Parts of a Ship – Did you know a ship owns these kinds of parts?

A ship is something like a floating city that has different parts. Actually, it is impossible to imagine a ship without its three main components: the hull, an engine room, and a navigation bridge. A ship includes both visible as well as invisible parts. Such as rudder, anchor, bow, keel, accommodation, propeller, mast, bridge, hatch covers, and bow thrusters are some common visible parts. In contrast, the invisible parts of a ship are bulkheads, frames, cargo holds, hopper tank, double bottom, girders, cofferdams, side shells etc.

In order to understand parts of a ship, one must have to go through some standard terms.

The central forward part of a ship is known as a Bow; the left-hand side is called a port, and the right side is called starboard. The front side is known as forward and the back side as astern.

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Let’s talk about ship deck

If you love to learn about ship parts, you should never miss the ship deck.

 A ship deck is a floor or covering to the ship’s hull structure. A ship can have various decks at different sections or parts of the ship, namely upper and lower deck or deck 1, deck two and deck 3 in a sequential downward way. The topmost deck exposed to the weather is called the main deck or weather deck. The levels and floors below the weather deck are called deck 1, while deck one is called deck two. On the other hand, decks or floors that do not extend from aft to forward are generally called level.

There are six main types of ship decks. 

  • Main deck
  • Poop Deck
  • Upper deck
  • Lower deck
  •  Weather deck
  • Foredeck deck (based on the position and level).

 The main deck on the ship, which runs through its entire length, is called the main deck. It is also the topmost and upper deck, but it’s a separate deck in warships below the upper deck. The deck below the upper deck is called the lower deck, while any part exposed to open weather is called the weather deck. Deck, situated on the aft side of the ship, is known as the poop deck. The deck between accommodation and forecastle has reached the foredeck.

One of many parts of the ship, a deck, is a plane that holds the hull structure and provides a different ceiling floor to the ship. The other job is to give space and a base for the equipment and people to stand and work while protecting them from the outside weather.

While not all ships have them, most help assist in cargo operation and readjustment of cargo between the voyage if necessary. They used to load and unload hoses, tools, and machinery from the ship. They operate by an electric motor installed on the deck and can lift loads to 50 tonnes. These cranes can in general see cargo ships as one of the critical parts of the ship.


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The importance of Bow of a ship

What do you mean by the bow of a ship? Just have a glance!

A bow is the front of a ship that cuts the water along its sides as the ship proceeds. The two essential requirements for a bow are minimum drag possible or so-called resistance between the water and the ship’s hull, and it must be tall enough to avoid and protect water splashing too quickly on top of it.

When considering all the different bow types tested so far in history, only a handful of them passed the test of time; a bulbous bow, Inverted bow and an Axe bow.

A bulbous bow is what you will see in most ships, including that used for commercial shipping. Its distinct bulging bulb-like shape can quickly identify it just under the waterline; it has the advantage of increasing a ship’s fuel efficiency by 10 to 15 per cent. A ship with an inverted bow design has its part of the hull and upside down. It is much more like a submarine with an extended waterline. This, on the one hand, improves its water drag while on another restricts its reserve buoyancy and speed in bad weather.

Such a bow type is generally used for ships involved in anchor handling, laying deep-sea pipes and offshore. An Axe bow type has a vertically stem line hull structure and a deep Axe structure in the foremost part of the ship. One of the ship’s parts helps improve the ship’s speed for the same power due to its design capabilities. Bows placed on the ship to reduce similar opposing forces on the ship’s body, assisting with effortless propulsion.

Why do ships have a bulbous bow?

The Bulbous bow is a jut out bulb at the bow of the vessel just below the W/L. This cuts the water and tweaks the water flow around the hull, increasing the ship’s speed, fuel efficiency and stability.12-15% of better fuel efficiency observe with the bulbous bow. The bulbous bow also helps to increase the buoyancy of the onward part of the vessel, which reduces pitching up to some extent.

The bulb-like projection at the forward end of a ship often catches a commoner’s eye regarding most ships and often below the waterline. Since it usually resembles the shape of the bulb and is always placed at the bow of the ship, it is called a Bulbous Bow.


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What is the bulbous bow for?

The bows of modern cruise ships, container ships, LNG carriers, research vessels, etc. All of them can characterize by a bulbous bow. The bulbous bow can help reduce a ship’s resistance and thus save fuel consumption up to 15%. Anyhow, it is also regarded as a threat to a struck ship in collision accidents because it may usually penetrate the side shell of the vessel, which may cause the leakage of hazardous goods. Avoiding the severe consequence of ship-to-ship collision accidents through the bulbous bow design has become a focus of ship design.

So far, many investigators have studied the behaviour of bulbous bow structures in collision accidents. 

Collision protection aims to ensure an intact cargo hold instead of a bulbous bow. So, many novel bulbous bow types concerning collision protection have also been proposed. Cheung put forward the concept design of the buffer bow. Endo et al. raised a bulbous bow design using low yield point steel to accelerate the bow bending process in oblique collision scenarios. Tautzet et al. estimated removing the longitudinal structural elements in the foremost part of the bulbous bow, which would help increase the bow’s energy absorption ability.

The purpose of the stern of a ship

The stern of a ship is located at the back end of the ship and opposite the bow.

When considering the stern of a ship, we often think about why ships have different types of aft end structures and the purpose of each one of them. While constructing and designing a ship, several factors such as hydrodynamic efficiency, construction simplicity, flow patterns and aesthetics consider  for creating a ship’s stern.

Dig into more details!

  • The stern is the aft-end structure designed to supply low resistance, high propulsion efficiency, and avoid vibrations.
  • It is the rearmost part that keeps the water out of a ship 
  • It also can shape flat, canoe-like, tapered, sharp to serve the purpose of cutting the water in its way.
  • The ship’s stern form should design to provide low resistance, and it should be able to provide high propulsion efficiency by ensuring a uniform inflow of water to the propeller.
  • The stern design must avoid vibrations.

The stern can be broadly classified as elliptical Stern, cruiser stern and transom Stern.

The topside and the underwater create the two significant parts of the stern. The above three mentioned types represent the topside.

In addition, there are numerous other unique forms. Different types of stern include raked or transom raked, transom flat, sugar scoop, lute stern and bustle stern etc., which uses on small vessels or yachts and different from the three main types. And also, these sterns can use in combination with flat transom and sugar-scoop together, also called constanzi stern, which use  in Queen Mary 2 for better efficiency and even for the flow around the stern.

Important attention should pay to the overall design of the stern to improve the flow into and away from the propeller. For many years, the cruiser stern was the favoured stern type for ocean-going ships, but today, most of these vessels have transom stern.

What does an anchor do?

An anchor is a heavy metal piece. It attaches to the chain cables, and also it is stored or secured in the hosepipe during the voyage or ship operation. An anchor can be either permanent or temporary with an additional subclass of the sea anchors.

All ships that carry anchors are of the temporary type because they are not permanently fixed to the same position and are often lowered at a different function depending upon need. It is called anchor gear with its chain cables, connecting devices, windlass, and chain stopper.

An anchor comprises five significant parts: shank, crown, stock, flute, and tripping ring. A shank is a fixed stem structure fitted with a flute by the tripping pin passing through the shank hole.

Together, these connecting structures and stack ( A crossbar that helps turn the anchor to assist flute dig into the ground ) can consider as anchor crowns. The fluke of respect is the critical part of an anchor that digs deep into the ground to hold the ship in place.

 While most ships move from a Port to a Port, many more have to wait outside for the berth. With increased shipping over time and a growing number of ships, it becomes more common to wait for the berth. So to secure them in place against natural forces such as wind and tide current, anchors are used in the ship. They act as a holding hand, connecting them to a definite position with their flute hooked deep into the sea bed, and the weight of the chain along with its resultant force keeping the ship fixed to its place.

What’s the use of the hull of a ship?

A hull helps to extend below the waterline to cover and protect water from getting in the ship. It considers it as the shell which protects the inside treasures from the outside environment. Everything stored and situated within the main ship structure is covered and protected by the ship’s hull. It includes the critical parts of the ship, such as the bow, deck, the bottom keel and both sides of the ship. They are made up of a series of plates called stakes and other structural members like plating and stiffeners.

A stiffener contains structural parts such as longitudinal and transverse frames, bulkhead stiffness, girders and beams. In comparison, ship plating consists mainly of deck plating and the bottom, bulkhead and side plating. The ship’s hull is designed to offer minimum resistance to water, is feasible and economical to construct without losing on much-needed cargo space. It can calculate and improve the overall efficiency by calculating and reducing the hull’s resistance to ship motion.

Made of steel, the key role of a ship’s hull is to maintain its watertight integrity and reduce water drag. And so, the hull plays a significant role in determining the overall efficiency of a ship.

Ships’ hulls are thus coated with special paints that reduce frictional drag and avoid marine growth, further increasing the resistance to ships motion. Therefore, ships hulls are cleaned and repainted with special coating during dry dock operation.

The function of keel of a ship

A keel is a part of a ship’s hull responsible for providing strength to the ship’s structure, and it is spreading stress and load equally along its longitudinal sides. As this property holds and supports ship structure, it is often termed the ship’s backbone. In simple terms, it provides stability to a ship and increases its effective speed. The introduction of the keel in shipping reduces much of the work regarding stabilizing ship structure.

Vikings first used it in order to reduce the lateral movement of their boats at the time. Actually, it is nothing but a thick plate that runs longitudinally across the ship from stern to stern, passing through the centerline of the ship’s bottom structure. There are three major keels used in the marine industry; flat, duct, and bar keel. Also, a flat keel is used in all significant ships in operation; and the bar keels are used when the ship works in shallow water, while duct keels are preferred for offshore vessels and double hull tankers.

Being one of the key parts of a ship, it helps stabilize and support ship structure. It also increases the effective speed of a ship. With a displacement of a ship dependent upon the depth of keel from the waterline, it is also helpful to measure draft and reserve buoyancy of ship.

The duty of a ship propeller

A propeller is a rotating fan-like structure used to propel the ship using the power generated and transmitted by the ship’s main engine. The transmitted power converts from rotational motion in order to create a thrust that imparts momentum to the water. It results in a force that acts on the ship and pushes it forward.

A ship propels based on Bernoulli’s principle and Newton’s third law. A pressure difference  creates  on the blade’s forward and aft sides, and water  accelerates behind the edges. The thrust from a propeller can transmit to move a ship through a transmission system. It contains a rotational motion generated by the main engine crankshaft, intermediate shaft and its bearings, stern tube shaft and bearing, and then finally by the propeller itself. A ship can fit with one or two and rarely three propellers. It depends upon the speed and manoeuvring requirements of the vessel.

Marine propellers are made from corrosion-resistant materials since they are made operational directly in seawater, a corrosion accelerator. The materials used for creating marine propellers are an alloy of aluminium and stainless steel.

The necessity of a ship rudder

The rudder is a flat hollow structure housed in the aft of the propeller. Ship rudder consists of rudder trunk, moveable flap, main rudder blade, hinge system, links and rudder carrier bearing. Rudders are of three types, they are balanced type, semi-balanced type and unbalanced type rudder.

As an essential part of the ship, it provides a steering gear system that controls the rudder’s movement. And also, it works on Newton’s Third Law of motion.

If the propeller is the part of the ship that propels, then the rudder is the one that makes it steer. Situated in the aft of the propeller, it is a flat hollow structure that moves from port to starboard and turns on its axis to help steer the ship. It moves in a direction producing resistance to water flow, forcing them to move to the other side. This process has much needed resultant force for the ship to turn it to the opposite side of the altered water flow.

When referring to its construction, a rudder can balance, semi-balanced and of unbalanced type. A balanced rudder has more than 20% of its part forward to its turning axis. Similarly, a semi-balanced rudder is less than 20% of its position outside or forward to its turning axis, while none is for unbalanced rudder types.

A rudder is the part of the ship that makes it steer. Newton’s third law of motion generates enough resultant force to steer a ship to the desired direction. A steering gear system controls the movement of a rudder. A rudder should have the ability to move from a 35-degree port to 35-degree starboard; the capability of steering gear should move from 35 degrees on one side to 30 degrees on another in not more than 28 seconds.

What exactly does a ship funnel do?

A funnel is from which the exhaust gases are released into the atmosphere. It is like the chimney of a ship. Since the introduction of the mechanized ship, it has been an integral part of its structure.

The cross-section or width of these funnels largely depends on the amount of exhaust engine room produced. In the early days of shipping, it was used to release everything that the ship emits, but now, it is used within the limits of controlled emission with shoot collection in place in order to reduce pollution.

All the shot collected in the shoot collection tank is then later discharged to the port authorities. If not possible, they can remove overboard via an educator recording the time and amount in the garbage record book. If you look up-close carefully, you will find that these funnels are, in fact, not that straight but inclined to an angle. This is done deliberately to assist flue gas flow away from the navigation bridge and ship’s deck.

 Being one of the parts of a ship, the process of a funnel is to safely release exhaust gas produced in the engine room to the outside atmosphere. It comes together with the forward motion of the ship and funnels inclination towards the aft, and exhaust gas is quickly moved away from the ship, avoiding possible hindrance to ship navigation.

What do you mean by aft of a ship?

Aft on a ship refers toward the direction of the stern. “Aft”, in nautical terminology, is an adjective or adverb meaning ‘towards the stern of the ship‘; when the frame of reference is within a ship, it is headed at the fore. The difference between “aft” and “stern” is, aft is the inside (onboard) rearmost part of the vessel, while stern means the outside (offboard) rearmost part of the vessel. The stern is opposite the bow, the exterior (offboard) of the front of the boat.

Accommodation of a ship

It is a place on a ship where the crew resides or lives. With offices, crew cabins, gym, prayer room, salon, recreation room, laundry, hospital, and galley, the ship’s heart is next to the engine room and bridge. A salon onboard is the common area or living space for its crew, passengers and any visiting authorities to interact; and often include a standard room and dining space. On the other hand, the galley is just a nautical term for the kitchen, where food is prepared.

Accommodation is one of the key parts of the ship, and accommodation accounts for major systems onboard, including; freshwater system, refrigeration system, garbage disposal system, sewage treatment plant and air conditioning for accommodation block.

Under the flag state’s international and local maritime laws, it needs to accommodate all vessels, including passenger ship, cargo ship, salvage ship, tug and dredger above the summer load line situated aft or aft or dredger above the summer load line situated an amidships of the ship structure.

Accommodation works as the living space of the ship. Under the maritime labour convention, it is required by law to provide adequate accommodation facilities to ship crew and officers and proper recreational facilities.

It is needed to have proper provision for safety, accommodation, health and accidents of the ship’s crew. It is required to have hospital accommodation, adequate ventilation, lighting, headspace, and heating with good crew cabins.

Go through the engine Room of a ship

An engine room in the ship is the powerhouse of the ship located in the lowest most deck aft of the ship. It contains crucial machinery like the main engine, auxiliary engine, shafting, boiler, freshwater generator, air compressor, purifier,calorifier, incinerator, pumps, heat exchangers, workshop types, etc.

If you ask a mariner about the engine room, the first thing he might tell; it’s hot, noisy and full of vibration. The average temperature of the engine room is consistently above 45 degrees centigrade.

All the machinery in the engine room is well segregated across different places on three decks: utility deck, weather deck, and machinery deck. With all kinds of propulsion and auxiliary machinery installed, it is also called the ship’s heart.

 A control room called Engine Control Room or ECR can control all the machinery in the engine. It is the only place in the engine room where you will get relief from hot temperatures and much noise.

The key role of the engine room is to hold all the key machinery and auxiliaries required for different operations onboard ships. On deck one, it usually consists of control panels for diesel generators and pumps, workshop, storeroom, settling tanks, service tanks, freshwater expansion tanks, Inert gas platform, deck air compressor, air bottles etc.

On deck two, it includes fuel oil heaters, cleaners, boilers, central air compressors, diesel generators, freshwater generators, etc. While deck three mainly consists of the main engine, different supporting coolers, oily water separators etc.

The difference of starboard and port side of a ship

The port side is the vessel’s side, which is to the left of an observer aboard the ship and facing the bow, which is, facing forward towards the vehicle’s direction when underway and the starboard are to the right of such an observer. The term port was derived from sailors mooring ships on the left side at ports to prevent the steering oar from being crushed.

Subsequently, the term “steer-board” blended into the English language and evolved into “starboard “.Starboard is the right of a ship to look forward. Where ‘left’ and ‘right’ could lead to confusion, ‘port’ and ‘starboard’ are unambiguous to a seafarer.

Besides, an emergency can occur at any time at sea, so everything aboard must be clearly identified and quickly described. 

This lingo emerged around the 16th century when the colonization of the New World boomed. In the maritime trading industry. Port and starboard were adapted from Old English.

While terms like “left” and “right” change based on the perspective, the port and starboard sides remain constant, even if your perceived orientation changes. This minimizes confusion for anyone navigating any vessel, including a cruise ship.

Do sailors poop on the Poop Deck?

Did sailors poop off the poop deck?

Sailors do not poop off on the poop deck. The deck’s purpose was for navigational and observation purposes, and there were other locations for the sailors to use as toilets. In naval architecture, a poop deck is called a deck that forms the roof of a cabin built in the rear, or “aft”, and is part of the superstructure of the ship. This name comes from the French word for stern, la poupe, from Latin puppis. At the stern, the poop deck supplies an elevated position ideal for observation.

The poop deck of a ship has no connection with a particular bodily function that you imagine. It is generally handled in the area below the ship’s bow called the head. Also, it is the roof of a cabin located in the rear (aft) section of a sailing ship’s main deck. This extends a few feet above the main deck level and is finished off with a flat roof. The flat roof of a poop cabin even works as an observation platform called the poop deck.

Officers and high-ranking sailors tend to use this area as an ideal position for observing the crew at work. It works as a roof to the cabin constructed in the aft of the ship. It also facilitates the captain and helmsman to supervise the entire working crew. But when it comes to modern ships, the poop decks are in the centre of the ship or on the starboard.

Learn about ship mast

sailing vessel

The mast of a sailing vessel is actually a tall spar/ arrangement of spars erected more or less vertically on the centre-line of the ship. The purpose of the mast is to carry sails, spars, and derricks and give necessary height to a navigation light, lookout position, signal yard, control position, radio aerial or signal lamp. Large ships have different masts, with the size and configuration depending on the style of the ship.

A mast of a ship is a rangy spar arrangement that is elevated more or less vertically to the Centreline of a ship.

It has various purposes, including carrying derricks and giving total height to the navigation light, salient yards, radio or radar aerials, and scanners.

Further, the mast is a vertical ship structure mounted on the bridge and forward the forecastle towards its bow. A mast accounts for the support platform for the ship’s derrick and holds necessary equipment such as radars, navigation lights and ships horns in case of the foremast. They are made of high tensile steel, which adds rigidity based on the size of derricks that it holds. Other than that fact, the ship’s main mast is also used to hoist the ship’s flag. Out of different parts of the ship, the main job of the mast is to hold necessary equipment like radar receivers, navigation lights, ships horn, flags and derricks in some cases.

Let us move on to the hatch of the ship.

Hatch covers of ships are made to be efficient and cost-effective. It works as an initial investment and during service, and also at the same time should suit the demands of the different types of cargo vessels.

The principal objective of hatch covers and coamings on ships is to prevent water ingress into the cargo hold and it protects the goods from being damped and damaged.

They also act as a barrier to the ship’s internal structure by enduring the green water loads in extreme weather, damaging the ship’s internal system due to corrosion.

  • Lifting type
  • Rolling type
  • Folding type
  • Sliding-type
  • Roll stowing type

Lifting type or lift away type hatch covers are usually used on container ships, whereas rolling type is used on bulk carriers. Rolling type can be categorized into end rolling, side rolling, and piggyback and telescopic.

Folding type hatch covers are used on general cargo ships. However, these may vary depending on the storage space and the type of cargo that is carried.

Here are the parts of a ship diagram!

Go through the parts of a Ship mast

A vessel with three Masts is named the fore, the main, and the mizzen masts.

Check out the main parts of a ship mast!

Mainmast-The middle and most giant mast of the three

Foremast-The furthest forward and the next inside the mainmast.

Mizzenmast-The aftermost and most miniature mast of the three

Each mast contains four pieces, one above the other, each with its distinguishing name.

The lowest pieces of each mast, or those attached to the ship, rest or step on the keelson at the bottom of a ship. 

To distinguish any particular mast, one of the principals’ names, fore, prominent, or mizzen is prefixed to its other name; thus, the masts associated with the foremast are: 

  • the fore-topmast,
  • the fore-top-gallant mast, and 
  • the fore-royal mast.

Trysail masts Small masts are placed immediately above the lower masts, to which they connect.

The bowsprit Projects out from the bows

The jib-boom Boom outside of, and supported by the bowsprit, using the heel and crupper chains

The flying jib-boom Boom outside of, and secured to the jib-boom, the heel steps against the bowsprit cap

The masts, yards, gaffs, stays, and booms are named the same as the sails which they spread; thus: 

  • The mainsail is set upon the mainmast and is distributed by the main yard. 
  • The main royal sail is placed upon the main royal mast and main royal yard. 
  • the spanker sail is set upon the spanker gaff and spanker boom. 
  • The main trysail is set upon the main trysail mast and main trysail gaff. 
  • The fore-topmast studding-sail, upon the fore-topmast studding-sail yard, and fore-topmast studding-sail boom.

More and more about the parts of the ship mast…

Many people associate masts with sailing ships. On older ships, masts used to house the ‘crow’s nest’, an area on the uppermost mast used by crew members as a lookout for any manner of shipping hazards, including pirates. As technology advanced, most large ships became steam or diesel-powered and fitted with navigational radars.

Most traditional old masts of the sailing ships were revamped to house navigational equipment, lights, and even attachment points to allow crew or goods transfer between ships.

Masts can build to rise out of a deck to transfer goods or personnel and then withdraw to keep them out of the way.

There are falling hazards associated with working off masts. There is also the concern they can emit ionizing radiation if they house navigational equipment. To mitigate these hazards, the masts are built to be up high and out of the way of the crew performing regular duties. Some radars on masts rotate, so workers must take extreme care not to trap by the equipment.

What is the mast on a ship?

A mast is also another name for the flagpole. The mast has an important job — to support the sails, which allows the wind to propel the ship. Other types of masts are used to support flags and are called flagpoles. A full-rigged ship or a fully rigged ship is a sailing ship’s sail plan with three or more masts, and all of them square-rigged. A full-rigged ship has a ship rig or is ship-rigged. Such ships also have each mast in three segments: lower mast, topmast, and topgallant mast.

The size of masts naturally varies very much. In a 110-gun ship of 2164 tons, the proportions of the mainmast were: for the lower mast, length 117 ft., diameter three ft. three in.; topmast, 70 ft., and 203/4 in.; topgallant mast, 35 ft., and 113/4 in., 222 ft. in all.

Foremast – The front mast on a ship or any other sailing vessel. Mainmast – The middle, primary mast on a ship or any other sailing vessel. Mizzenmast – The aftermost mast on a ship or any other sailing vessel.

Figure out the parts of a ship labelled.

These are the different parts of a ship

Details on parts of a ship anchor

Modern commercial sea anchors are generally made of cloth, shaped like a parachute or cone, and rigged so that the wider end leads and the narrower end trails. When deployed, this type of sea anchor floats under the surface, and the water moving past the sea anchor keeps it filled.

See also>>>A Complete Guide On Ship Anchor Around The World!

Anchor is a device; it is usually of metal attached to a ship by a ship in a particular place utilizing a fluke or pointed projection that digs into the sea bottom. 

Frequently Asked Questions!

What are the different parts of a ship? Don’t hesitate to read!

Scroll down! Here are the different parts of a ship. 

Bow – 

Bow is the front of the ship. A ship has a bulbous bow, a term for the shape of the bow with a protruding part that helps with the ship’s hydrodynamics.

Stern  The back of the ship

Accommodation – (or superstructure) This is where the crew live and operate the ship.

Hull – The hull is a part of the ship that is partly in the water. The cargo keeps in holds in the hull.

Freeboard – Freeboard is the part of the hull that is above the water. Freeboarding is usually given in metres. The more cargo the ship carries, the less will be her freeboard. 

Draught – Draught is the part of the hull that is below the water. Draught is usually given in metres. The more cargo the ship is carrying and the greater will be the draught. 

Afterdeck – Afterdeck is the deck aft (on the stern side) of the accommodation.

Foredeck – Foredeck is the deck of a ship from the accommodation to the forecastle.

Forecastle – (pronounced fowksil and often spelt fo’c’sle) A raised part of the foredeck near the bow

Keel – The bottom of the ship

What are parts of a ship called?| Go through the list!

The forward of a ship is just the same as it sounds: It’s the most forward side facing the bow at the front of a cruise ship. At the direction of a ship’s stern, the rear of a ship is called the aft.

The keel is the bottom-most longitudinal structural element on a vessel.

The keel in the central or middle area of a ship is called an amidships. The right centre side is the starboard beam, and the left-centre side is the port beam. The stern is the rear of the ship. When you move in that particular direction, and you are going aft. When a ship moves in that direction, it is moving astern.

While common visible parts of a ship include rudder, anchor, bow, keel, accommodation, propeller, mast, bridge, hatch covers, and bow thrusters, on the other hand, invisible however structural part of the ship contains of; bulkheads, frames, cargo holds, hopper tank, double bottom, girders, cofferdams and side shell, etc.

What do you call the front part of a ship?

Bow: Front of a ship. Stern: Rear of a ship. Starboard: Right side of a ship.

There are two main parts of a site hull and the machinery. The hull is the ship’s real shell, including her superstructure, Page 3 3 The machinery includes the main engines required to drive her and the auxiliary machinery (boilers, generators, etc.)

What are the five primary parts of a ship? You will find more than you imagine!


The anchor of the ship is made out of metal and attached to the ship by heavy chains. It is used to keep the vessel in place while waiting to dock.


The bow of the ship allows it to cut through the water. It needs to be tall enough to avoid easy contact with the water to work correctly. It must also supply the least amount of drag possible to avoid slowing the ship.


A bridge of a ship allows navigators to safely and effectively view the ocean and conduct manoeuvres. It contains communication equipment and controls for the ship’s speed and direction.


The deck helps hold the hull together by obtaining structural support and creating floors and ceilings. It allows room for people and equipment to enable them to work while being protected.

Engine Room

The engine room contains everything that allows the ship to function normally. Depending on the size of the ship, this includes the engine, storeroom, heaters, generators, pumps and more.

What are the elements of a ship? | A complete overview


From ancient times, figureheads were common to place a decoration at the ship’s bow to identify her from a distance. It is commonly believed that the figurehead would please the sea gods and assure a safe passage. 

Another common belief was that a ship was a living being and therefore in need of a head and especially eyes, a typical decoration on ships sailing the Mediterranean sea. Even nowadays, have eyes painted on the bow in the Mediterranean. The eyes also appear on the Dragon Boats that are raced in China and other Asian countries.

Viking ships frequently had dragons or other animal heads mounted on the bows of their ships to supply them with a fearsome aspect and aid in the identification of a ship. Egyptian ships frequently had carved birds, and the Phoenicians used horse heads to invoke swiftness. The militaristic Romans usually had a carved centurion at the bows of their military ships. Swans were famous for merchant’s ships. These mentioned carved images are the origin of the figureheads which decorated later ships around the world.

During the late 18th century, it became a fashionable trend to have a figurehead related to the ship’s name mounted on the bow. Many were quite elaborate, and figureheads enjoyed their heyday as works of art for the next century.

However, they could represent men, mythical figures or animals, and most were carvings of females, frequently bare-breasted. Anyhow, when wives and daughters of New England captains and ship owners modelled for figureheads, they compromised by wearing low-cut dresses. In 1974, the figurehead was from the bark Edinburgh featured on a United States international postcard stamp.


Flags recognize ships and pass messages from one ship to another. National flags are able to identify a ship’s country of origin. International code flags deliver messages.

Semaphore flags, handled by a crew member, pass messages over short distances.

Each flag, or a combination of flags, has various purposes. A flag may represent a single alphabetic character or number or may have a more complex sense. For instance, the yellow flag used for the letter “Q” also indicates the ship is in quarantine when flown alone. The “P” flag is flown alone, which suggests a ship is preparing to leave port. A flag on one mast is something different from the same flag on a separate mast on sailing ships. 

Naval ships often handled a string of flags (a hoist) to identify themselves. Gave each ship a “serial number” published in a list circulated to countries’ naval ships, friendly ships displaying “243” might thus be known as to ship and captain by its compatriots.


The earliest shipbuilders made their ships of reed bundles or hollowed-out tree trunks. When they added individual planks to the sides of a dug-out log, they made the first clinker-built (overlapped strips) hull.

The Vikings’ ships were clinker-built (made of overlapped wooden planks). Moss or wool tucked into the joints made the hulls more or less watertight.

On the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean, the ships were carvel-built with planks fitted edge to edge and sealed with pitch or other caulking materials.

Builders put decking over the hull to allow for more cargo, then added raised platforms. During the 13th century, the media had crenellated walls and looked like miniature castles.

Fore-castles (fo’c’sle) acted as raised fortresses. The after castles, which became integrated into the hull structure, were appropriate for officers’ cabins. The later castle ultimately elongated and became cabin space and the quarterdeck.


The earliest watercraft utilized oars or paddles for propulsion and steering. As ships became more significant, to move the ship against the wind or for speed under combat conditions used large numbers of rowers. The rowers were slaves or prisoners during most instances, although Viking raiding ships were often rowed by the raiders themselves. 

The larger oared ships are genetically identified as galleys. They were usually equipped with sails for use over long distances or rest periods for the rowers. Some nations used galleys as gunboats for coastal and harbour defence until the introduction of the steam engine.

Merchant ships, which had to operate at a profit, were usually sailed to minimize crew expenses and allow maximum hull space for cargo. However, some were equipped with a small number of oars for harbour manoeuvres. Most large oar-propelled ships were warships or royal pleasure craft: the state supplied the rowers and covered expenses.

Oars and paddles are still used nowadays with small boats, canoes, and rafts. 


Sailing ships in the world have two types of rigging as,

Standing rigging includes the lines, wires, and chains that support the masts and the yards which carry sails. Running rigging is used to hoist, lower or trim the sails. Sailors use several types of lines on a ship, from thin twines and yarns to thick hawsers.


Oars or sails moved ships until the introduction of the steam engine. Square sails hang from the yards at right angles to the mast. They drive the ship forward efficiently when the wind comes from behind the ship.

Fore-and-aft sails are set parallel to the ship’s long axis with the leading edge attached to a mast or stay. They are more efficient and effective than square sails when the ship sails close to the wind.

Ancient Egyptian, Roman and Viking ships used square sails set on short masts. Sailors soon discovered that they could sail a vessel upwind to a degree by setting the sails at an angle.

Sometime in the 15th century, to create the full-rigged ship used the square and the fore-and-aft sails. It was more manoeuvrable, safer and easier to manage than a ship with a single type of sail.

Sail-makers have decorated sails since the earliest days of navigation. During ancient Egypt, they had a checkered pattern of colours: red, purple, blue and white. Cleopatra ordered a purple sail embroidered with flowers. The Viking sails frequently had diagonal stripes.

the Middle Ages, sails carried the coats-of-arms of the knights who sailed on the ships. By the middle of the 16th-century elaborate religious designs took their place.

Steering: Tiller, whipstaff and wheel

The smallest watercraft were steered by moving paddles or oars appropriately. In ancient times, ships were guided with a steering oar and a long oar attached to the stern of a ship. On larger ships, there may have been two steering oars, one on each side. Small boats are steered with a tiller and a horizontal bar connected to the top of the rudder shaft of the ship. The whipstaff migrated this concept to larger watercraft.

This bar is vertical and is connected to the rudder by a mechanical linkage. During the 17th century, whipstaff was used. Harold H. Patton built this kit and showed how it worked. Ships needed higher stern decks to use this steering device. It could turn the rudder about 5º from the centre in either direction.

The steering wheel used on more recent ships uses ropes and pulleys to transfer the wheel’s motion to the ship’s rudder. If the rudder is large and the sea is rough, it takes much more effort to control the wheel and maintain the ship on course. With the steering station shown, therefore, four men can work together in rough seas. This arrangement supplied much better control of the ship because it could move the rudder through a more extensive range of motion and use a larger rudder.

more about Steering: Tiller, whipstaff and wheel …

Modern ships use unique engines to move the rudder, and some large ships may have multiple rudders in response to wheel motions; and also, the wheel locate on an enclosed bridge where it is not expose to waves and weather. Originally the rudder engines were steam-driven, but modern practice uses electric motors or hydraulic mechanisms to position the rudder.

Some contemporary ships do have auxiliary steering systems for use at low speeds in which water jets are used to swing the bow or stern or even move the entire ship sideways. These can turn the ship in its length and are extremely useful for docking or manoeuvres in close quarters.

Gun station

During the 18th – 19th century, a standard gun station, This typical gun station shows essential tools and working lines. It is mounted on a carriage, which helps position the gun and absorb recoil when fired. Guns of this type were muzzleloaders. 

The broadside mounted guns of this type were awkward to target as the carriages were quite hard to shift. Vertical elevation was somewhat easier but relatively crude. Before introducing elevating screws, wood wedges (quoins) were positioned under the rear of the barrel to control height and range. Broadside mounted guns were replaced by turret-mounted firearms, which were more effective because they were easier to aim and didn’t need moving the entire ship to obtain a wide arc of fire. 


The first steamship with much more practical value was the paddle steamer, Clermont. In 1807 Robert Fulton built her and sailed her up the Hudson River. In 1819 the Savannah was the first steamship to cross the Atlantic. It was a fully-rigged ship that also had a 90-horsepower engine that drove wheel shafts. The paddle wheels were sixteen feet in diameter and fitted with chains so that the wheels could fold up when the ships’ sails were in use. Also, according to the logbook, the steam engine served for 18 days and the sails for five. The engine burned coal and wood. 

The screw propeller replaced the paddlewheel, and the steamship replaced the sailing ship by the late 1850s.

Team turbine-driven engines were introduced for warships by the early 20th century.

To sum up

Since ancient times, people have used ships for transportation, exploration, war and many other purposes. European seafarers, the famous Juan Sebastian Elcano was the first sailor to sail worldwide, and pioneered the revolutionary watercraft. The parts of a ship were much more different, and anyhow they could still serve their purpose. Centuries later, ships of several shapes and sizes still play a significant role in our society.

A ship won’t be without its three major components: the hull, the engine room, and the navigation bridge. When it comes to ships, rudders, anchors, bows, keels, propellers, masts, bridges, hatch covers, and bow thrusters are more prominent components, while bulkheads and keels are less visible.

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