The Scottish Maritime Museum has vowed to refer to ships as gender neutral on its signs.

Current signs in the museum in Ayrshire, which use 'she' and 'her' when referring to historic ships, have been vandalised for the second time in a year.

Vandals scratched out the female pronouns on the information boards.

The museum say all new signs will use 'it' instead, but warn they cannot afford to change them all in one go.

"We are a charity and our signs are very expensive! We can't afford to replace all signs but new signs are gender neutral."

Ships have been referred to as female throughout history.

There are many theories as to why, including claims that sailors believed the ships represented their mothers who would protect them and keep them safe.

Lloyd's List, a shipping publication, made moves to stop using female and feminine names in 2002.

But the Royal Navy has always said it would continue to refer to its ships as female.

Talking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Admiral Lord Alan West, a former senior official in the Navy, argued that scrapping female names is an "insult to generations of sailors".

He added: "I don't think it's dated at all...sometimes things that are dated are there for very good reasons and I am very proud of some of those facts."