Marine Engineering: Identifying the Basic Parts of a Ship

If you have ever taken a cruise or watched a movie set at sea, you might be confused between a keel and a gunwale. Whether you are about to buy your first boat or have a professional interest in shipbuilding, it is essential to know what the parts of a ship are called. To learn more about the basic elements of a ship, check out this simple guide.


Accommodation is where the living space for crew and passengers to eat and sleep is provided. By law, a ship’s accommodation is required to provide proper headspace, heating, lighting, and medical facilities.


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


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


A ship’s bridge allows navigators to safely and effective view the ocean and conduct maneuvers. It also contains communication equipment and controls for the ship’s speed and direction.


The deck helps hold the hull together by providing structural support and by creating floors and ceiling for the ship. It also 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.


The forecastle holds all the equipment needed for a ship to anchor safely. For naval vessels, the forecastle can also carry strategically located guns.


The purpose of a funnel is to release exhaust smoke produced by the ship’s operation. All exhaust funnels are directed towards the aft of the ship to avoid interfering with navigation.


A ship’s steel hull gives protection from the elements, reduces drag, and keeps everything watertight. Everything stored within the ship is protected by the hull.


The keel is called the backbone of a ship, a reinforced metal plate that helps hold the ship’s structure together. The keel also determines the depth of water that the ship can safely operate in, and allows it to steer in one direction, without spinning around. The keel also acts as a weight to prevent the ship from capsizing or rolling. 


The ship’s mast provides support for the ship’s crane or derrick. It also can contain radar equipment, navigation lights, and the ship’s horn.


Propellers provide ships with a forward motion, allowing them to move. A ship’s propeller can have different levels of pitch and anywhere from three to six blades.


The ship’s rudder is what allows the ship to steer itself when in operation. A rudder must be able to move 35 degrees to port and starboard to function safely.

Knowing the Parts of a Ship Is Important for Marine Engineering

If you’ve ever wondered what certain parts of a ship are called and what they do, the life of a sailor or marine engineer may be appealing. Contact us today for all your shipbuilding and marine engineering needs!