LONDON (AP) _ Ending centuries of seafaring tradition, a shipping industry newspaper said Wednesday it will no longer refer to ships with the feminine pronoun ``she.''

Lloyd's List, which is one of the world's oldest daily publications, said in the future it will refer to all vessels as ``it.''

In an editorial, the newspaper said it was time to ``bring the paper into line with most other reputable international business titles.''

``I decided that it was time to catch up with the rest of the world, and most other news organizations refer to ships as neuter,'' said editor Julian Bray.

But, he added, ``I don't think there is anything wrong with calling ships 'she' in conversation. It's a respectable maritime tradition.''

The move is expected to stir debate among the newspaper's 10,000 readers worldwide. Bray, 38, said he is expecting a ``full and vibrant array of letters.''

Pieter van der Merwe, general editor at the Greenwich Maritime Museum at Greenwich, in London, opposed the decision.

``It is a chip out of the wall of a particular cultural sector,'' he said. ``You can say it's a small thing, but small things mount up.

``You actually lose the color of specialist areas if you destroy the language of them. We will continue to refer to ships as 'she' here.''

Van der Merwe said the tradition of calling ships ``she'' grew out of sailors' affection for their vessels, which kept them alive at sea.

A Royal Navy spokesman said the navy would also continue to use the female pronoun. ``It's not just a sentimental thing but a part of culture,'' he said.

Lloyd's List, founded in 1734, will change its style after the beginning of April. Columnists still will be free to use the female pronoun.