Ship vs. Boat

Difference Between Ship and Boat

There are many kinds of water-crafts like Kayaks, canoes, catamarans, tugs, ferries, motor boats, submarines, yachts, cruise and they are categorized into boats and ships according to their size. To a common man the smaller water crafts are boats while the larger ones are ships. This can be a very simple line of difference but there are many more differences between the two.

Ship is at least 500 tons in weight and it travels in lakes, rivers and oceans. These are operated by sailors who are trained to handle this robust water craft. Ships can easily travel across deep seas without any difficulty. Ships are used for transportation, travel warfare, public safety and entertainment as in the case of cruise.

Boat is a simple vessel which is used for passing a water body. There are boats that are operated manually like kayaks, canoes, catamarans, tugs, ferries, motor boats, submarines, yachts, and cruise and there are motor operated ones like the submarines and yachts. Boats are the sea going crafts which weigh less than 500 tons.

There is a lot of confusion over the submarines. Because of their large size they are considered to be ships but they are boats. The reason for this misconception is the early day’s submarines. These submarines were attached to large ships and this why people started to call them ships.

Ships are larger water crafts that have the technology to support variety of functions like cargo carrying, tankers for cruising, fishing at commercial scale and they have licensed sailors and engineers to operate and maintain them. Use of the term ship and boat also depends on the region where it is used.

Main differences between ships are boats are:

  • Ships are larger than boats.
  • Ships weigh more than 500 tons while boats weigh less than 500 tons.
  • Ships are for deep water navigation and cannot navigate in shallow waters while boats can navigate in shallow and deep waters, both.
  • There is no human powered ship while many boats are still human powered.
  • Ships are used for heavy operations while boats are for simple purpose of navigation

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  • Philchambord

    One distinguishing charaisteristic is that a ship has it’s main  deck above the water line and a boat’s main deck is below the water line.

    • Canadiankyosa

       I beg to differ. We had a inboard-engine pleasure boat when I was younger and its “deck” was above the waterline.

  • Canadiankyosa

    Sorry, but a correction is in order, no matter what they call them. All boats and ships are not powered by electricity and, therefore, are not “motor” boats. Anything powered by liquid fuel to mechanical energy is an engine. Anything powered by electrical to mechanical power is an engine. You cannot call a starter motor a starter engine. If the words meant the same thing, it means you can. It goes the other way around, too. If I call an elephant an elephant, but you call it a giraffe, does that mean that the words are animal may be called either one? Nope.