List of Historical Ship Types

This is a list of historical ship types, which includes any classification of ship that has ever been used.

Barque
A sailing vessel with three or more masts, fore-and-aft rigged on only the aftermost.
Barquentine
A sailing vessel with three or more masts, square-rigged only on the foremast.
Battlecruiser
A lightly armoured battleship.
Battleship
A large, heavily armoured and heavily gunned warship. A term which generally post-dates sailing warships.
Bilander
Bireme
An ancient vessel, propelled by two banks of oars.
Birlinn
Blockade runner
A ship whose current business is to slip past a blockade.
Boita
A cargo vessel used for trade between Eastern India and Indochina.
Brig
A two-masted, square-rigged vessel.
Brigantine
A two-masted vessel, square-rigged on the foremast and fore-and-aft rigged on the main.
Caravel
A much smaller, two, sometimes three-masted ship.
Carrack
Cartel
A small boat used to negotiate between enemies.
Catboat
A sailing vessel characterized by a single mast carried well forward (i.e., near the bow of the boat).
Clipper
A fast multiple-masted sailing ship, generally used by merchants because of their speed capabilities.
Cog
Collier
A vessel designed for the coal trade.
Corvette
A small, maneuverable, lightly armed warship, originally smaller than a frigate.
Cruiser
A warship that is larger than a destroyer, but smaller than a battleship.
Destroyer
A warship mainly used for anti-submarine warfare and escort duties.
Dreadnought
An early twentieth century type of battleship.
Dromons
Precursors to galleys.
East Indiaman
An armed merchantman belonging to one of the East India companies (Dutch, British etc.)
Fire ship
A vessel of any sort, set on fire and sent into an anchorage with the aim of causing consternation and destruction. The idea is generally that of forcing an enemy fleet to put to sea in a confused, therefore vulnerable state.
Fleut
A Dutch-made vessel from the Golden Age of Sail. It had multiple decks and usually three square-rigged masts. It was usually used for merchant purposes.
Frigate
A term used for warships of many sizes and roles over the past few centuries.
Galleass
A sailing and rowing warship, equally well suited to sailing and rowing.
Galleon
A sixteenth century sailing warship.
Galley
A warship propelled by oars with a sail for use in a favourable wind.
Galliot
Ironclad
A wooden warship with external iron plating.
Junk
A Chinese sailing ship
Knarr
A type of Viking trade ship
Liberty ship
An American merchant ship of the late Second World War period, designed for rapid building in large numbers. (The earliest class of welded ships.)
Longship
A Viking raiding ship
Man-of-war
A sailing warship.
Mistico
Small, fast two or three-masted Mediterranean sailing vessel.
Monitor
A small, very heavily gunned warship with shallow draft. Designed for coastal operations.
Paddle steamer
A steam-propelled, paddle-driven vessel, a name commonly applied to nineteenth century excursion steamers.
Pantserschip
A Dutch ironclad. By the end of the nineteenth century, the name was applied to a heavy gunboat designed for colonial service.
Penteconter
An ancient warship propelled by 50 oars, 25 on each side.
Pink (or Pinque)
One of two different types of boats.
Pram
A small dinghy, originally of a clinker construction and called in English, as in Danish, a praam. The Danish orthography has changed so that it would now be a prĂ¥m in its original language. It has a transom at both ends, the forward one usually small and steeply raked in the traditional design.
Pre-dreadnought
A type of battleship of the late 19th century to early 20th century, characterized by having a mixed offensive battery, in contrast to the "all-big-gun" Dreadnought type battleships.
Q-ship
A commerce raider camouflaged as a merchant vessel.
Quinquereme
An ancient warship propelled by three banks of oars. On the upper row three rowers hold one oar, on the middle row - two rowers, and on the lower row - one man to an oar.
Schooner
A fore and aft-rigged vessel with two or more masts of which the foremast is shorter than the main.
Settee
Single-decked, single or double-masted Mediterranean cargo vessel carrying a settee sail.
Shallop
A large, heavily built, sixteenth-century boat. Fore-and-aft rigged. More recently it has been a poetically frail open boat.
Ship of the line
A sailing warship of first, second or third rate. That is, with 64 or more guns. Before the late eighteenth century, fourth rates (50-60 guns) also served in the line of battle.
Slave ship
A cargo boat specially converted to transport slaves.
Small Waterplane Area Twin Hull (SWATH)
A modern ship design used for Research Vessels and other purposes needing a steady ship in rough seas.
Steamship
A ship propelled by a steam engine.
Torpedo boat
A small, fast surface vessel designed for launching torpedoes.
Trabaccolo
A type of Mediterranean sailing coastal vessel.
Tramp steamer
A steamer which takes on cargo when and where it can find it.
Trireme
An ancient warship propelled by three banks of oars.
Victory ship
Xebec

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