Modern Vessel Types

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Modern vessels types are many, so they are first categorized by their general function (recreational, commercial fishing, passenger, cargo, warfare, enforcement, research, recovery, etc). Recreational vessels are further grouped by hull material (wood, metal, fiberglass, inflated, etc), number of hulls (monohull, multihull, etc), source of propulsion (human, sail, powered, etc), Speed (displacement, planing, performance, etc), and specific use (cruising, fishing, racing, skiing, etc).

Boat Types from Wikipedia.

Recreational Vessels (Pleasurecraft)

Rowed & Paddled

Portland Pudgy safety dinghy & yacht tender.

Dingy – A small open boat propelled by oars.

Canoe – A lightweight narrow boat, typically pointed at both ends and open on top, propelled by one or more seated or kneeling paddlers facing the direction of travel using a single-bladed paddle

Kayak – A small, narrow boat primarily designed to be manually propelled by means of a double-bladed paddle. The traditional kayak has a covered deck and one or more cockpits, each seating one paddler.

More about rowboats from Wikipedia.


The gaff topsail schooner Te Vega in the Hudson River in 1976.

Sailing Dingy – A small open boat as above, but rigged with a mast and sail.

Catboat – A sailing vessel characterized by a single mast carried well forward (i.e., near the bow of the boat).

Sloop – A fore and aft-rigged sailing vessel with a single mast and two sails, typically a Bermuda rigged main, and a headsail.

Cutter –  A fore and aft-rigged sailing vessel with a single mast and two or more headsails. The mast may be set farther back than on a sloop.

Ketch – A fore and aft-rigged sailing vessel with two masts. The forward mast (“mainmast”) is smaller then on a sloop or cutter, but still larger than the after mast (“mizzen”). The principal purpose of the mizzen sail is to help propel the vessel as part of the working sail, the sail area being split up between two masts to ease handling.

Yawl – A fore and aft-rigged sailing vessel with two-masts. The forward mast (“mainmast”) is similar in size to a sloop or cutter. The after mast (“mizzen”) is shorter then on a ketch and is located well aft of the main mast, often right on the transom, or aft of the rudder post if the vessel has an inboard hung rudder. The principal purpose of the mizzen sail is to help trim and balance, working more as an “air rudder” or trim tab than as a substantial part of the working sail.

Schooner – A fore and aft-rigged vessel with two or more masts of which the foremast is shorter than the main.

Catamaran – A multihulled vessel consisting of two parallel hulls of equal size

Trimaran – A multihull boat that comprises a main hull and two smaller outrigger hulls (or “floats”) which are attached to the main hull with lateral beams.

Gaff rig – A fore and aft-rigged vessel with a four-cornered sail controlled at its peak and, usually, its entire head by a spar (pole) called the gaff.

More about sailboats from Wikipedia.


North Pacific 43 foot Pilothouse trawler yacht.

Airboat (also known as a fanboat) – A flat-bottomed vessel (jon boat) propelled in a forward direction by an aircraft-type propeller and powered by either an aircraft or automotive engine. Airboats are a very popular means of transportation in the Florida Everglades, parts of the Indian River Lagoon, the Kissimmee and St. Johns Rivers, as well as Louisiana Bayous, where they are used for fishing, bowfishing, hunting and eco-tourism, and in other marshy and/or shallow areas where a standard inboard or outboard engine with a submerged propeller would be impractical.

Bass Boat are generally 14′ to 23′, and typically used for freshwater fishing. They have low freeboard and a V hull. They are specialized for bass fishing on inland lakes and rivers. Due to the special gear, high horsepower outboards and trolling motors they are a relatively high price point.

Bay Boat have a low profile. They are designed for use in shallow waters of large shallow bays, estuaries or near shore. Bay boats are 18’–24′ in length and are fiberglass because they are used in salt or brackish waters. They have more freeboard than a flats boat.

Bowriders have an open bow area designed for extra seats forward of the helm. Bowriders are usually 17’–30′. They are powered by either stern drive or outboard engines. They are considered a family boat and can be used for fishing and water sports. A good choice for those new to boating.

Center Console boats are from 13’–45′. They are so-named because their helm is on a console in the center of the boat. Like walkarounds, the open hull helps anglers walk from bow to stern without having to navigate around the console. Most use outboard motors for propulsion and the larger size boats are suited for offshore fishing.

Convertible Fishing Boats are 35 foot and greater boats. They are suited for offshore fishing and cruising. They have out large cabins, galleys and berths. They are perfect for pleasure cruises and offshore fishing. The flybridge with elevated helm helps to spot flotsam or fish. They have a large fishing deck aft.

Cruisers are from 21’–45′ in length and have a cabin in the bow of the boat. Cruiser cabins are designed for an overnight stay and are typically large enough for a small galley, several berths and an enclosed head.

Cuddy cabin boats have a small cabin for storage or a small seating area. They may accommodate a berth and or head. They are usually about 22–30 feet in length.

Deck Boats have a wide beam and feature a V-shaped hull which offers more performance than a pontoon boat. They feature an open deck with plenty of seating. These are generally party or family boats. They are used for swimming and water sports. They are outboard or stern drive powered and can be aluminum or fiberglass. Generally these boat are about 25–35 feet long.

Dinghy is a small boat, usually 7–12 feet in length. They are usually powered by oars, small outboards, or sails. Often carried or towed by a larger boat for going ashore. Low cost and an excellent choice for those new to boating.

Downeast Cruisers are native to coastal New England. Also called lobster boats, they are built for offshore cruising and fishing. They have a cabin with berths and a head and dining area.

Dual Console boats have two dashboards and windshields with space to walk between them for allowing access to the bow area for seating and/or fishing. Lengths run 16–30 feet.

Express Fisherman are designed for high speeds to get to offshore fishing spots in a hurry. They are rigged for offshore fishing. They have large open cockpits and fish fighting areas aft. They usually have limited cruising accommodations but can provide overnight shelter.

Fish ‘n Ski boats are used for fishing or skiing. These are family boats. They have accessories for each application. They feature comfortable seating and offer livewells and tie downs for rods and have removable, elevated tow bars and ski lockers. They are usually 16–24 feet in length.

Flats Boat range from 14 feet to 18 feet and are specifically designed to navigate shallow waters needing extremely shallow drafts. A push pole is used to navigate the shallow water.

Performance powerboats are built for speed, featuring narrow beam, steep deadrise, and high power to weight ratios. They have Spartan cabins. Cockpits seat 2–6 passengers. Powered by high horsepower outboards, stern drives or surface drives, these boats are carefully designed to be fast, light and strong, ideal for racing or fast cruising. They range from 25–60 feet in length.

Houseboats are floating houses. They are either outboard or inboard propelled and range from 25 to 150 feet in length. Just like a house they have full kitchens, bedrooms and living and dining areas. They are the ultimate family boat. They are generally found on quieter bodies of water since they have low freeboards and are built on a barge-like hull.

Inflatable Boats are usually 6’–14′ in length and have inflatable tubes for their sides. The floor is flexible or made rigid using plywood or aluminum floorboards depending on the size. Outboard motors can be used on the rigid transom. These boat deflate and are easy to transport or store. Often used as dinghies on larger boats. A good choice for those new to boating.

Jet Boats have single or multiple jet drives instead of a propeller for propulsion. They are very maneuverable. These smaller boats (14–24 feet) are generally used for water sports and getting into shallow waters.

Jon boats are small utility craft primarily used for boating in shallow water. They range from 10 to 18 feet in length. They can be made of aluminum or fiberglass. They are inexpensive and a good choice for the novice boater.

Multi-species boats are 17–23 feet in length. They are made of fiberglass or aluminum. They are designed to travel in rougher water than bass boats. As the name implies, these boats are made for fishing a variety of different fish in all types of water.

Pilothouse Boats feature a fully enclosed pilot house. These boats are built to ride rougher seas while keeping helmsman high and dry. They are powered by outboards, stern drives or inboards. They are popular for cruising and many types of fishing. They usually have a berth and a head. They are usually 20–35 feet in length.

Pontoon boats have 2 or 3 aluminum tubes that support a broad platform. They have shallow drafts and are very stable. They are usually found on inland lakes and rivers and other small bodies of water. They are used for cruising, fishing and water sports. They are usually powered by an outboard or stern-drive. They come in lengths from 15–30 feet.

Power Catamarans are dual-hull boats and are generally used for offshore fishing. They are more rugged, provide a more stable ride, faster speeds and better fuel economy than mono-hulls. They are 25–40 feet in length.

PWC (Personal Watercraft) are entry level boats. fun to drive and fairly economical to buy. They come in lengths from 9–14 feet. They are usually built for 1 or 2 people but larger, more powerful models can seat up to 4. They are powered by jet drive.

Rigid Inflatable Boats (RIBs) have a fiberglass or aluminum hull attached to inflatable outer tubes. Outboard motors are used on the transom for power. RIBs are usually faster, larger, and can carry more weight than flexible floored inflatables. They also come in larger sizes.

Runabouts are generally defined as small powerboats somewhere in the 14–24 foot range. They are usually powered by an outboard or stern-drive engine. They are a multipurpose boat suitable for water sports, cruising and fishing.

Sedan Bridge Boats are intended for extended cruising with accommodations down below to suit long stays on the water. They range from about 35–65 feet. The bridge positions the helmsman high above the water allowing for great visibility.

Ski and Wakeboard Boats are designed specifically for water sports. They can be ballasted for producing higher wakes for trick skiing and waterboarding. They are also great for pulling inflatable tubes.

Skiffs are similar to Jon boats. They are especially good for boating in shallow water. The can have flat or cathedral shaped hulls. Many have a console helm.

Utility Boats are usually made for tough use. They are generally aluminum with outboard power. They range from 12–20 feet. Used for fishing or as workboats.

Walkarounds allow an angler to walk around the cabin. They are generally 20–30 feet in length. They are usually found on larger bodies of water and can be powered by an outboard, Inboard/outboard or inboard engine.

More about recreational boats from BoatUS and Wikipedia.

Commercial Vessels (Maritime)

Commercial Fishing Boats

Crab boat from the North Frisian Islands working in the North Sea.

The 200-mile fishing limit has changed fishing patterns and, in recent times, fishing boats are becoming more specialised and standardised. In the United States and Canada more use is made of large factory trawlers, while the huge blue water fleets operated by Japan and the Soviet-bloc countries have contracted. In western Europe, fishing vessel design is focused on compact boats with high catching power.

Commercial fishing is a high risk industry, and countries are introducing regulations governing the construction and operation of fishing vessels. The International Maritime Organization, convened in 1959 by the United Nations, is responsible for devising measures aimed at the prevention of accidents, including standards for ship design, construction, equipment, operation and manning.

According to the FAO, in 2004 the world’s fishing fleet consisted of 4 million vessels. Of these, 1.3 million were decked vessels with enclosed areas. The rest were open vessels, of which two-thirds were traditional craft propelled by sails and oars. By contrast, nearly all decked vessels were mechanized. Of the decked vessels, 86 percent are found in Asia, 7.8 percent in Europe, 3.8 percent in North and Central America, 1.3 percent in Africa, 0.6 percent in South America and 0.4 percent in Oceania. Most commercial fishing boats are small, usually less than 30 metres (98 ft) but up to 100 metres (330 ft) for a large purse seiner or factory ship.

Commercial fishing vessels can be classified by architecture, the type of fish they catch, the fishing method used, or geographical origin. The following classification follows the FAO, who classify commercial fishing vessels by the gear they use.


A trawler is a fishing vessel designed to use trawl nets in order to catch large volumes of fish.

Outrigger trawlers – use outriggers to tow the trawl. These are commonly used to catch shrimp. One or two otter trawls can be towed from each side. Beam trawlers, employed in the North sea for catching flatfish, are another form of outrigger trawler. Medium sized and high powered vessels, these tow a beam trawl on each side at speeds up to 8 knots.
Beam trawlers – use sturdy outrigger booms for towing a beam trawl, one warp on each side.

Double-rig beam trawlers can tow a separate trawl on each side of the trawler. Beam trawling is used in the flatfish and shrimp fisheries in the North Sea. They are medium sized and high powered vessels, towing gear at speeds up to 8 knots. To avoid the boat capsizing if the trawl snags on the sea floor, winch brakes can be installed, along with safety release systems in the boom stays. The engine power of bottom trawlers is also restricted to 2000 HP (1472 KW) for further safety.

Otter trawlers – deploy one or more parallel trawls kept apart horizontally using otter boards. These trawls can be towed in midwater or along the bottom.

Pair trawlers – are trawlers which operate together towing a single trawl. They keep the trawl open horizontally by keeping their distance when towing. Otter boards are not used. Pair trawlers operate both midwater and bottom trawls.

Side trawlers – have the trawl set over the side with the trawl warps passing through blocks which hang from two gallows, one forward and one aft. Until the late sixties, side trawlers were the most familiar vessel in the North Atlantic deep sea fisheries. They evolved over a longer period than other trawler types, but are now being replaced by stern trawlers.

Stern trawlers – have trawls which are deployed and retrieved from the stern. Larger stern trawlers often have a ramp, though pelagic and small stern trawlers are often designed without a ramp. Stern trawlers are designed to operate in most weather conditions. They can work alone when midwater or bottom trawling, or two can work together as pair trawlers.

Freezer trawlers – The majority of trawlers operating on high sea waters are freezer trawlers. They have facilities for preserving fish by freezing, allowing them to stay at sea for extended periods of time. They are medium to large size trawlers, with the same general arrangement as stern or side trawlers.

Wet fish trawlers – are trawlers where the fish is kept in the hold in a fresh/wet condition. They must operate in areas not far distant from their landing place, and the fishing time of such vessels is limited.


Seiners use surrounding and seine nets. This is a large group ranging from open boats as small as 10 metres (33 ft) in length to ocean-going vessels. There are also specialised gears that can target demersal species.

Purse seiners are very effective at targeting aggregating pelagic species near the surface. The seiner circles the shoal with a deep curtain of netting, possibly using bow thrusters for better manoeuvrability. Then the bottom of the net is pursed (closed) underneath the fish shoal by hauling a wire running from the vessel through rings along the bottom of the net and then back to the vessel. The most important part of the fishing operation is searching for the fish shoals and assessing their size and direction of movement. Sophisticated electronics, such as echosounders, sonar, and track plotters, may be used are used to search for and track schools; assessing their size and movement and keeping in touch with the school while it is surrounded with the seine net. Crows nests may be built on the masts for further visual support. Large vessels can have observation towers and helicopter landing decks. Helicopters and spotter planes are used for detecting fish schools. The main types of purse seiners are the American seiners, the European seiners and the Drum seiners. American seiners have their bridge and accommodation placed forward with the working deck aft. American seiners are most common on both coasts of North America and in other areas of Oceania. The net is stowed at the stern and is set over the stern. The power block is usually attached to a boom from a mast located behind the superstructure. American seiners use Triplerollers. A purse line winch is located amidships near the hauling station, near the side where the rings are taken on board.
European seiners have their bridge and accommodation located more to the after part of the vessel with the working deck amidships. European seiners are most common in waters fished by European nations. The net is stowed in a net bin at the stern, and is set over the stern from this position. The pursing winch is normally positioned at the forward part of the working deck.
Drum seiners have the same layout as American seiners except a drum is mounted on the stern and used instead of the power block. They are mainly used in Canada and USA.
Tuna purse seiners are large purse seiners, normally over 45 metres, equipped to handle large and heavy purse seines for tuna. They have the same general arrangement as the American seiner, with the bridge and accommodation placed forward. A crows nest or tuna tower is positioned at the top of the mast, outfitted with the control and manoeuvre devices. A very heavy boom which carries the power block is fitted at the mast. They often carry a helicopter to search for tuna schools. On the deck are three drum purse seine winches and a power block, with other specific winches to handle the heavy boom and net. They are usually equipped with a skiff.

Seine netters – the basic types of seine netters are the anchor seiners and Scottish seiner in northern Europe and the Asian seiners in Asia. Anchor seiners have the wheelhouse and accommodation aft and the working deck amidships, thus resembling side trawlers. The seine net is stored and shot from the stern, and they may carry a power block. Anchor seiners have the coiler and winch mounted transversally amidships.
Scottish seiners are basically configured the same as anchor seiners. The only difference is that, whereas the anchor seiner has the coiler and winch mounted transversally amidships, the Scottish seiner has them mounted transversally in the forward part of the vessel.
Asian seiners – In Asia, the seine netter usually has the wheelhouse forward and the working deck aft, in the manner of a stern trawler. However, in regions where the fishing effort is a labour-intensive, low-technology approach, they are often undecked and may be powered by outboards motors, or even by sail.

Line Vessels

Longliners – use one or more long heavy fishing lines with a series of hundreds or even thousands of baited hooks hanging from the main line by means of branch lines called “snoods”. Hand operated longlining can be operated from boats of any size. The number of hooks and lines handled depends on the size of vessel, the number of crew, and the level of mechanisation. Large purpose built longliners can be designed for single species fisheries such as tuna. On such larger vessels the bridge is usually placed aft, and the gear is hauled from the bow or from the side with mechanical or hydraulic line haulers. The lines are set over the stern. Automatic or semi-automatic systems are used to bait hooks and shoot and haul lines. These systems include rail rollers, line haulers, hook separators, dehookers and hook cleaners, and storage racks or drums. To avoid incidental catches of seabirds, an outboard setting funnel is used to guide the line from the setting position on the stern down to a depth of 1 or 2 metres (3 ft 3 in or 6 ft 7 in). Small scale longliners handle the gear by hand. The line is stored into baskets or tubs, perhaps using a hand cranked line drum.
Bottom longliners.
Midwater longliners – are usually medium sized vessels which operate worldwide, purpose built to catch large pelagics. The line hauler is usually forward starboard, where the fish are hauled through a gate in the rail. The lines are set from the stern where a baiting table and chute are located. These boats need adequate speed to reach distant fishing grounds, enough endurance for continued fishing, adequate freezing storage, suitable mechanisms for shooting and hauling longlines quickly, and proper storage for fishing gears and accessories.
Freezer longliners – are outfitted with freezing equipment. The holds are insulated and refrigerated. Freezer longliners are medium to large with the same general characteristics of other longliners. Most longliners operating on the high seas are freezer longliners.
Factory longliners – are generally equipped with processing plant, including mechanical gutting and filleting equipment accompanied by freezing facilities, as well as fish oil, fish meal and sometimes canning plants. These vessels have a large buffer capacity. Thus, caught fish can be stored in refrigerated sea water tanks and piks in the catch can also be used. Freezer longliners are large ships, working the high seas with the same general characteristics of other large longliners.
Wet-fish longliners – keep the caught fish in the hold in the fresh/wet condition. The fish is stored in boxes and covered with ice, or stored with ice in the fish hold. The fishing time of such vessels is limited, so they operate close to the landing place.

Pole and line vessels – are used mainly to catch tuna and skipjack. The fishers stand at the railing or on special platforms and fish with poles and lines. The lines havehooks which are baited, preferably with live bait. Caught tuna are swung on board, by two to three fishermen if the tuna is big, or with an automated swinging mechanism. The tuna usually release themselves from the barbless hook when they hit the deck. Tanks with live bait are placed round the decks, and water spray systems are used to attract the fish. The vessels are 15 to 45 metres (49 to 148 ft) o/a. On smaller vessels fishers fish from the main deck right around the boat. With larger vessels, there are two different deck styles: the American style and the Japanese style.[38]American style – fishers stand on platforms arranged over the side abaft amidships and around the stern. The vessel moves ahead during fishing operation.[39]
Japanese style – fishers stand at the rail in the forepart of the vessel. The vessel drifts during fishing operations.

Trollers – catch fish by towing astern one of more trolling lines. A trolling line is a fishing line with natural or artificial baited hooks trailed by a vessel near the surface or at a certain depth. Several lines can be towed at the same time using outriggers to keep the lines apart. The lines can be hauled in manually or by small winches. A length of rubber is often included in each line as a shock absorber. The trolling line is towed at a speed depending on the target species, from 2.3 knots up to at least 7 knots. Trollers range from small open boats to large refrigerated vessels 30 metres (98 ft) long. In many tropical artisanal fisheries, trolling is done with sailing canoes with outriggers for stability. With properly designed vessels, trolling is an economical and efficient way of catching tuna, mackerel and other pelagic fish swimming close to the surface. Purpose built trollers are usually equipped with two or four trolling booms raised and lowered by topping lifts, held in position by adjustable stays. Electrically powered or hydraulic reels can be used to haul in the lines.

Jiggers – there are two types of jiggers: specialised squid jiggers which work mostly in the southern hemisphere and smaller vessels using jigging techniques in the northern hemisphere mainly for catchingcod.[42]Squid jiggers – have single or double drum jigger winches lined along the rails around the vessel. Strong lamps, up to 5000 W each, are used to attract the squid. These are arranged 50–60 centimetres (20–24 in) apart, either as one row in the centre of the vessel, or two rows, one on each side. As the squid are caught they are transferred by chutes to the processing plant of the vessel. The jigging motion can be produced mechanically by the shape of the drum or electronically by adjustment to the winch motor. Squid jiggers are often used during the day as midwater trawlers and during the night as jiggers.
Cod jiggers – use single jigger machines and do not use lights to attract the fish. The fish are attracted by the jigging motion and artificial bait.

Other Vessels

Dredgers – use a dredge for collecting molluscs from the seafloor. There are three types of dredges: (a) The dredge can be dragged along the seabed, scooping the shellfish from the ground. These dredges are towed in a manner similar to beam trawlers, and large dredgers can work three or more dredges on each side. (b) Heavy mechanical dredging units are operated by special gallows from the bow of the vessel. (c) The dredger employs a hydraulic dredge which uses a powerful water pump to operates water jets which flush the molluscs from the bottom. Dredgers don’t have a typical deck arrangement, the bridge and accommodation can be aft or forward. Derricks and winches may be installed for lowering and lifting the dredge. Echosounders are used for determining depths.[43]

Gillnetters – On inland waters and inshore, gillnets can be operated from open boats and canoes. In coastal waters, they are operated by small decked vessels which can have their wheelhouse either aft or forward. In coastal waters, gillnetting is often used as a second fishing method by trawlers or beam trawlers, depending on fishing seasons and targeted species. For offshore fishing, or fishing on the high seas, medium sized vessels using drifting gillnets are called drifters, and the bridge is usually located aft. The nets are set and hauled by hand on small open boats. Larger boats use hydraulic or occasionally mechanical net haulers, or net drums. These vessels can be equipped with an echosounder, although locating fish is more a matter of the fishermen’s personal knowledge of the fishing grounds rather than depending on special detection equipment.[44]Set netters – also operate gillnets. However, during fishing operations the vessel is not attached to the nets. The size of the vessels varies from open boats to large specialised drifters operating on the high seas. The wheelhouse is usually located aft, and the front deck is used for handling gear. Normally the nets are set at the stern by steaming ahead. Hauling is done over the side at the forepart of the deck, usually using hydraulic driven net haulers. Wet fish is packed in containers chilled with ice. Larger vessels might freeze the catch.

Lift netters – are equipped to operate lift nets, which are held from the vessel’s side and raised and lowered by means of outriggers. Lift netters range from open boats about 10 metres long to larger vessels with open ocean capability. Decked vessels usually have the bridge amidships. Larger vessels are often equipped with winches and derricks for handling the lifting lines, as well as outriggers and light booms. They can be fitted with powerful lights to attract and aggregate the fish to the surface. Open boats are usually unmechanized or use hand operated winches. Electronic equipment, such as fishfinders, sonar and echo sounders are used extensively on larger boats.

Trap setters – are used to set pots or traps for catching fish, crabs, lobsters, crayfish and other similar species. Trap setters range in size from open boats operating inshore to larger decked vessels, 20 to 50 metres long, operating out to the edge of the continental shelf. Small decked trap setters have the wheelhouse either forward or aft with the fish hold amidships. They use hydraulic or mechanical pot haulers. Larger vessels have the wheelhouse forward, and are equipped with derricks, davits or cranes for hauling pots aboard. Locating fish is often more a matter of the fishermen’s knowledge of the fishing grounds rather than the use of special detection equipment. Decked vessels are usually equipped with an echosounder, and large vessels may also have a Loran or GPS.

Handliners – are normally undecked vessels used for handlining (fishing with a line and hook). Handliners include canoes and other small or medium sized vessels. Traditional handliners are less than 12 metres o/a, and do not have special gear handling, there is no winch or gurdy. Locating fish is left to the fishermen’s personal knowledge of fishing grounds rather than the use of special electronic equipment. Non traditional handliners can set and haul using electrical or hydraulic powered reels. These mechanised reels are normally fastened to the gunwale or set on stanchions close to or overhanging the gunwale. They operate all over the world, some in shallow waters, some fishing up to 300 metres deep. No typical deck arrangement exists for handliners.

Multipurpose vessels – are vessels which are designed so they can deploy more than one type of fishing gear without major modifications to the vessels. The fish detection equipment present on board also changes according to which fishing gear is being used.[49]Trawler/Purse seiners – are designed so the deck arrangement and equipment, including a suitable combination winch, can be used for both methods. Rollers, blocks, trawl gallows and purse davits need to be arranged so they control the lead of warps and pursing lines in such a way as to reduce the time needed to convert from one type to the other. Typical fish detection equipment includes a sonar and an echosounder. These vessels are usually designed as trawlers, since the power requirement for trawling is higher.

Research vessels – a fisheries research vessel (FRV) requires platforms which are capable of towing different types of fishing nets, collecting plankton or water samples from a range of depths, and carrying acoustic fish-finding equipment. Fisheries research vessels are often designed and built along the same lines as a large fishing vessel, but with space given over to laboratories and equipment storage, as opposed to storage of the catch. An example of a fisheries research vessel is FRV Scotia.

More from Wikipedia.

Passenger Ships

MS Majesty of the Seas cruise ship.

A passenger ship is a merchant ship whose primary function is to carry passengers. The category does not include cargo vessels which have accommodations for limited numbers of passengers, such as the ubiquitous twelve-passenger freighters once common on the seas in which the transport of passengers is secondary to the carriage of freight. The type does however include many classes of ships designed to transport substantial numbers of passengers as well as freight. Indeed, until recently virtually allocean liners were able to transport mail, package freight and express, and other cargo in addition to passenger luggage, and were equipped with cargo holds and derricks, kingposts, or other cargo-handling gear for that purpose. Only in more recent ocean liners and in virtually all cruise ships has this cargo capacity been eliminated.

While typically passenger ships are part of the merchant marine, passenger ships have also been used as troopships and often are commissioned as naval ships when used as for that purpose.


Passenger ships include ferries, which are vessels for day or overnight short-sea trips moving passengers and vehicles (whether road or rail); ocean liners, which typically are passenger or passenger-cargo vessels transporting passengers and often cargo on longer line voyages; and cruise ships, which often transport passengers on round-trips, in which the trip itself and the attractions of the ship and ports visited are the principal draw.

An ocean liner is the traditional form of passenger ship. Once such liners operated on scheduled line voyages to all inhabited parts of the world. With the advent of airliners transporting passengers and specialized cargo vessels hauling freight, line voyages have almost died out. But with their decline came an increase in sea trips for pleasure, and in the latter part of the 20th century ocean liners gave way to cruise ships as the predominant form of large passenger ship, with the main area of activity changing from the North Atlantic Ocean to the Caribbean Sea.

Although some ships have characteristics of both types, the design priorities of the two forms are different: ocean liners value speed and traditional luxury while cruise ships value amenities (swimming pools, theaters, ball rooms, casinos, sports facilities, etc.) rather than speed. These priorities produce different designs. In addition, ocean liners typically were built to cross the Atlantic Ocean between Europe and the United States or travel even further to South America or Asia while cruise ships typically serve shorter routes with more stops along coastlines or among various islands.

For a long time, cruise ships were smaller than the old ocean liners had been, but in the 1980s, this changed when Knut Kloster, the director of Norwegian Caribbean Lines, bought one of the biggest surviving liners, the SS France, and transformed her into a huge cruise ship, which he renamed the SS Norway. Her success demonstrated that there was a market for large cruise ships. Successive classes of ever-larger ships were ordered, until the Cunard liner Queen Elizabeth was finally dethroned from her 56-year reign as the largest passenger ship ever built (a dethronement that led to numerous further dethronements from the same position).

Both the RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 (QE2) (1969) and her successor as Cunard’s flagship RMS Queen Mary 2 (QM2), which entered service in 2004, are of hybrid construction. Like transatlantic ocean liners, they are fast ships and strongly built to withstand the rigors of the North Atlantic in line voyage service, but both ships are also designed to operate as cruise ships, with the amenities expected in that trade. QM2 was superseded by the Freedom of the Seas of the Royal Caribbean line as the largest passenger ship ever built; however, QM2 still hold the record for the largest ocean liner. The Freedom of the Seas was superseded by the Oasis of the Seas in October 2009.

Measures of size

By convention and long usage, the size of civilian passenger ships is measured by gross tonnage, which is a dimensionless figure calculated from the total enclosed volume of the vessel. Gross tonnage is not a measure of weight, although the two concepts are often confused. Weight is measured by displacement, which is the conventional means of measuring naval vessels. Often a passenger ship is stated to “weigh” or “displace” a certain “tonnage”, but the figure given nearly always refers to gross tonnage, which in this context has nothing to do with weight.

While a high displacement can indicate better sea keeping abilities, gross tonnage is promoted as the most important measure of size for passengers, as the ratio of gross tonnage per passenger – the Passenger/Space Ratio – gives a sense of the spaciousness of a ship, an important consideration in cruise liners where the onboard amenities are of high importance.

Gross tonnage normally is a much higher value than displacement. This was not always the case; as the functions, engineering and architecture of ships have changed, the gross tonnage figures of the largest passenger ships have risen substantially, while the displacements of such ships have not. RMS Titanic, with a gross register tonnage of 46,329 GRT, but a displacement reported at over 52,000 tons,[6] was heavier than contemporary 100,000 – 110,000 GT cruise ships which displace only around 50,000 tons. Similarly, the Cunard Line’s RMS Queen Mary and RMS Queen Elizabeth, of approximately 81,000 – 83,000 GT, but displacements of over 80,000 tons, do not differ significantly in displacement from their new 148,528 GT successor, RMS Queen Mary 2, which has been estimated to displace approximately 76,000 tons With the completion in 2009 of Oasis of the Seas, the first of the Oasis Class ships, the Cunard Queens of the 1930s have clearly been passed in displacement, as the Oasis vessels were projected to displace about 100,000 tons.

However, by the conventional and historical measure of gross tonnage, there has been a recent dramatic increase in the size of the largest new ships. The Oasis of the Seas measures over 225,000 GT, over twice as large as the largest cruise ships of the late 1990s.

More from Wikipedia.

Cargo Ships

A Delmas container ship unloading at the Zanzibar port in Tanzania.

Until the 20th Century, ships generally, were all-purpose cargo vessels, with very little specialization (with the exception of tank vessels which first appeared in the 1880s). All cargoes were carried in general purpose holds, or on deck. Modern commercial vessels are designed and built to carry specific cargo types. The names we give to the various vessel types reflect the type of cargo for which they are designed and built to carry. For example, A “bulk carrier” is specially designed to carry cargo “in bulk” and the hatch cover and hold design is focussed on the carriage of raw dry cargo goods, such as coal, grain, iron ore and bauxite, which are simply poured into cavernous holds then grabbed and bulldozed out at the port of discharge.

Tankers carry liquid cargo in tanks The most obvious example is the well-known oil tanker, but even within this generic type, each tanker is specially designed to carry a particular type of liquid cargo, not just crude oil. Other liquid cargoes would include petroleum products, chemicals and yes, even wine! 2 recent hybrid designs of tanker carry Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) and Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG), both of which need to be kept under pressure and at low temperature to maintain the cargo in a liquified state. A further hybrid is the Floating Production, Storage and Offloading unit (FPSO), which is usually a large tanker (maybe a converted old VLCC, but now brand new specialised FPSOs are being built) specifically designed for the oil industry, working offshore where an onshore facility to process and store offshore oil is deemed impractical.

Container ships (a revolutionary idea in the past 50 years) carry their cargo in standard size containers, normally either 20 ft units (TEU) or 40 ft units (FEU), for speed of loading and discharge. A modern container ship can discharge a cargo in as many hours as it used to take in the equivilent number of days. This “brainchild” of Malcolm McLean, (a former New Jersey truck driver) found no interest among shipowners in the 1940s and 1950s, so he built his own to prove the concept. Within 10 years, the container ship revolution had started. From just a few hundred containers, modern ships can carry many thousands.

More about cargo ships from Steve’s Maritime Pages.


US Task Force One in 1961 led by the USS Enterprise.

Armored Cruiser

Amphibious Assault Ship

Aircraft Carrier, a warship primarily armed with combat aircraft.

Battlecruiser, a ship with battleship-level armament and cruiser-level armor; typically faster than a battleship because the reduction in armor allowed mounting of heavier propulsion machinery.

Battleship, a large, heavily armoured warship equipped with many powerful guns. A term which generally post-dates sailing warships, battleships are now obsolete.

Corvette, originally a small, lightly armed ship ordered by Winston Churchill, prime minister of Great Britain at the start of WW2. Corvette design was based on a commercial whale catcher, its primary attribute being ease of construction as an emergency wartime anti-submarine weapon. Its original engine was a reciprocating steam engine, original armament was one four inch gun, small arms and depth charges. Primary users of the WW2 corvette were the British Royal Navy and the Royal Canadian Navy, although corvettes saw use elsewhere.

Cruiser, a fast, independent warship. Traditionally, cruisers were the smallest warships capable of independent action. Along with battleships and battlecruisers, they have largely vanished from modern navies.

Destroyer, a fast and highly maneuverable warship, traditionally incapable of independent action. Originally developed to counter the threat of torpedo boats, they are now the largest independent warship generally seen on the ocean.

Fast Attack Craft



Heavy Cruiser

Helicopter Carrier, an aircraft carrier especially suited to helicopters and amphibious assault.



Missile Boat

Submarine, a ship capable of remaining underwater for extended periods.

Torpedo Boat, a small, fast surface vessel designed for launching torpedoes.

Patrol Boat –

Coast Guard Vessels – See Enforcement & SAR below.

More about warships from Wikipedia.

Enforcement & SAR

At 17 metres long, the Severn-class lifeboats are the largest class of UK lifeboat.

Coast Guard Vessels


More from Wikipedia – A list of boat types.
More from Wikipedia about historical ship types.

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