Ship type

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Ship Types

See also Category:Ship type for a list of articles of individual ship types on Narciki.

In general, ship types are classified by the purpose, ownership, configuration, size, construction and/or propulsion. As these properties are not mutually exclusive, ship types cannot be inclusively classified in a hierarchy - rather, a ship type defines a number of vessels by the properties this class shares. These can be broad distinctions, such as 'sail powered', or quite narrow - such as a single-class race boat. This article considers a number of ship types:


Broad Methods of Classification

Distinguishing Features

Vessels may be categorized by distinguishing features. These features are innate to the vessel, without regard to how it is used or operated. The primary distinguishing features consist of:

  1. Method of Buoyancy (hydrostatic, hydrodynamic, aerostatic)
  2. Disposition of Hulls (monohull or multihull [catamaran, trimiran, pentamaran])
  3. Size (boat vs. ship)
  4. Propulsion (sail, steam, diesel, hybrid, etc.)
  5. Equipment (presence of heavy lift cranes or dredging equipment for example)


  1. Cargo/Merchant
  2. Military
  3. Pleasure/Passenger
  4. Government (Research, rescue, icebreaking)
  5. Service (inclusive of inshore & non-powered)

How & Where Used

  1. Powered vs. Unpowered (barges)
  2. Of above, Inland vs. Seagoing
  3. Of above, transport vs. non-transport
  4. Of above, distinguish by service


Including the concept of generations (i.e., semisubmersible generations), these are temporal based distinctions:

  1. The age of sail
  2. The steam era

Groupings of Ship Types

Haphardly, various groupings of vessels:


  • Barebone Lease


With the exception of yachts, pleasure craft tend to be small, unclassed vessels. Many are exempt from regulations for ownership, maintainance, construction or use (kayak or canoes).


See workboat(type) Workboats are service ships with industrial or support roles. They tend to be rugged deep ocean ships.

Merchant Vessels

Merchant vessels are ships which exist for the purpose of generating revenue for the owner. They may follow a schedule (liner) or operate as per their need (tramp). Merchant ships can be classed by the type of cargo they carry (bulk, general).

Naval Vessels

Naval vessels are armed ships owned by nations.

Government Vessels

Government owned ships do not (generally) generate revenue, rather continuously cost the country of ownership money. Lifecycle and aquisition costs in a political apmosphere drive designs.

Offshore Oil

Specialized & Other

See also

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