25 Parts Of A Ship Explained [PDF]

Hello everyone, In this article we are going to explore the Parts of a Ship. At the very end, we have also shared a PDF for everyone. Make sure to read till the end.

What are the parts of a ship?

A ship is like a floating city with different sections. But, we can’t think of a ship without its three main parts: the Hull, an engine room, and a navigation bridge.

A ship has both visible and invisible parts. For example, the rudder, anchor, bow, keel, accommodation, propeller, mast, bridge, hatch covers, and bow thrusters are visible parts. On the other hand, bulkheads, frames, cargo holds, hopper tanks, double bottoms, girders, cofferdams, and side shells are invisible parts.

Parts of a ship
parts of a ship diagram
what are the parts of a ship

These are the parts of a ship!

#1. Bow

The ship’s bow, the front part moving through the water, has two essential needs: reducing drag and ensuring enough height to prevent splashing. Bows enhance ship propulsion manageability.

Ship Bow has three types:

Ship Bow
Cargo Ship Bow
  • Bulbous Bow:
    • Common on many cargo ships, recognized by a bulbous projection below the water’s surface.
  • Axe Bow:
    • Characterized by a vertical stem line and an axe-like front, increasing ship speed.
  • Inverted Bow:
    • Features an upside-down bow and hull section, akin to a submarine’s construction.

#2. Anchor

An anchor is a large metal piece attached to chain cables and stored in a hose pipe during a ship’s journey. It can be permanent or temporary, including a subclass of sea anchors.

The anchor has three essential parts:

ship anchors
  • Shank:
    • The stem’s structure is secured to the flute by a tripping pin, forming the anchor’s crowns.
  • Stack :
    • A crossbar aids anchor rotation for the fluke to penetrate the ground.
  • Fluke:
    • The anchor part extends into the water to keep the ship afloat.

Anchors secure ships by embedding their flukes deep into the seabed, using the combined weight of the chain and generated force to keep the ship anchored. Made of metal, a ship’s anchor, weighing up to 7 tons with a chain length of around 600 meters, prevents drifting. It can be temporary or permanent, with permanent anchors creating moorings that stay in one place, necessitating specialized services for relocation. Ships are equipped with one or more temporary anchors, varying in design and weight.

#3. Deck

A ship’s deck is its hull covering, featuring sections like upper, lower, or numbered decks. The main deck, exposed to the weather, runs the full ship length. Decks are horizontal planes supporting the hull, akin to floors. Depending on the ship type, the main deck may be divided.

Additional ship decks include upper, lower, promenade, flush, weather, bridge, quarter, and poop decks. The upper deck is usually atop the hull, and the promenade deck is for passenger relaxation.

Ship deck
cruise ship deck

Distinct decks serve the following purposes.

  • The flush deck is forward, the bridge deck houses navigation equipment, and the weather deck lacks a roof.
  • The poop deck is at the ship’s tail, and the quarter deck is raised behind the main mast.
  • On a cruise ship, the Lido deck offers outdoor fun with a water slide, hot tubs, sports, and a buffet. “Lido” means beach in Italian.
  • The promenade deck on passenger ships provides a continuous walkway.
  • Warships have flight decks as runways for warplanes, while smaller naval ships have flight decks for helicopters and aircraft.
  • The sundeck on cruise ships is where passengers relax in the sun.
  • Other ship decks include berth, boat, gun, hangar, and weather decks.

#4. Accommodation

The accommodation on a ship is where the crew and passengers live. It includes offices, a fitness center, crew quarters, a hospital, a salon, entertainment areas, common rooms, a laundry room, and a kitchen.

Ship accommodation
cargo ship accommodation
transporter ship accommodation

This vital part of the ship comprises amenities like the domestic refrigeration system, sewage treatment plant, freshwater system, and waste disposal system. It is also responsible for air conditioning in the accommodation block. Essentially, the ship’s accommodation is crucial, offering a place for passengers to relax, medical facilities, and food courts.

#5. Hull

The ship’s hull, below the waterline, shields the vessel from water and protects its contents from the outside elements. Comprising interconnected plates called stakes, the hull incorporates structural components such as longitudinal and transverse frames, bulkheads, girders, and beams. Deck plating, bottom, bulkhead, and side plating constitute the ship’s plating.

The design of the ship’s hull aims to minimize water resistance, ensure cost-effective construction, and optimize cargo space. Calculating and minimizing resistance improves the ship’s overall efficiency.

Ship Hull
Cargo ship hull
Ship hull diagram

The ship’s hull, the most vital and visible part, ensures watertightness to safeguard cargo and machinery. The hull’s shape influences the ship’s capabilities, with planing hulls riding on top of the water and displacement hulls traveling through it.

Displacement hulls move slowly but offer stability and can carry substantial loads, featuring round bottoms with a low, central ballast. Powerboats and watercraft often utilize planing hulls, which ride on the water’s surface at higher speeds. Various hull types are designed based on factors like ship shape, speed, load capacity, and stability. The hull stands out as the most significant structural element of a ship.

#6. Bridge

The bridge on a ship is like the brain, commanding and navigating the vessel. It’s a large platform atop the living quarters, and the primary section is the pilot house. It must allow clear vision from 1200 port to 1200 starboard, following maritime norms. Similar to an airplane’s cockpit or a car’s driver seat, the ship’s bridge is where it’s controlled.

Ship bridge
ship bridge diagram

An officer of the watch is stationed there at sea, often with a lookout seaman. During critical maneuvers, the captain, an officer of the watch, an experienced seaman at the wheel, and sometimes a pilot are on the bridge. Typically located near the bow, the ship’s bridge is where the captain and officers navigate and manage the vessel. However, some cargo ships place the bridge near the aft.

#7. Rudders

A ship’s rudder is its steering wheel, guiding the vessel in the desired direction. Installed at the back for hydrodynamic efficiency, the rudder collaborates with propellers—propelling the ship forward while the rudder ensures the right course.

Ship rudders
types of ship rudders

The rudder comprises components like the rudder trunk, movable flap, main rudder blade, hinge system, links, and rudder carrier bearing. It comes in three types: balanced, semi-balanced, and unbalanced, equipped with a steering gear system following Newton’s third law of motion.

Types of rudders include the following

  • Balanced Rudder:
    • It is attached to the rudder stock at the top. The position of the rudder stock determines balance. In balanced rudders, like spade rudders, the stock is positioned with 40% in front and 60% behind.
  • Unbalanced Rudder:
    • Stocks fastened at the most forward point. Rudder stock runs along the chord length. Greater torque is required, less commonly used nowadays.

#8. Propeller

A ship’s propeller is a mechanical device with blades on a central shaft. These blades rotate, converting rotational energy into pressure energy, producing the thrust needed for propulsion. The propeller pushes seawater backward, propelling the ship forward. The engine, shaft, and propeller together form the propulsion unit.

Ship propeller
propeller fan
ship propeller diagram

Propellers are typically made of corrosion-resistant alloys like aluminum, bronze, or manganese. A ship may have one, two, or three propellers. This crucial part of the ship, following Newton’s third law of motion and Bernoulli’s theorem, is indispensable for propulsion. The propeller’s primary function is to propel the ship forward by generating thrust on water.

#9. Side Thrusters

Side thrusters on a ship, placed at the front or back, make it more maneuverable. With sideways-pointing propellers, they push the ship sideways through the water. Using the front (bow thruster) turns the ship while using both allows sideways movement. Bow thrusters are at the front, and stern thrusters are at the back.

Ship side thrusters
ship side thruster diagram

These thrusters are useful in crowded waters, near ports, or canals, aiding maneuverability at slow speeds. Also called tunnel thrusters, they impact a ship’s running cost and can be powered hydraulically or electrically.

#10. Keel

The keel of a ship is like a person’s spinal cord, supporting the watercraft’s weight, similar to how the spine maintains the body’s backbone. It’s the primary longitudinal component, connecting all major structural parts of the ship.

Ship keel
ship keel diagram 
ship keel calculations

Positioned at the hull’s centerline bottom, the keel is crucial, often the first part constructed. While large modern ships may use prefabricated hull sections, the keel’s role in keeping the boat upright is vital, preventing it from tilting in the wind.

#11. Stern

The stern is the ship’s rear, opposite the front or bow. It’s constructed over a structural beam, the sternpost, ensuring a steady flow of water to the ship’s propellers. Engine rooms are often located in the stern of many ships, while smaller vessels may house propulsion systems, such as outboard motors extending into the water.

Ship stern
ship rear 
stern diagram

The stern’s role varies by vessel type; cruise ships may feature a dining area at the stern for a clear ocean view. In older sailing ships, the captain’s quarters were at the stern, and modern vessels often display the vessel’s name there.

#12. Engine Room

The engine room serves as the powerhouse of the ship, located on the lowest deck at the rear. It houses vital machinery, including the main engine, auxiliary engine (Alternator), shafting, boiler, freshwater generator, air compressor, calorifier, purifier, incinerator, pumps, heat exchangers, workshop machinery, and more.

Ship engine room
engine room controls

Its main role is to accommodate the necessary machinery and auxiliary equipment for various shipboard activities. On the first deck, you’ll find control panels for diesel generators and pumps, a workshop, storage area, settling tanks, service tanks, freshwater expansion tanks, an Inert gas platform, a deck air compressor, and air bottles.

Moving up to the second deck, there are fuel oil heaters, purifiers, boilers, the main air compressor, diesel generators, and a freshwater generator. Deck 3 is mainly dedicated to the ship’s main engine, along with supporting coolers, oily water separators, and other equipment.

#13. Ships Funnel

The ship’s funnel, like a chimney, releases exhaust gases into the air. It’s been a crucial part of the ship’s design since the early days of powered ships.

Ship Funnel
types of ship funnel

As a key component, the funnel safely vents engine room exhaust gas into the air. As the ship moves forward and the funnel leans towards the back, it efficiently directs the exhaust gas away from the ship, avoiding any potential navigation issues.

#14. Freeboards

Freeboard is the part of a ship’s hull above the waterline. It’s the space between the ship’s upper deck and the water’s surface. The amount of cargo on board determines the ship’s freeboard, and it can vary.

Ship Freeboard
Ship freeboard diagram

The purpose of the freeboard is to maintain stability and prevent the ship from sinking between its sections. According to the ICLL 1996 (International Convention on Load Line), ship hulls are marked with load lines such as Tropical Freshwater, Freshwater, Tropical, Summer, Winter, and Winter North Atlantic. These markings ensure that the ship always has enough freeboard for safe navigation.

#15. Emergency Generator Room

The emergency generator room provides electricity for emergency needs when the main power source stops working. It’s a small, independent generator designed for critical situations.

Emergency Generator Room
ship Emergency Generator Room

Located on the top deck, it is positioned away from the main and backup equipment and the crash bulkhead. The room has its own switchboard. The generator is designed to be user-friendly and can be started even at 0°C.

#16. Bow Thrusters

Bow thrusters are like propellers on the sides of a ship’s front. They help the ship turn better, especially in busy places like canals or near ports when it’s going slow. To steer a ship, we usually use the engine and turn a part called the rudder. The rudder is behind the propeller and guides the ship left or right.

Ship Bow thrusters
Cargo Ship Bow thrusters

When we change the rudder angle, the ship goes the way we want. But if the ship is going really slow, the rudder might not work well. That’s when we use bow thrusters. They’re like extra help for the captain to move the ship, especially when it’s going slowly.

#17. Hatch Covers

Hatch covers on ships close the openings called hatches to keep water out. They need to be watertight and strong to withstand the force of waves.

Ship hatch cover
cargo ship hatch cover

Hatch covers can also handle a lot of weight on the deck if needed. Smaller ships usually deal with splashing water and rain, so they use lighter hatch designs, especially on boats for inland navigation.

#18. Mast

A vertical structure on a ship, the mast is positioned above the bridge and in front of the forecastle toward the ship’s bow. It serves as a platform for the ship’s derrick and holds vital equipment like radars, navigation lights, and the ship’s horn if it’s a foremast. Constructed of high-tensile steel with additional stiffness based on the size of the derricks it supports, the ship’s main mast is also utilized for hoisting the flag.

Ship mast 
ship mast diagram
warship mast

In contrast to other ship components, the mast’s primary function is to host essential equipment such as the radar receiver, navigation lights, ship’s horn, flags, and sometimes derricks.

#19. Forecastle

The forecastle is the front part of a ship, located at the very front of the upper deck. It doesn’t go beyond 7 percent of the total deck length. On a ship’s structure, you can easily spot it by a sudden rise in the foredeck near the bow.

Ship Forecastle
Cargo ship Forecastle

Being a crucial part of a ship’s structure, the forecastle, or the leading edge of the foredeck, holds all the equipment needed for anchoring operations. Besides carrying anchoring gear and equipment, the forecastle on naval vessels also houses important defense cannons.

#20. Deck Crane

Many ships have deck cranes to help with cargo operations and move cargo as needed. These cranes also load and unload pipes, equipment, and machinery from ships.

Ship deck crane
ship crane
cargo ship crane

Installed on the deck and powered by an electric motor (sometimes hydraulically), these cranes can lift up to 50 tons. On cargo ships, in particular, these cranes are clearly among the most crucial components.

#21. Bulk Heads

Bulkheads are walls or barriers inside the ship’s hull that divide the space. They add to the ship’s structural strength and act as dividers between different areas. Importantly, they help reduce the amount of seawater that might leak or seep in if there’s damage. Bulkheads can be either flat or wavy in shape.

Ship Bulk Heads
cargo ship bulk head

#22. Cargo Hold

The cargo hold on a ship is designed for transporting goods, providing an enclosed space beneath the deck to store freight containers. This crucial compartment ensures the safety of the cargo until it reaches its destination.

Ship cargo hold
ship cargo capacity
cargo ship storage

To illustrate, a 700-foot cargo ship has the capability to transport around 1,000 40-foot containers, equivalent to a staggering 20,000 tons of merchandise.

#23. Ballast tank

A ballast tank, a feature added during aquatic equipment construction, serves to fine-tune balance by adjusting water weight. In shipbuilding, it’s common for these tanks to be filled or emptied as needed.

ships ballast tank
what is ballast tank

These tanks often contain the largest area of structural steel on a vessel, and the water inside can be corrosive if not monitored. To prevent damage, ships usually apply a special coating to the tanks. Cleaning ballast tanks is a complex and time-consuming task, that affects sailors’ productivity at sea. However, coating the ballast makes cleaning smoother and more efficient.

#24. Double Bottom

A ship’s double bottom runs from the forepeak to the after-peak tank, significantly boosting safety in the event of severe bottom damage from grounding, potentially causing engine room flooding. This double bottom, divided into several tanks, is well-suited for transporting liquids like ballast water, fuel oil, and potable water.

Ships double bottom
Cargo ship double bottom diagram

The outer layer of the double bottom is the standard ship structure, and the inner layer acts as an additional water barrier. Between these layers, there’s a hollow space commonly used for storing water ballast.

#25. Paint Room

The paint room is where the ship keeps its paint, thinners, and other painting materials. This room has lights that are explosion-proof and can withstand chemical gas vapors. Ships are typically repainted every five years. The paint room is well-lit with accurate colors to make sure the right paint colors are chosen.


I hope you are now clear on all the different Parts of a Ship. I have also mentioned their location and the purpose they serve. If you have any queries feel free to reach out to us via email or in the comments. make sure to check out other articles on the website too.

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