Top 10 Historic Ships of All Time

Ships have been an essential constituent of human history for a long. Maritime history has provided us with many historic vessels, from hollowed-out logs to Roman Triremes, wind-driven ships to nuclear-powered supercarriers that have changed the course of time.

Their participation in both military and civilian services has inevitably made them constitute an undiminished entirety in the history of ships. Still, 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.

historic ships
Representation image

Here in this article, we present you with the top 10 historic ships.

10.  The La Santa María or La Gallega

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 was later used to construct 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 remains unknown.

9. C.S.S. Hunley

Built by the Confederates in 1863, this revolutionary vessel, in regards to naval engineering, was designed to sink Union Navy ships and block Southern ports but unfortunately sank twice in the 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 the first ship to have installed a rotating gun turret, which was built upon the Union frigate Merrimack’s refloated hull. In May 1862, Virginia was blown up before surrendering while the Monitor went done in heavy seas off Cape Hatteras with 16 crew members on New Year’s 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 it fought were the First Barbary War and the War of 1812, where it 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 that remains constant is its keel. Currently, this antique ship tows into the Boston Harbour once 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 participated in the Korean War and was one of the famous ships in 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 the 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 ships 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 the glorious events associated but because of the trouble they 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 has never been determined, taking a huge toll on its crew members’ lives. Since then, it had become a suspect of an intentional act of sabotage which might have triggered a pre-placed mine and thus sparked a war between the United States and Spain. Later in 1911, the ship’s remains were recovered from the harbour to clear 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 battleships, it was sunk at the bottom of the sea. However, after it was recovered in 1989, the founding indicated that this epitome of a warship in 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 a 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 Starliner with a connotation to showcase mankind’s technological brilliance.

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

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11 Comments

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

  2. 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.

  3. In regards to USS Maine, its was later proved that interal gunpower stores magazine sank her not the spanish govermemt. Also its wasnt in 1985.

  4. The photograph for the USS Maine is not the battleship Maine destroyed in Havana harbor 15 February 1898. The battleship In the photo has three funnels, four fighting tops and turrets on the centerline of the vessel. The famous USS Maine (ACR-1) did not.

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