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Cruise ship industry are viewed as travel for pleasure in the sea. They defined “cruise ships” not only as transportation but also as trip for pleasure in the sea. As Cooper, Fletcher, Gilbert and Wanhill (1993) stated, “Cruising is more a leisure product than a mode of sea transportation.” The cruise ship industry is increasingly being popular as floating resorts Dowling (2006). This floating resort has bars, restaurant, entertainment spot, sports facilities, shopping centers, and a lot more Dowling (2006). Cabins are also developed into larger and more luxurious. Part of the development is for cabins to have more balconies. Dowling (2006).
Dowling (2006) Cruise ship companies continuously promoting their trademarks to…show more content…

Most of the cruises today are more luxurious and offer such services. Moreover, some of the vacationers are environmental friendly and is more focused in education, wildlife and peaceful destination; they are the people that do not prefer entertainment in the cruise Martin (2010). These liners are smaller than the luxurious ones, and according to the researchers these businesses are growing each year Martin (2010).


* Ship Safety
A mishap at sea, even though not common and not as serious than cancellations and delays, still happens Klein (2002). The cruise ship industry prefer this to be not known to passengers, but passengers should really know about this as there's always a possibility for things to go wrong Klein (2002). Land-based resorts and hotels are some of the establishments that the cruise industry sees as competitors to their product, which would be much safer. Klein (2002)
Collisions, mechanical failures, fires and sometimes sinking of ships are some of the incidents in which most are not as serious and most of the time attributed to human error. Klein (2002)
Klein (2002) More than 70 cruise ship accidents were reported in the media between January 2000 and December 2001. An Example is the The Costa Tropicale, which ran aground twice in two weeks Klein (2002). It was freed by tugboats in Venice the first time it happened, and was also freed by the Costa Atlantica, its sister ship the second time it happened.

For other uses, see Ship (disambiguation).

Not to be confused with boat.

A ship is a large watercraft that travels the world's oceans and other sufficiently deep waterways, carrying passengers or goods, or in support of specialized missions, such as defense, research and fishing. Historically, a "ship" was a sailing vessel with at least three square-riggedmasts and a full bowsprit. Ships are generally distinguished from boats, based on size, shape, load capacity, and tradition.

Ships have been important contributors to human migration and commerce. They have supported the spread of colonization and the slave trade, but have also served scientific, cultural, and humanitarian needs. After the 15th century, new crops that had come from and to the Americas via the European seafarers significantly contributed to the world population growth.[1]Ship transport is responsible for the largest portion of world commerce.

As of 2016, there were more than 49,000 merchant ships, totaling almost 1.8 billion dead weight tons. Of these 28% were oil tankers, 43% were bulk carriers, and 13% were container ships.[2] Military forces operate vessels for naval warfare and to transport and support forces ashore. As of 2016, among the world's 104 navies, Korean People's Navy of North Korea had the most surface vessels (967), followed by People's Liberation Army Navy of China (714), the United States Navy (415), Islamic Republic of Iran Navy (398), and Russian Navy (352). The top 50 navies had a median fleet of 88 surface vessels each, according to various sources.[3]


Further information: Glossary of nautical terms

Ships are generally larger than boats, but there is no universally accepted distinction between the two. Ships generally can remain at sea for longer periods of time than boats.[4] A legal definition of ship from Indiancase law is a vessel that carries goods by sea.[5] A common notion is that a ship can carry a boat, but not vice versa.[6] A US Navy rule of thumb is that ships heel towards the outside of a sharp turn, whereas boats heel towards the inside[7] because of the relative location of the center of mass versus the center of buoyancy.[8][9] American and British 19th Century maritime law distinguished "vessels" from other craft; ships and boats fall in one legal category, whereas open boats and rafts are not considered vessels.[10]

In the Age of Sail, a full-rigged ship was a sailing vessel with at least three square-rigged masts and a full bowsprit; other types of vessel were also defined by their sailplan, e.g. barque, brigantine, etc.[11]

A number of large vessels are usually referred to as boats. Submarines are a prime example.[12] Other types of large vessel which are traditionally called boats are Great Lakes freighters, riverboats, and ferryboats.[10] Though large enough to carry their own boats and heavy cargoes, these vessels are designed for operation on inland or protected coastal waters.

In most maritime traditions ships have individual names, and modern ships may belong to a ship class often named after its first ship. In the northern parts of Europe and America a ship is traditionally referred to with a female grammatical gender, represented in English with the pronoun "she", even if named after a man. This is not universal usage and some journalistic style guides advise using "it" as referring to ships with female pronouns can be seen as offensive and outdated.[13][14] In many documents the ship name is introduced with a ship prefix being an abbreviation of the ship class, for example "MS" (motor ship) or "SV" (sailing vessel), making it easier to distinguish a ship name from other individual names in a text.


Further information: Maritime history

Prehistory and antiquity[edit]

The first known vessels date back about 10,000 years ago, but could not be described as ships. The first navigators began to use animal skins or woven fabrics as sails. Affixed to the top of a pole set upright in a boat, these sails gave early ships range. This allowed men to explore widely, allowing for the settlement of Oceania for example (about 3,000 years ago).[15]

By around 3000 BC, Ancient Egyptians knew how to assemble wooden planks into a hull.[16] They used woven straps to lash the planks together,[16] and reeds or grass stuffed between the planks helped to seal the seams.[16][17] The Greekhistorian and geographerAgatharchides had documented ship-faring among the early Egyptians: "During the prosperous period of the Old Kingdom, between the 30th and 25th centuries B. C., the river-routes were kept in order, and Egyptian ships sailed the Red Sea as far as the myrrh-country."[18]Sneferu's ancient cedar wood ship Praise of the Two Lands is the first reference recorded (2613 BC) to a ship being referred to by name.[19]

The ancient Egyptians were perfectly at ease building sailboats. A remarkable example of their shipbuilding skills was the Khufu ship, a vessel 143 feet (44 m) in length entombed at the foot of the Great Pyramid of Giza around 2500 BC and found intact in 1954.

It is known that ancient Nubia/Axum traded with India, and there is evidence that ships from Northeast Africa may have sailed back and forth between India/Sri Lanka and Nubia trading goods and even to Persia, Himyar and Rome.[20]Aksum was known by the Greeks for having seaports for ships from Greece and Yemen.[21]

Elsewhere in Northeast Africa, the Periplus of the Red Sea reports that Somalis, through their northern ports such as Zeila and Berbera, were trading frankincense and other items with the inhabitants of the Arabian Peninsula well before the arrival of Islam as well as with then Roman-controlled Egypt.[22]

A panel found at Mohenjodaro depicted a sailing craft. Vessels were of many types; their construction is vividly described in the Yukti Kalpa Taru, an ancient Indian text on shipbuilding. This treatise gives a technical exposition on the techniques of shipbuilding. It sets forth minute details about the various types of ships, their sizes, and the materials from which they were built. The Yukti Kalpa Taru sums up in a condensed form all the available information. The Yukti Kalpa Taru gives sufficient information and dates to prove that, in ancient times, Indian shipbuilders had a good knowledge of the materials which were used in building ships. In addition to describing the qualities of the different types of wood and their suitability for shipbuilding, the Yukti Kalpa Taru gives an elaborate classification of ships based on their size.

The oldest discovered sea faring hulled boat is the Late Bronze AgeUluburun shipwreck off the coast of Turkey, dating back to 1300 BC.[23]

The Phoenicians, the first to sail completely around Africa, and Greeks gradually mastered navigation at sea aboard triremes, exploring and colonizing the Mediterranean via ship. Around 340 BC, the Greek navigatorPytheas of Massalia ventured from Greece to Western Europe and Great Britain.[24] In the course of the 2nd century BC, Rome went on to destroy Carthage and subdue the Hellenistic kingdoms of the eastern Mediterranean, achieving complete mastery of the inland sea, that they called Mare Nostrum. The monsoon wind system of the Indian Ocean was first sailed by Greek navigator Eudoxus of Cyzicus in 118 BC.[25]

In China, by the time of the Zhou dynasty ship technologies such as stern mounted rudders were developed, and by the Han dynasty, a well kept naval fleet was an integral part of the military. Ship technology advanced to the point where by the medieval period, water tight compartments were developed.

The Swahili people had various extensive trading ports dotting the coast of medieval East Africa and Great Zimbabwe had extensive trading contacts with Central Africa, and likely also imported goods brought to Africa through the Southeast African shore trade of Kilwa in modern-day Tanzania.[26]

It is known by historians that at its height the Mali Empire built a large naval fleet under Emperor Mansa Musa in the late 13th and early 14th century.[27] Arabic sources describe what some consider to be visits to the New World by a Mali fleet in 1311.[28]

Before the introduction of the compass, celestial navigation was the main method for navigation at sea. In China, early versions of the magnetic compass were being developed and used in navigation between 1040 and 1117.[29] The true mariner's compass, using a pivoting needle in a dry box, was developed in Europe no later than 1300.[30][31]

14th through the 18th centuries[edit]

Until the Renaissance, navigational technology remained comparatively primitive. This absence of technology did not prevent some civilizations from becoming sea powers. Examples include the maritime republics of Genoa and Venice, Hanseatic League, and the Byzantine navy. The Vikings used their knarrs to explore North America, trade in the Baltic Sea and plunder many of the coastal regions of Western Europe.

Towards the end of the 14th century, ships like the carrack began to develop towers on the bow and stern. These towers decreased the vessel's stability, and in the 15th century, the caravel, designed by the Portuguese, based on the Arabic qarib which could sail closer to the wind, became more widely used. The towers were gradually replaced by the forecastle and sterncastle, as in the carrack Santa María of Christopher Columbus. This increased freeboard allowed another innovation: the freeing port, and the artillery associated with it.

In the 16th century, the use of freeboard and freeing ports became widespread on galleons.

At this time, ships were developing in Asia in much the same way as Europe. Japan used defensive naval techniques in the Mongol invasions of Japan in 1281. It is likely that the Mongols of the time took advantage of both European and Asian shipbuilding techniques. During the 15th century, China's Ming dynasty assembled one of the largest and most powerful naval fleets in the world for the diplomatic and power projection voyages of Zheng He. Elsewhere in Japan in the 15th century, one of the world's first iron-clads, "Tekkōsen" (鉄甲船), literally meaning "iron ships",[32] was also developed. In Japan, during the Sengoku era from the fifteenth to 17th century, the great struggle for feudal supremacy was fought, in part, by coastal fleets of several hundred boats, including the atakebune. In Korea, in the early 15th century during the Joseon era, "Geobukseon"(거북선), was developed. The "turtle ship", as it was called is recognized as the first armored ship in the world.

During the Age of the Ajuran, the Somalisultanates and republics of Merca, Mogadishu, Barawa, Hobyo and their respective ports flourished, enjoying a lucrative foreign commerce with ships sailing to and coming from Arabia, India, Venetia,[33]Persia, Egypt, Portugal and as far away as China. In the 16th century, Duarte Barbosa noted that many ships from the Kingdom of Cambaya in what is modern-day India sailed to Mogadishu with cloth and spices, for which they in return received gold, wax and ivory. Barbosa also highlighted the abundance of meat, wheat, barley, horses, and fruit on the coastal markets, which generated enormous wealth for the merchants.[34]

Middle Age Swahili Kingdoms are known to have had trade port bullship and trade routes[35] with the Islamic world and Asia and were described by Greek historians as "metropolises".[36] Famous African trade ports such as Mombasa, Zanzibar, and Kilwa[37] were known to Chinese sailors such as Zheng He and medieval Islamic historians such as the Berber Islamic voyager Abu Abdullah ibn Battua.[38] In the 14th century AD, King Abubakari I, the brother of King Mansa Musa of the Mali Empire, is thought to have had a great armada of ships sitting on the coast of West Africa.[39] This is corroborated by ibn Battuta himself who recalls several hundred Malian ships off the coast.[40] This has led to great speculation, with historical evidence, that it is possible that Malian sailors may have reached the coast of Pre-Columbian America under the rule of Abubakari II, nearly two hundred years before Christopher Columbus[41] and that black traders may have been in the Americas before Columbus.[42] Fifty years before Christopher Columbus, Chinese navigator Zheng He traveled the world at the head of what was for the time a huge armada. The largest of his ships had nine masts, were 130 metres (430 ft) long and had a beam of 55 metres (180 ft). His fleet carried 30,000 men aboard 70 vessels, with the goal of bringing glory to the Chinese emperor.

At the same time Zheng He made his expedition, Portuguese explorer Gil Eanes sailed on a square-rigged caravel beyond Cape Bojador the end of what was then considered the known world opening the route to deep sea exploration, continental sea communication technology and the spherical earth principle.

The carrack and then the caravel were developed in Portugal. After Columbus, European exploration rapidly accelerated, and many new trade routes were established.[43] In 1498, by reaching India, Vasco da Gama proved that the access to the Indian Ocean from the Atlantic was possible. These explorations in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans were soon followed by France, England and the Netherlands, who explored the Portuguese and Spanish trade routes into the Pacific Ocean, reaching Australia in 1606 and New Zealand in 1642.[44] In the 17th century Dutch and Spanish explorers such as Abel Tasman and Luís Vaz de Torres explored the coasts of Australia, while in the 18th century it was British explorer James Cook who mapped much of Polynesia.

Specialization and modernization[edit]

Parallel to the development of warships, ships in service of marine fishery and trade also developed in the period between antiquity and the Renaissance.

Maritime trade was driven by the development of shipping companies with significant financial resources. Canal barges, towed by draft animals on an adjacent towpath, contended with the railway up to and past the early days of the industrial revolution. Flat-bottomed and flexible scow boats also became widely used for transporting small cargoes. Mercantile trade went hand-in-hand with exploration, self-financed by the commercial benefits of exploration.

During the first half of the 18th century, the French Navy began to develop a new type of vessel known as a ship of the line, featuring seventy-four guns. This type of ship became the backbone of all European fighting fleets. These ships were 56 metres (184 ft) long and their construction required 2,800 oak trees and 40 kilometres (25 mi) of rope; they carried a crew of about 800 sailors and soldiers.

During the 19th century the Royal Navy enforced a ban on the slave trade, acted to suppress piracy, and continued to map the world. A clipper was a very fast sailing ship of the 19th century. The clipper routes fell into commercial disuse with the introduction of steam ships with better fuel efficiency, and the opening of the Suez and Panama Canals.

Ship designs stayed fairly unchanged until the late 19th century. The industrial revolution, new mechanical methods of propulsion, and the ability to construct ships from metal triggered an explosion in ship design. Factors including the quest for more efficient ships, the end of long running and wasteful maritime conflicts, and the increased financial capacity of industrial powers created an avalanche of more specialized boats and ships. Ships built for entirely new functions, such as firefighting, rescue, and research, also began to appear.

In light of this, classification of vessels by type or function can be difficult. Even using very broad functional classifications such as fishery, trade, military, and exploration fails to classify most of the old ships. This difficulty is increased by the fact that the terms such as sloop and frigate are used by old and new ships alike, and often the modern vessels sometimes have little in common with their predecessors.

21st century[edit]

In 2007, the world's fleet included 34,882 commercial vessels with gross tonnage of more than 1,000 tons,[46] totaling 1.04 billion tons.[47] These ships carried 7.4 billion tons of cargo in 2006, a sum that grew by 8% over the previous year.[47] In terms of tonnage, 39% of these ships are tankers, 26% are bulk carriers, 17% container ships and 15% were other types.[47]

In 2002, there were 1,240 warships operating in the world, not counting small vessels such as patrol boats. The United States accounted for 3 million tons worth of these vessels, Russia 1.35 million tons, the United Kingdom 504,660 tons and China 402,830 tons. The 20th century saw many naval engagements during the two world wars, the Cold War, and the rise to power of naval forces of the two blocs. The world's major powers have recently used their naval power in cases such as the United Kingdom in the Falkland Islands and the United States in Iraq.

The size of the world's fishing fleet is more difficult to estimate. The largest of these are counted as commercial vessels, but the smallest are legion. Fishing vessels can be found in most seaside villages in the world. As of 2004, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimated 4 million fishing vessels were operating worldwide.[48] The same study estimated that the world's 29 million fishermen[49] caught 85,800,000 tonnes (84,400,000 long tons; 94,600,000 short tons) of fish and shellfish that year.[50]

Types of ships[edit]

See also: List of types of naval vessels and List of boat types

Because ships are constructed using the principles of naval architecture that require same structural components, their classification is based on their function such as that suggested by Paulet and Presles,[51] which requires modification of the components. The categories accepted in general by naval architects are:[citation needed]

  • High-speed craft – Multihulls including wave piercers, small-waterplane-area twin hull (SWATH), surface effect ships and hovercraft, hydrofoil, wing in ground effect craft (WIG).
  • Off shore oil vessels – Platform supply vessel, pipe layers, accommodation and cranebarges, non and semi-submersible drilling rigs, production platforms, floating production storage and offloading units.
  • Fishing vessels
Motorised fishing trawlers, trap setters, seiners, longliners, trollers & factory ships.
Traditional sailing and rowed fishing vessels and boats used for handline fishing
Cable layers
Tugboats, dredgers, salvage vessels, tenders, Pilot boats.
Floating dry docks, floating cranes, lightership.
  • Dry cargo ships – tramp freighters, bulk carriers, cargo liners, container vessels, barge carriers, Ro-Ro ships, refrigerated cargo ships, timber carriers, livestock & light vehicle carriers.
  • Liquid cargo ships – Oil tankers, liquefied gas carriers, chemical carriers.
  • Passenger vessels
Liners, cruise and Special Trade Passenger (STP) ships
Cross-channel, coastal and harbour ferries.
Luxury & cruising yachts
Sail training and multi-masted ships
  • Recreational boats and craft – rowed, masted and motorised craft
  • Special-purpose vessels – weather and research vessels, deep sea survey vessels, and icebreakers.
  • Submersibles – industrial exploration, scientific research, tourist and hydrographic survey.
  • Warships and other surface combatants – aircraft carriers, destroyers, frigates, corvettes, minesweepers, etc.

Some of these are discussed in the following sections.


Freshwater shipping may occur on lakes, rivers and canals. Ships designed for those venues may be specially adapted to the widths and depths of specific waterways. Examples of freshwater waterways that are navigable in part by large vessels include the Danube, Mississippi, Rhine, Yangtze and Amazon Rivers, and the Great Lakes.

Great Lakes[edit]

Lake freighters, also called lakers, are cargo vessels that ply the Great Lakes. The most well-known is SS Edmund Fitzgerald, the latest major vessel to be wrecked on the Lakes. These vessels are traditionally called boats, not ships. Visiting ocean-going vessels are called "salties." Because of their additional beam, very large salties are never seen inland of the Saint Lawrence Seaway. Because the smallest of the Soo Locks is larger than any Seaway lock, salties that can pass through the Seaway may travel anywhere in the Great Lakes. Because of their deeper draft, salties may accept partial loads on the Great Lakes, "topping off" when they have exited the Seaway. Similarly, the largest lakers are confined to the Upper Lakes (Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie) because they are too large to use the Seaway locks, beginning at the Welland Canal that bypasses the Niagara River.

Since the freshwater lakes are less corrosive to ships than the salt water of the oceans, lakers tend to last much longer than ocean freighters. Lakers older than 50 years are not unusual, and as of 2005, all were over 20 years of age.[52]

SS St. Marys Challenger, built in 1906 as William P Snyder, was the oldest laker still working on the Lakes until its conversion into a barge starting in 2013. Similarly, E.M. Ford, built in 1898 as Presque Isle, was sailing the lakes 98 years later in 1996. As of 2007 E.M. Ford was still afloat as a stationary transfer vessel at a riverside cement silo in Saginaw, Michigan.

Seagoing commercial vessels[edit]

Main article: Merchant vessel

Commercial vessels or merchant ships can be divided into four broad categories: fishing, cargo ships, passenger ships, and special-purpose ships.[53] The UNCTAD review of maritime transport categorizes ships as: oil tankers, bulk (and combination) carriers, general cargo ships, container ships, and "other ships", which includes "liquefied petroleum gas carriers, liquefied natural gas carriers, parcel (chemical) tankers, specialized tankers, reefers, offshore supply, tugs, dredgers, cruise, ferries, other non-cargo". General cargo ships include "multi-purpose and project vessels and roll-on/roll-off cargo".[2]

Modern commercial vessels are typically powered by a single propeller driven by a diesel or, less usually, gas turbine engine.[citation needed], but until the mid-19th century they were predominantly square sail rigged. The fastest vessels may use pump-jet engines.[citation needed] Most commercial vessels have full hull-forms to maximize cargo capacity.[citation needed] Hulls are usually made of steel, although aluminum can be used on faster craft, and fiberglass on the smallest service vessels.[citation needed] Commercial vessels generally have a crew headed by a captain, with deck officers and marine engineers on larger vessels. Special-purpose vessels often have specialized crew if necessary, for example scientists aboard research vessels.

Fishing boats are generally small, often little more than 30 meters (98 ft) but up to 100 metres (330 ft) for a large tuna or whaling ship. Aboard a fish processing vessel, the catch can be made ready for market and sold more quickly once the ship makes port. Special purpose vessels have special gear. For example, trawlers have winches and arms, stern-trawlers have a rear ramp, and tuna seiners have skiffs. In 2004, 85,800,000 tonnes (84,400,000 long tons; 94,600,000 short tons) of fish were caught in the marine capture fishery.[54]Anchoveta represented the largest single catch at 10,700,000 tonnes (10,500,000 long tons; 11,800,000 short tons).[54] That year, the top ten marine capture species also included Alaska pollock, Blue whiting, Skipjack tuna, Atlantic herring, Chub mackerel, Japanese anchovy, Chilean jack mackerel, Largehead hairtail, and Yellowfin tuna.[54] Other species including salmon, shrimp, lobster, clams, squid and crab, are also commercially fished. Modern commercial fishermen use many methods. One is fishing by nets, such as purse seine, beach seine, lift nets, gillnets, or entangling nets. Another is trawling, including bottom trawl. Hooks and lines are used in methods like long-line fishing and hand-line fishing. Another method is the use of fishing trap.

Cargo ships transport dry and liquid cargo.[55] Dry cargo can be transported in bulk by bulk carriers, packed directly onto a general cargo ship in break-bulk, packed in intermodal containers as aboard a container ship, or driven aboard as in roll-on roll-off ships. Liquid cargo is generally carried in bulk aboard tankers, such as oil tankers which may include both crude and finished products of oil, chemical tankers which may also carry vegetable oils other than chemicals and LPG/LNG tankers, although smaller shipments may be carried on container ships in tank containers.

Passenger ships range in size from small river ferries to very large cruise ships. This type of vessel includes ferries, which move passengers and vehicles on short trips; ocean liners, which carry passengers from one place to another; and cruise ships, which carry passengers on voyages undertaken for pleasure, visiting several places and with leisure activities on board, often returning them to the port of embarkation. Riverboats and inland ferries are specially designed to carry passengers, cargo, or both in the challenging river environment. Rivers present special hazards to vessels. They usually have varying water flows that alternately lead to high speed water flows or protruding rock hazards. Changing siltation patterns may cause the sudden appearance of shoal waters, and often floating or sunken logs and trees (called snags) can endanger the hulls and propulsion of riverboats. Riverboats are generally of shallow draft, being broad of beam and rather square in plan, with a low freeboard and high topsides. Riverboats can survive with this type of configuration as they do not have to withstand the high winds or large waves that are seen on large lakes, seas, or oceans.

Fishing vessels are a subset of commercial vessels, but generally small in size and often subject to different regulations and classification. They can be categorized by several criteria: architecture, the type of fish they catch, the fishing method used, geographical origin, and technical features such as rigging. As of 2004, the world's fishing fleet consisted of some 4 million vessels.[48] Of these, 1.3 million were decked vessels with enclosed areas and the rest were open vessels.[48] Most decked vessels were mechanized, but two-thirds of the open vessels were traditional craft propelled by sails and oars.[48] More than 60% of all existing large fishing vessels[56] were built in Japan, Peru, the Russian Federation, Spain or the United States of America.[57]

Special purpose vessels[edit]

Main article: Weather ship

A weather ship was a ship stationed in the ocean as a platform for surface and upper air meteorological observations for use in marine weather forecasting. Surface weather observations were taken hourly, and four radiosonde releases occurred daily.[58] It was also meant to aid in search and rescue operations and to support transatlantic flights.[58][59] Proposed as early as 1927 by the aviation community,[60] the establishment of weather ships proved to be so useful during World War II that the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) established a global network of weather ships in 1948, with 13 to be supplied by the United States.[59] This number was eventually negotiated down to nine.[61]

The weather ship crews were normally at sea for three weeks at a time, returning to port for 10-day stretches.[58] Weather ship observations proved to be helpful in wind and wave studies, as they did not avoid weather systems like other ships tended to for safety reasons.[62] They were also helpful in monitoring storms at sea, such as tropical cyclones.[63] The removal of a weather ship became a negative factor in forecasts leading up to the Great Storm of 1987.[64] Beginning in the 1970s, their role became largely superseded by weather buoys due to the ships' significant cost.[65] The agreement of the use of weather ships by the international community ended in 1990. The last weather ship was Polarfront, known as weather station M ("Mike"), which was put out of operation on 1 January 2010. Weather observations from ships continue from a fleet of voluntary merchant vessels in routine commercial operation.

Naval vessels[edit]

Main article: Naval ship

Naval vessels are those used by a navy for military purposes. There have been many types of naval vessel. Modern naval vessels can be broken down into three categories: surface warships, submarines, and support and auxiliary vessels.

Modern warships are generally divided into seven main categories: aircraft carriers, cruisers, destroyers, frigates, corvettes, submarines and amphibious assault ships. The distinction between cruisers, destroyers, frigates, and corvettes is not rigorous; the same vessel may be described differently in different navies. Battleships were used during the Second World War and occasionally since then (the last battleships were removed from the U.S. Naval Vessel Register in March 2006), but were made obsolete by the use of carrier-borne aircraft and guided missiles.[66]

Most military submarines are either attack submarines or ballistic missile submarines. Until the end of World War II the primary role of the diesel/electric submarine was anti-ship warfare, inserting and removing covert agents and military forces, and intelligence-gathering. With the development of the homing torpedo, better sonar systems, and nuclear propulsion, submarines also became able to effectively hunt each other. The development of submarine-launched nuclear and cruise missiles gave submarines a substantial and long-ranged ability to attack both land and sea targets with a variety of weapons ranging from cluster munitions to nuclear weapons.

Most navies also include many types of support and auxiliary vessel, such as minesweepers, patrol boats, offshore patrol vessels, replenishment ships, and hospital ships which are designated medical treatment facilities.[67]

Fast combat vessels such as cruisers and destroyers usually have fine hulls to maximize speed and maneuverability.[68] They also usually have advanced marine electronics and communication systems, as well as weapons.


Further information: Naval architecture

Some components exist in vessels of any size and purpose. Every vessel has a hull of sorts. Every vessel has some sort of propulsion, whether it's a pole, an ox, or a nuclear reactor. Most vessels have some sort of steering system. Other characteristics are common, but not as universal, such as compartments, holds, a superstructure, and equipment such as anchors and winches.


Main article: Hull (watercraft)

For a ship to float, its weight must be less than that of the water displaced by the ship's hull.[69] There are many types of hulls, from logs lashed together to form a raft to the advanced hulls of America's Cup sailboats. A vessel may have a single hull (called a monohull design), two in the case of catamarans, or three in the case of trimarans. Vessels with more than three hulls are rare, but some experiments have been conducted with designs such as pentamarans. Multiple hulls are generally parallel to each other and connected by rigid arms.

Hulls have several elements. The bow is the foremost part of the hull. Many ships feature a bulbous bow. The keel is at the very bottom of the hull, extending the entire length of the ship. The rear part of the hull is known as the stern, and many hulls have a flat back known as a transom. Common hull appendages include propellers for propulsion, rudders for steering, and stabilizers to quell a ship's rolling motion. Other hull features can be related to the vessel's work, such as fishing gear and sonar domes.

Hulls are subject to various hydrostatic and hydrodynamic constraints. The key hydrostatic constraint is that it must be able to support the entire weight of the boat, and maintain stability even with often unevenly distributed weight. Hydrodynamic constraints include the ability to withstand shock waves, weather collisions and groundings.

Older ships and pleasure craft often have or had wooden hulls. Steel is used for most commercial vessels. Aluminium is frequently used for fast vessels, and composite materials are often found in sailboats and pleasure craft. Some ships have been made with concrete hulls.

Propulsion systems[edit]

Main article: Marine propulsion

Propulsion systems for ships fall into three categories: human propulsion, sailing, and mechanical propulsion. Human propulsion includes rowing, which was used even on large galleys. Propulsion by sail generally consists of a sail hoisted on an erect mast, supported by stays and spars and controlled by ropes. Sail systems were the dominant form of propulsion until the 19th century. They are now generally used for recreation and competition, although experimental sail systems, such as the turbosails, rotorsails, and wingsails have been used on larger modern vessels for fuel savings.

Mechanical propulsion systems generally consist of a motor or engine turning a propeller, or less frequently, an impeller

The raft is an early means of water-borne transport.
Replica of a ship, typical of the 10th–14th centuries in Islamic Iberia.
A ship's hull endures harsh conditions at sea, as illustrated by this reefer ship in bad weather.