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Associate Professor in Maritime History, University of Portsmouth

Dr Ann Coats FRHistS, FSNR, FHEA

Ann is Associate Professor in Maritime Heritage at the University of Portsmouth

A British maritime historian exploring social, cultural and global connections from the 17th–20th centuries, Ann’s focus on naval administration and dockyards incorporates personal, professional, local and international social networks.

Since November 2021, Ann has been the project lead for the 3-year University of Portsmouth workpackage 3.1 People and the Sea, within Unpath’d Waters Arts and Humanities Research Council Project (

Shipwrecks provide exciting and unique evidence of societies which built, supplied and crewed the vessels. Unlike sites on land, shipwrecks are unaffected by people (although not by the undersea environment) until discovered, so they preserve a single moment in time. Mary Rose is a celebrated example, but some wrecks at the Needles are not yet identified. There is a myriad of new stories to tell. The Analogue-Digital Connector illustrates insights gained from connecting digital and archival sources. Seven Needles wrecks were selected in discussion with the Maritime Archaeology Trust from its database. Proceeding from their data to archival catalogues, archives were searched to reveal new authentic data and make them publicly available to new audiences.


Ann's 2000 University of Sussex DPhil thesis is ‘The economy of the navy and Portsmouth: a discourse between the civilian naval administration of Portsmouth dockyard and the surrounding communities, 1650 to 1800’.

One 1996 research outcome was to co-found the Naval Dockyards Society which explores the civil branches of navies and their material culture and publishes dockyard-related research (

Publications include
- Sea routes and anchorages II: ‘Portsmouth, Spithead and St Helen's: “his Ma.ts Shipps returning out of the Sea in any distresse, with thelosse of cables or Anchors or with her masts borne over:board, Portsmouth is a safe place to save men ships & goods, whereas comeing any further a Southerly storme may bee the destruction of all”, Britain from the Sea in the Age of Sail, Chaline, O., Kowalski, J-M. & Harding, R. (eds.). Paris: Sorbonne Université Presses (2019)
- ‘Portsmouth Dockyard: contested buttress of state, royal and religious power in the 17th century’, Les arsenaux de Marine, du XVIe siècle à nos jours. Le Mao, C. (ed.). Paris: Sorbonne Université Presses (2019)
- Twentieth Century Naval Dockyards: Devonport and Portsmouth Characterisation Report (Historic England, 2015, co-authored)
- The Naval Mutinies of 1797: Unity and Perseverance (Woodbridge, 2011, co-authored)
- ‘English naval administration under Charles I - top-down and bottom-up - tracing continuities’, in Transactions of the Naval Dockyards Society, Pepys and Chips (2012), 9-30
- ‘Bermuda Naval Base: Management, Artisans and their Enslaved Workers, 1795–1797’, Mariner’s Mirror, 95(2) (2009), 149-178
‘From “Floating tombs” to foundations. The contribution of convicts to naval dockyards and ordnance sites’, Age of Sail, 2 (London, 2003), 28-42