As of May 2009, the NRHE recorded 518 wrecks lost during the period 1860-1913. It was a time of revolutionary change when the full impact of the industrial revolution and Britain’s commercial and colonial expansion was felt in the maritime world.
During this period, there were advances in naval engineering that changed the face of shipbuilding forever. In little more than fifty years, wooden hulls were replaced by iron then steel; and sail gave way to steam propulsion. The development of screw driven vessels enabled steam vessels to compete with sail in terms of speed and distance covered.
Changes in ship technology created greater opportunities for naval architects to create specialised designs for a specific purpose. Gone were the versatile merchantmen, replaced instead with trampsteamers, cargo vessels and cruise liners. While Nelson’s sailing navy became armoured dreadnoughts.
By the end of this period sea travel was safer and England was a major port of departure and destination for vessels all over the world. The resource of wrecks is likely to be important both nationally and internationally. Towards the end of the period Britain was on the brink of war.  There are likely to be ships built in an earlier period that were lost during the conflict and many of the vessels that took part in the conflict would have been built in the period 1860-1913.

162 HMS Dreadnought © National Museum of the Royal Navy