Top 10 Historic Ships of All Time

Ships have been an essential constituent of human history since long. The maritime history has provided us with many historic vessels from hollowed out logs to Roman Triremes, wind-driven ships to nuclear powered super carriers that has changed the course of time. Their participation in both military and civilian services has inevitably made them constituting an undiminished entirety in the history of ships but not all of these have been able to have left a lasting impact for centuries and secured a permanent place in the list of famous ships in history.


Here in this article we present you the top 10 historic ships all time.

10.  The Santa Maria

No individual can deny the fame of this tiny (about 70 feet long), slow paced, hideous Spanish Ship for its concern with Christopher Columbus and his discovery of a new world, which has earned this vessel a permanent place in the history of ships. On Christmas Day, 1492, this sturdy little historic ship was run aground and salvaged for wood which were later used for the construction of another famous ship named La Navidad.

Even though four replicas of this antique ship have been built ever since, none are the exact duplicates; hence the original configuration still remains unknown.


9. C.S.S. Hunley

Built by the Confederates in 1863, this revolutionary vessel in regards of naval engineering was designed to sink Union Navy ships and blocking Southern ports, but unfortunately sank twice in testing process, killing 13 of the crew.

On February 17, 1864, this historic ship triggered a spar torpedo on the Union sloop Housatonic and made it sink, which earned Hunley the distinction of being the first submarine to bury a ship. After a wait of 136 years on the bottom of Charleston Harbour, it is now a specially designed tank awaiting conservation since August, 2000.


8.  U.S.S. Monitor and C.S.S. Virginia (aka Merrimack)

These two old ships are famous for their hours-long battle in Hampton Roads, Virginia in March, 1862. The Union-built Monitor is considered being the first ship to have installed a rotating gun turret, which was built upon Union frigate Merrimack’s refloated hull. In May, 1862 the Virginia was blown up before surrendering while the Monitor went done in heavy seas off Cape Hatteras with 16 of crew members on the New Years Eve.

The wreck of the Monitor was found in 1973 and is now a national landmark at the Mariners’ Museum of Newport News, Virginia.


7. U.S.S. Constitution

The “Old Ironsides”, Constitution is better known for its sturdy construction and is still afloat after 213 years, today serving as a museum in Boston, Massachusetts since 1907.  The significant battles which it had fought were the First Barbary War and the War of 1812, where it had thwarted the British frigates HMS Guerriere and HMS.

It has been restored, renovated and otherwise rebuilt numerous times over the decades, and the only part remains constant is its keel. Currently this antique ship tows into the Boston Harbour once in every year for its turnaround cruise.


6. Battleship U.S.S. Missouri

Popularly known as the ‘Mighty Mo’, this is one significant name in the history of ships as surrender documents that announced the end of World War II were signed on it in Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945. After that this historic ship had participated in the Korean War, and was one of the famous ships among Ronald Reagan’s 600-ship fleet plan in 1984.

Later in 1991, it was used against Iraqi targets in Kuwait in the First Persian Gulf War for launching cruise missiles and 16-inch rounds from the massive guns. This antique ship today serves as a museum and war memorial at Pearl Harbour.


5. HMS Victory

Victory is considered to be one of the largest wooden warships ever built, to serve both the French and Spanish fleets in the last decades of the eighteenth century.

After the end of Napoleonic War, it was ordered to be slaughtered but coincidentally became a pier-side training school until lately it was restored heavily by the British government in 1922 and began serving as a museum in Portsmouth, England as one of the oldest ship still afloat  in maritime history.

4. Battleship U.S.S. Maine

This has gone into the history of ships as one of the most remembered not because of its glorious events associated but because of the trouble it had caused.

On Feb 15, 1985 while anchored in the shallow waters near Havana Harbour, it was blown by an explosion, of which the reason have never been determined, taking a huge toll of its crew members’ lives. Since then it had became a suspect of intentional act of sabotage which might have triggered a pre-placed mine and thus sparked a war between United States and Spain. Later in 1911, it remains of the ship was recovered from the harbour to clear out the passage for marine navigation.


3. German Battleship Bismarck

With a length of 823 feet and a top speed of 30 knots, this giant historic ship was undoubtedly the largest and fastest warship afloat in 1941 to have struck a terror at the heart of the British Navy.

After inflicting enough damage to the British fleet of battle ships it was sunk at the bottom of the sea. However, after it was recovered in 1989, the founding indicated that this epitome of warship in the maritime history might have been scuttled rather than sunk by the British.


2. Battleship U.S.S. Arizona

This historic ship is associated with probably the most tragic World War II consequence. On December 7, 1941, the surprise attack by the Japanese tore it apart and killed 1,177 crew members out of 1,400 including the captain and an admiral. The ignition at its forward magazine had left it burning for days.

The wreck was beyond any repair and remained there as a paradigm of war memorial, which is visited by millions of people from all over the world.


1. British Luxury Liner RMS Titanic

Undisputedly the most famous ship in maritime history to encounter the most tragic event could be this luxury cruise from the British White Star liner with a connotation to showcase mankind’s technological brilliance.

On its maiden voyage on April 10, 1912 from Southampton to New York, it had struck an iceberg five days later and sank in the North Atlantic, failing to evacuate about 1500 passengers onboard. Rediscovered 1985, this historic ship with its equally historic tale has become the inspiration of multitude of documentaries and also the backdrop to one of the most successful Hollywood flick in 1999.


You may also like to read-How the Torrey Canyon Disaster Destroyed the Marine Environment?





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  1. Kim Fairweather says

    the write-up on HMS Victory is appalling, just check Wikipedia for a more accurate account!

  2. marcosrtc says

    The Yamato was larger than the Bismarck, with an overall length of 263 metres. Although it hardly saw any action it was the largest battleship ever.
    Also missing is the USS Enterprise, which was the longest serving aircraft carrier in history.

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