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It is difficult to classify ships. They are generally made on the same principle - not to sink and because of that they have basically the same parts. Because of that they are classified according to their function. Read more about ships types and classifications.
Merchant vessels come in many sizes depending on their purpose, from 6 meter inflatable dive boats to casino vessels that can take 5,000 passengers. Find out here different types of merchant ships.
Ships can differ according to the material they were made of, what is their role, how they were designed, how many masts they have or what type of sails they carry. They changed in time and many of them are not in use anymore. Read about historical ships and its types.
World’s largest ships are mainly tankers or cargo ships. They are large so they could carry more but their size can present a problem when they can’t enter smaller ports.