The British Merchant Navy comprises the British merchant ships that transport cargo and people during time of peace and war.
For much of its history, the merchant navy was the largest merchant fleet in the world, but with the decline of the British Empire in the mid-20th century it slipped down the rankings. In 1939, the merchant navy was the largest in the world with 33% of total tonnage. By 2012, the merchant navy—still remaining one of the largest in the world—held only 3% of total tonnage. As of the year ending 2012, British Merchant Marine interests consists of 1,504 ships of 100 GRT or over. This includes ships either UK directly owned, parent owned or managed by a British company. This amounts to: 59,413,000 GRT or alternatively 75,265,000 DWT. This is according to the annual maritime shipping statistics provided by the British government and the Department for Transport. British shipping is represented nationally and globally by the UK Chamber of Shipping.