Types Of Ships

Well, let’s just start with what are ships?

  Ships are known to be the large marine buoyant structures on the sea used for various commercial and warfare activities. Ships have developed alongside mankind over the centuries.In today’s modern day, sea accounts for 60% of trade and transportation of freight across the globe. They were responsible for the ancient explorations and technological and scientific inventions in the early 1700s.
  The growth in international trade, removal of trade barriers being the principal reason, has made the developing countries to concentrate more on the development of their infrastructure, like roads, airports, seaports, which play a vital role in the development of the economy. Product movement and product storage along with the capacity to move large shipments have placed the shipping industry in a very advantageous position. 
  Containerization, multi-modal transport service, advancement of marine engineering technology, specialized systems, and computerization have contributed towards making sea transport as a prime mode for movement of internationally traded goods. However, the development of shipping industry in a country also depends on its population density, economic advancement and many other interrelated conditions, like port and refueling capacities.

  In the present era, the shipping industry is largely dominated by the European. American and the East Asian players, but there was a time in the prehistoric decades when the shipbuilding was a major supportive and thriving industry in ancient India.The maritime history of India started right from the Indus Valley Civilization at planned cities of Harrapa and Mohenjo Daro.Rig-Veda,one of the four Vedas(Hindu Holy Writings),documents about the variously termed parts of a vessel in the oldest and most scientific language ever known to mankind,Sanskrit.
  The ancient marine industry is documented in the Arthashastra and various other writings of the ancient Indian folk-lore.Since the boats of that era were built of wood, there were specifications and protocols laid down for the materials to be used. The ships and the shipyards that existed in Ancient India were used to carry out and further the existing international trade with the then existing European empires.

  Types of ships:
There are fundamentally 2 types of modern marine vessels either used as marine warfare or for commercial means.

Commercial Ships can be classified broadly into 3 categories,i.e., cargo ships, passenger ships and multi-purpose ships.

I}Cargo ships are used to transport various dry and liquid cargo.

The type of merchant vessel employed on a trade route is determined basically by the traffic carried. There are different ways in which ships can be operated. 

a) Tramp vessels or general trader does not operate on a fixed sailing schedule, but merely trades in all parts of the world in search of cargo, primarily bulk shipments.

b) Liner vessels operate on a fixed route between two ports or two series of ports. They operate on a regular scheduled service.

c) Conference line is an association of ocean carriers who have joined together and have consensus with regard to freight rates and shipping conditions.

d) Independent lines operate independently and individually.

These cargo vessels are classified into-

1.General Cargo: Used for transporting freight including basic daily commodities of an individual.

2.Vessels Tankers: Used to carry petroleum products and other liquid cargo

3.Dry-bulk Carriers: Used to carry products in dry form(eg. coal,grains, cattle,etc.)

4.Multipurpose Vessels: Used to carry general cargo and petroleum products at same time.

Emma Maersk: Largest Cargo Vessel In World.It is so
large that it requires total of eight ships to hold it.
Emma Line at the Shanghai Port

The dry cargo vessels include:

A Barge


Barges which carry heavy goods in canals and small river channels.The disadvantage is that they have to be tugged along by other naval vessels. They are used mainly at sea ports.

A Lake Freight


Lake Freighters which carry unpacked bulk cargo in the Great Lakes(Collection of the freshwater lakes situated in Canada and North 


A Car Float In the 1860s


Car Float is a un-powered barge used to carry railway bogies across water.

A Coaster in the Atlantic Ocean


Coasters are shallow-hulled ships used for trade between locations on the same island or continent. Their shallow hulls mean that they can get through reefs where deeper-hulled sea-going ships usually cannot.

A British Collier in the Indian Ocean


Collier are used to carry coal especially for naval forces.

A heavy Lift Ship Transporting a USS Naval Ship

6. Heavy Lift Ship are designed to move very large loads that cannot be handled by normally equipped ships. They are of two types: Semi-submerging capable of lifting another ship out of the water and transporting it; and vessels that augment unloading facilities at inadequately equipped ports.

A Hopper Barge in the Britain

7. Hopper Barge is a kind of non-mechanical ship or vessel that cannot move around by itself, unlike some other types of barges. Designed to carry materials, like rocks, sand, soil and rubbish, for dumping into the ocean, a river or lake for land reclamation.

Lighter Aboard Ship in the Port Of Rotterdam

8.  Lighter Aboard Ships load barges aboard a larger vessel for transport. It was developed in response to a need to transport lighters, a type of un-powered barge, between inland waterways separated by open seas. Lighters are typically towed or pushed around harbors, canals or rivers and cannot be relocated under their own power.

A Reefer Ship

9. Reefer Ships are used to transport perishable commodities which require temperature-controlled transportation, mostly fruits, meat, fish,vegetables, dairy products and other foodstuffs. 

RORO ship ‘Atlantis’ The largest RORO ships is
MV Tonsberg designed by Mitsubishi Industries,Japan


Roll-on/roll-off (RORO or ro-ro) ships are vessels designed to carry wheeled cargo that are driven on and off the ship on their own wheels. This is in contrast to lo-lo (lift-on/lift-off) vessels which use a crane to load and unload cargo.

Russian Submarine Cargo Vessel


Submarine Cargo vessels are used to carry the SSBM and ICBMs/IRBMs enabled missiles or submarines across water.

Loading of Train Ferry in Detroit, Michigian
World’s Largest Livestock Carrier Stella Deneb


Train Ferry are ships used to transport railways.


Livestock Carriers are used to carry cattle across the globe.

The liquid cargo vessels include:            

A Chemical Tanker at sea

1. Chemical Tankers are vessels designed to transport liquid chemicals in bulk weighing over 5000 metric tons.

Oil tankers at Bombay High, 200 km offshore Mumbai

2. Oil Tankers are designed to carry oil in bulk.There are two basic types of oil tankers: Crude tankers move large quantities of unrefined crude oil from its point of extraction to refineries and Product tankers,though much smaller, are designed to move petrochemicals from refineries to points near consuming markets.

The size classes range from (inland)coastal tankers of a few thousand metric tons of deadweight (DWT) to the mammoth Ultra large crude carriers (ULCCs) of 550,000 DWT.

A LNG carrier with capacity of 168 000 metric tons

 3. LNG carriers are used to transport Liquefied Petroleum Gas. Today, more than 200 LNG carriers are in service across the globe.

FPSO unit at Keppel Tuas Shipyard, Singapore

4. Floating Production Storage and Offloading(FPSO) unit is a floating vessel used by the offshore industry for the processing of hydrocarbons and for storage of oil from oil rigs in high seas and oceans.It is one of the best devised systems for oil exploration.
     FPSO not only stores oil but also refines it and offloads it to industrial sectors with help of underwater pipelines. This method also saves money and time since there is reduction in transportation between onshore refinery and industries.

  • II}Passenger Ships are used to transport people from one port to another.
A. Ferries:

Ferries are used not just to transport passengers from one shore to another but to carry cargo as well. Ferries are native to Greece and over the centuries have made their presence known not just in Greece and Europe but wide across the world.
However, the term “ferry” is a very generic one. There are many different types of ferries that are in existence today. The name by which each ferry is known is unique and is named so because of its major characteristic or feature. Some of the main types of ferries can be listed as follows:

  1. Catamarans: Are a famous ferry type. They generally are operated as passenger boats and are exceedingly popular wherever they are used. Speed is the major USP of a catamaran and for this reason alone a catamaran ride is favorite among people – young and old alike. One of the most famous catamaran services are operated in the UK by the shipping company Stena Line.

A Catamaran owned by ‘Porsche’

2. Channel Ferries:  In simple terms, channel ferries are ferries that cross the English Channel as their routine voyage. Channel ferries as a means of transportation were introduced in the early 19th century because of the difficulties posed to ships in the treacherous English Channel waters in both England as well as France. The Channel ferries were small and speedier thus making them a very trustworthy transportation vessel in the English Channel. In today’s times, there are many variants of Channel ferries that undertake journey not just between England and France but via the English Channel to other parts of Europe as well. 

Channel Ferry of the ‘Corbiere’

3.   Car Ferries: Car ferries are basically cargo ferries that help carry cars and other automobile vehicles. Car ferries have two different interpretations. In the United States, car ferries are used to ferry railway carts or cars. These railway cars are loaded into the ferry with the help of tracks that can be attached and detached at will. These attachable and detachable adjustments are also called as Roll-On/Roll-Off ramps. These ramps form the car ferry type in the United Kingdom.

Car Ferry at the Vancouver Island

4.  Double-Ended Ferries:  The front and the back portion of this type of ferry  known as the prow and the stern can be alternated. In simple terms, it can be said that while making a journey to a particular port, the prow and the stern remain as the parts mentioned; while the ferry makes a return journey, the prow gets converted into the stern and vice verse.

A Double-Ended Ferry ‘Frisia IV’
B. Cruise Liners:

  A cruise ship is a luxury vessel that is used to take passengers on a pleasure voyage in a journey that is as much a part of the experience as the various destinations on the way. In contrast to an ocean liner that transports passengers from one point on the globe to the other often across the oceans, a cruise ship or a cruise liner as it is known by most, takes the people on board to a round trip that is of varied duration, from a single day to possibly a week and culminates at the originating port.
 This is a very refreshing mode of enjoyment and recreation, which relaxes the mind and replenishes energies to a great extent.The best thing about these cruises is that you can define your own fun and style while on them. And luxury gets redefined if you are cruising on the biggest cruises around the world.

1.       MS Allure of the Seas

This is THE biggest cruise ship created ever. Ordered in 2006, this ship is owned by the Royal Caribbean International Company. Besides its gigantic size, Allure of the seas features a double deck dance hall, a theatre with a capacity of 1385 people, an ice rink, 25 dining options and a crew of over 2000 people at your service all the time.

allure of the seas 050 Top 10 Biggest Cruise Ships in the World in 2011

This ship stands 72 m tall with a 360 m length to its credit. You can enjoy fine dining in any of the dining halls, spend a fun evening watching aerial acrobats or just surf through the garden lined shopping center of the ship while you sip your Starbucks coffee on board. Ever since its maiden voyage in November 2010, the ship has redefined luxurious cruises.

2.       MS Oasis of the Seas
Second on the list of largest cruise ships is MS Oasis of the Seas, only 50 mm shorter than the first one. The two sister ships are together owned by Royal Caribbean International.

300px Oasis of the Seas Top 10 Biggest Cruise Ships in the World in 2011
MS Oasis flaunts a total of 16 decks, six marine diesel engines that allows it a maximum speed of 22.6 knots and three diesel run engines to produce on board electricity for the ship. The electricity produced is used to run the ship’s huge theatre, all the dining halls that serve delicacies from around the world.

3.       Norwegian Epic
This huge vessel places third amongst the biggest cruises of the world. Norwegian Epic has a length of 329.49 m with a 40 m beam. With 19 decks and a gross tonnage of 155,873 GT, this ship has a capacity of 4100 passengers.Ship profile Top 10 Biggest Cruise Ships in the World in 2011
But that’s not all that makes this ship one of the best luxurious cruises around. On this ship, you can enjoy everything from an ice bar to a bowling alley, shopping, theme parks and great dining experiences in one of the 21 dining halls.

4.       MS Freedom of the Seas
Another gem in the Royal Caribbean cruise lines, MS freedom of the Seas, launched in 2006, is a 338.9 m long beauty with a beam of 38m. It ranks fourth among the largest cruise ships of the world but is one of its own when it comes to luxury.

rci freedom 1 Top 10 Biggest Cruise Ships in the World in 2011
With a capacity of 3634 passengers, this ship offers everything from Irish pubs to best quality coffee, casinos, ice rinks and many opportunities for great family time.

5.       MS Liberty of the Sea
In 2007, the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line launched a 15 deck ship with a capacity of 3634 passengers making it the fifth of the largest cruise ships in world.freedom 1 Top 10 Biggest Cruise Ships in the World in 2011
This cruiser is 338.9 m long with a gross tonnage of 154, 407 tons. The options for leisure on this ship include ice rinks, volleyball court, fitness center, children’s play area, fitness center and much more.

III}Multi-Purpose Ships are used to various purposes at high seas such as cable laying, making floating cities, ice-breaking at the poles,for research purposes,etc

Here are a few of the famous ships.

1. Fire Boat:

  A boat that is specifically equipped to take care of any fire emergencies arising on ships and on ports is known as a fireboat. The function of these vessels however is not just restricted to extinguishing and solving potential fire problems, but includes a number of other roles and responsibilities as well.Foe example they are used to thaw and cut ice during winter and escort visiting ships of various dignitaries.

  Contemporary Fire boats have an average capacity to let out 45000 litres of water every minute besides travelling at a top speed of 17 knots.
Fire Boat during an emergency drill in Bay of Biscay

2.  Wind Turbine Ship:

  Today, wind turbines set up at high seas have to be carried to required field where the installation needs to be set up. Through this venture, the lengthy and complex process of installing wind turbines will be eliminated paving way for faster and simpler installations.This method of wind turbine installation in the high seas follows pre-assembled wind turbines that are transported to the designated area where the turbine foundations are built.

carousel 1 New Wind Turbine Ship Design Unveiled
A design of the modern Wind Turbine Ship

3. Cable Laying Ship:

  Cable Laying ships are used to carry out the task of underwater cable laying which are useful in communication and electricity purposes.

Tyco Resolute Dbn Jones 20090223 Tyco Resolute: The Mightiest Cable Laying Ship at the Sea
Tyco Resolute which travels at 14 knots ensuring faster and efficient
cable laying covering 25000 miles in 60  active days.

4. Ice-Breaker Ship:

  The icebreaker ships, moving and navigating through ice-covered waters, requires three traits of a strengthened hull, an ice-clearing shape, and a great momentum and the power of a robust engine to push through the frozen land. Ice breaker ships are of utmost importance in ice-clad regions, wherein water ways need to be made accessible by clearing off the layers of ice.

100112 G XXXXC 004 Operatio 300x200 Top 5 Biggest Ice Breaker Ships in the World in 2011
USCGC Mackinaw largest ice breaker in world breaks
8 feet thick ice at 3 knots ahead or 2 knots astern

5. Whaler:

  A whaler is a ship that is used mainly for the purpose of catching whales and then processing the required parts into appropriately useful commodities. It is possible that in the next few years, whalers may be banned but they continue to be source of food for many.

A whaler ship
6. Factory Ship:

A factory ship is a type of ship that is used to freeze and process the fishes caught from oceans. This idea of the factory ships originated from the whaler concept of ships.Factory ships, in addition to being a single concentrated processing place for fishes also function as a ship which carries other smaller fishing ships.

Another type of fishing trawler is the factory stern trawler which has a trawler towed or attached to it specifically for the purpose of fishing. The main feature about this type of fishing trawler is that the stern and other trawlers towed to are placed side-by-side with a fishing net separating them. The net ensures the catch of the fishes while the trawlers move in the water.

The largest factory trawler ‘Atlantic Dawn’ operating in French Waters
7. Cigarette Boat

  Cigarette boats were developed by Donald Joel Aronow, a professional racer in the high seas. Over the years, this name was adapted and modified to include all sorts of boats that had similar features to the Cigarette boat.The Cigarette boat is known for its speed in the water. The boat has a capacity to reach a speed of around 80 knots in the water. This is why these power boats are mainly used in professional high seas racing.
These boats can accommodate six people but three are required to control the speed boat

8.  Cuddy Boat

  Cuddy refers to the boats which are small in size.These boats are used for recreational purposes known for the facilities they offer.It is small and therefore easy to maintain.These boats are used for family gatherings and small parties.Due to their size, they are easy to navigate.
  Sanitation and washroom facilities are also provided for in the cuddy boats.Moreover, specific bunks are provided so that staying and sleeping on the boat becomes feasible to the users. Many cuddy cabins are also provided with swimming pool, and tow-hook, in case a person wants to ski on the water.
A Cuddy Boat

9.  Crane Vessels

  Crane vessel has a crane attached to it. It is significant while constructing structures in the high seas.The role of crane ship is similar to the cranes that are used in day-to-day construction and hauling business activities. The only difference is the fact that the former variation of crane is used in the seas whilst the latter on firm ground.
All such crane vessels are capable of lifting heavy tonnage, but different varieties offer different features and USP to their clients. The main difference can be elaborated as follows:

Common Crane Vessels: These types of naval cranes are more commonly known around. These cranes can be used to haul and lift around 2,500 tons. Additionally, another major feature is that it is movable, which means, the crane can be moved to the place where the item to be lifted is located, thus offering lots of flexibility.

Semi-Submersible: These types of cranes offer a lot of stability to the equipment that is being carried. As the name goes, semi-submersible cranes submerge partially into the water to give the weight placed on top of them the balance required. This balance provided ensures that the item carried does not topple into the water and thereby cause serious problems not just to the business concerned but also to the marine ecosystem. The weight carrying capacity of such semi-submersible cranes varies from one naval vessel to another. However, the heaviest limit that such semi-submersibles can carry extends to around 14,000 tonnes.

Sheerlegs: These types of cranes are immovable. In other words, the weight that has to be loaded on them has to be brought to them so that they can be hauled. The weight carrying capacity of such cranes varies from around 50 tonnes to around 4000 tonnes.

Today with the help of a crane ship important oil rigs are constructed so as to enable the world to get precious oil from oceanic sources.

10. Tug Boats

  These are relatively smaller but very powerful for their size. These are primarily used to tug or pull vessels that cannot move by themselves like disabled ships, oil platforms and barges or those that should not move like a big or loaded ship in a narrow canal or a crowded harbor. In addition tug boats are also used as ice breakers or salvage boats and as they are built with fire fighting guns and monitors, they assist in the fire fighting duties especially at harbors and when required even at sea.

A Tug Boat

Naval Vessels(War Ships) are ships that are exclusively designed for combat. They are used in battles and wars and have quite different features and characteristics than any other sea vessel. These ships are a lot faster and quicker to maneuver and are built strong to withstand damage and adverse conditions.The earliest ships of combative features can be traced back to the 4th century B.C. They were called galleys and were narrow with multiple oarsmen on its banks to propel it forward.

  War ships can be broadly classified into categories namely frigates, cruisers, destroyers, aircraft carriers, corvettes, amphibious assault ships and submarines. The aircraft carrier is the biggest of these and the submarines arguable the deadliest at sea. 

1.  Aircraft Carriers

  A aircraft carrier is a modern war ship used to deploy and recover fighter aircrafts at seas as a transporting airbase.Aircraft carriers act for navies as an air power without having to depend on local bases for staging aircraft operations. They have evolved from wooden vessels used to deploy balloons into nuclear-powered warships that carry dozens of fixed wing and rotary-wing aircraft.Aircraft carriers are most important ship of a fleet and are extremely expensive to build and important to protect.

Aircraft Carrier under Construction in Kerala,India which once completed in
2014 will make India third nation in world to have built a indigenous Aircraft Carrier
A file photo of US Navy’s Future Aircraft Carrier

2. Assault Ships

  An assault ship is employed to land and support ground forces on enemy territory by an amphibious assault. The design evolved from the helicopter carrier, but includes support for amphibious landing craft.
The aviation facilities have the primary role of hosting helicopters to support forces ashore rather than to support strike aircraft. However, they are capable of serving in the sea-control role, embarking aircraft. Most of these ships can also carry or support landing craft, such as air-cushioned landing craft (hovercraft) or LCUs.

The Australian assault ship HMAS Kanimbla returns to Sydney following her leading role in the war to remove Saddam Hussein from power. Photo: RAN.
An Australian Assault Ship HMAS Kanimbla returns to Sydney after removing Saddam Hussein from power

3. Corvette

  A corvette is a small, maneuverable, lightly armed warship, originally smaller than a frigate and larger than a coastal patrol craft or fast attack craft although many recent designs resemble frigates in size and role.They are usually armed with medium- and small-caliber guns, surface-to-surface missiles, surface-to-air missiles, and underwater warfare weapons. Many can accommodate a small or medium anti-submarine warfare helicopter.

An Israeli Corvette Eilat

4. Destroyers

A destroyer is a fast and maneuverable warship used to escort larger vessels in a fleet, convoy or battle group and defend them against smaller, powerful, short-range attackers. Destroyers, originally called torpedo-boat destroyers in 1892, evolved from the response of navies to the threat posed by the torpedo boat.

VMF Admiral Vinogradov of the Udaloy class of destroyers
is one of most modern destroyers in Russian Navy

5. Frigate

  Frigate was earlier a term used to signify speed and maneuverability of a ship.Today,frigates are used to protect other warships and merchant-marine ships, especially as anti-submarine warfare (ASW) combatants for amphibious expeditionary forces, underway replenishment groups, and merchant convoys. Frigates resemble corvettes, destroyers, cruisers and even battleships.

Shivalik Class Frigate INS Sahyadri commissioned in Mid-2011

6. Submarine

  A submarine is a watercraft capable of independent operation below the surface of the water.Military usage includes attacking enemy surface ships or submarines, aircraft carrier protection,blockade running, ballistic missile submarines as part of a nuclear strike force, reconnaissance, conventional land attack,cruise missile attacks and covert insertion of special forces. Civilian uses for submarines include marine science, salvage, exploration and facility inspection/maintenance. Submarines can also be modified to perform more specialized functions such as search-and-rescue missions or undersea cable repair. Submarines are also used in tourism, and for undersea archaeology.

Typhoon Class Nuclear Submarine developed by Soviet Navy in 1980s
deepstar used tourist submarine
File Photo of the most advanced tourist submarine in
world capable of carrying 45 passengers on board

7.  Cruiser

Cruiser is a type of warship similar to frigates.The role of the cruiser varied according to ship and navy, often including air defence, commerce raiding and shore bombardment. The U.S. Navy in the Cold War period built guided-missile cruisers primarily designed to provide air defence, while the navy of the USSR built cruisers with heavy anti-ship missiles designed to sink NATO carrier task forces.Today only three navies namely US, Russian and Peruvian Navy have ongoing services of the cruisers at seas.

Russian navy’s nuclear powered heavy missile cruiser ”Pyotr Veliki”


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