Ships are large, sea-faring watercrafts specifically designed to traverse large distances at a time in water. They are also capable of carrying heavy loads. They usually have multiple decks and can carry, aside from their load, lifeboats and dinghies. Ship sizes vary depending on their purpose and are often regulated by governing laws. Although ship size is based largely on a ship’s intended use, there are still huge ships which are built for prestigious reasons. Years back, a country’s ability to produce a huge ship was considered to be a national pride which would showcase how rich and powerful a country is. At present, ships are used for cruises; for transporting people to many parts of the world; as carriers to transfer heavy loads and goods from port to port; or as warships to protect the waters.
Before the 19th century, ships were powered by oar-propelled galleys or sails and even a combination of both. This way of propelling ships accounted for the length of time it took ships to traverse huge distances and also the effort put into sailing them. This offered less maneuverability considering the weight of the ships, thus, more ways of propelling ships were developed to come up with more efficient ships.
In 1807, the United States launched the first successful steam-propelled ship, designed by Robert Fulton. Europe immediately followed this trend in 1812. The use of steam engines in ship propulsion banked on the energy produced by steam. This energy was enough to power the ships, making them more efficient. Condensers, also developed during this time, significantly lowered fresh water requirements. Multiple expansion engines enabled the ships to travel even faster. The steam turbines maximized the power of the ships despite their heavy weight. These were launched as the next generation of high-speed watercrafts as we know them today.
It was only in 1912 that diesel engines made their mark in the ship industry, replacing heavy coal as the ship’s main fuel. These engines offered even more efficiency since they were much lighter than coal. Plus, coal-stokers were no longer needed to propel ships.