Ship vs Boat


Lantern Swinger
Can anyone tell me what the official difference is between a ship and a boat?!
Was asked by someone at the weekend, and I was completely stumped!
Rumours are that it had something to do with the number of lifeboats on board, OR the way the craft leaned when it was turning!


Lantern Swinger
Not 100% but I do believe it's associated with the turning which is the main difference between the two, something along the lines of a ship turning out then back into itself where a boat doesn't.

...I think.
In olden days, a vessel had to be a square-rigged craft with at least three masts to make it a ship. Nowadays, as SPB says, ships can carry boats but boats can't carry ships. Submarines have always been known as boats and there are heavy lift vessels that can carry ships but these are rare exceptions to the rule.


Lantern Swinger
Nowadays anything commissioned is a ship, except a submarine. In WWII, however, patrol boats, MTBs, MGBs etc. were HMMTB etc.

Don't know what the Merchant Navy do.
“Give me a Boat and a bucketâ€.

In other words, if you needed a bucket you were on a Boat and, if you didn’t, you were on a ship.

I first heard the phrase in the 50’s, and I think that it referred to seasickness on Mine Sweepers and small craft.

I always thought that a "boat" had one main deck, whereas a "ship" had two or more main decks.
As REAL submarines (T's, A's, P and O's) had only one main deck, unlike these submersible battlecruisers that we now have, "boat" is the correct and applicable term.
This of course is quite different to the argument that there are only two types of seagoing vessels - submarines and targets!
Flood Q - 600 feet - standby depth charges!
Sure I have read somewhere recently that a difference from a boat and a ship is a boat has 1 floor/level and a ship is classed anything more than 1 floor/level


Lantern Swinger
I read that a ship has more than one deck above the waterline whereas anything else is a boat something like that. Its in the AFCO nformation booklet :thumright:


Lantern Swinger
To add confusion to the matter...

The small P2000s are referred to as ships (small Warships), yet belong to 1PBS (1st Patrol Boat Squadron).
Ships are these big grey things that sail on the oceans, Boats on the other hand are these vessels that go under the water, SUBMARINES!!!

Is it me or are we losing touch with what goes on in the Royal Navy
Ships carry boats. (So a submarine is a boat) This is the best modern way to describe the difference. Lets just say that if she has HMS before her name (and she floats) not HMSubmarine then she is a ship. Once upon a time destroyers were boats! Of course there is the very Old Navy saying that the only boats in the navy have gravy in them but that is just confusing the issue.


I always thought it was the turning thing. Ships turning to port will lean to starboard (centripetal acceleration and all that), whereas boats turning to port will lean to port.

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