So here is my list of the top ten most famous ships—both military and civilian—in history.

10.  The Santa Maria

The Santa Maria

It is less than 70 feet long and by all accounts a slow and hideous vessel, some of the people deny the fame the tiny Spanish boat  achieved when she brought Christopher Columbus to the new world.

9. C.S.S. Hunley

C.S.S. Hunley

This was built by the Confederates in 1863 specifically to sink Union ships then barricading Southern ports, she sank two times while being tested, killing 13 of her crew (including her designer, H.L. Hunley) in the process. Finally she was ready to go on February 17, 1864, the Hunley, which never seemed to come to an end of men eager to serve on her despite the generally suicidal nature of doing so, snuck up on the Union sloop Housatonic and masked a spar torpedo in her side. Remarkably, the torpedo detonated as planned and the Housatonic sank, give her the uncertain distinction of being the first ship in history to be sunk by a submarine.

8.  U.S.S. Monitor and C.S.S. Virginia (aka Merrimack)

U.S.S. Monitor and C.S.S. Virginia (aka Merrimack)

The hours-long battle fought between these two behemoths off Hampton Roads, Virginia in March, 1862 was relatively discreet and finished in a draw, it may was one of the most significant battles in naval history, in this battle, it was the first time two ships made mainly of iron rather than wood ever engaged in battle.

7. U.S.S. Constitution

U.S.S. Constitution

This is also known as “Old Ironsides” due to her powerful construction, the oldest still intact ship in America serves as a museum in Boston, Massachusetts. Even after 213 years, she had very long service life, she was involve in commission on and off between 1797 all the way to the Civil War, after that she was used in training. She also fought in two conflicts, one was Barbary War—when she battled real pirates and the War of 1812, during that she distinguished herself by defeating the British frigates HMS Guerriere and HMS Java. Her fame saved her from the wrecking yard and in 1907 she started serving as a museum ship. Old Ironsides has been restored, refurbished and rebuilt a lot of times, it is said, those were her keel, the only original part in ship that remains, the rest having being replaced several times over the decades. She is also a still officially specially made warship, with a 60-man crew who are all active duty members of the United States Navy.

6. Battleship U.S.S. Missouri

Battleship U.S.S. Missouri

Though not a contributor in any major ship-to-ship sea battles, the “Mighty ‘Mo”, as she became known to her crew, had the difference of being the vessel upon which the surrender documents that finished World War Two were signed in Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945.

5. HMS Victory

HMS Victory

There were no single ship serves as a better symbol for the power that was the Royal Navy during the late early 19th century than does Lord Nelson’s venerable and, indeed, almost famous, flagship.

4. Battleship U.S.S. Maine


The battleship Maine became a rallying point for a nation planning a war. In the evening of February 15, 1898, the ship was torn in two parts by a puzzling explosion and sank in a matter of minutes, killing all but 89 of her 355-man crew. The reason of the explosion was never determined.

3. German Battleship Bismarck

German Battleship Bismarck

German dreadnought Bismarck was the one of the ships who created so much fear in the heart of British Navy in 1941. She was the fastest and largest warship.  Breaking out of her Baltic haven in late May, she became the point of  discussion of the largest naval hunt in Royal Navy history and one that was to cost the British extremely.

2. Battleship U.S.S. Arizona

Battleship U.S.S. Arizona

She was one of only three ships sunk during the attack that was never repaired;  She remains there to this day as a war memorial, then she was visited by millions of people every year. Considering how famous the ship is today, it is interesting that few Americans knew about the Arizona’s fiery fate.

1. British Luxury Liner RMS Titanic

British Luxury Liner RMS Titanic

That is one of my favorite and most famous ship in the history, Titanic was designed by showcase mankind’s technological brilliance. It’s in stories that the designer claimed “The ship can never be sunk, even not by God”. That was the  largest and fastest passenger ship of early nineteen’s, The  “British Luxury Liner RMS Titanic” left England on April 10, 1912 on its maiden voyage to New York, it sunk at fifth day of its voyage by strike with an iceberg.

Thousands of people died and it took just 2 hours to sink. The ship just had only half the lifeboats needed, dooming approximately 1,500 passengers and crew to a watery grave in the middle of the icy North Atlantic. In 1985, the ship was rediscovered three miles below the surface of the North Atlantic, and has since then become the inspiration for a multitude of documentaries, and then the most successful movie of 1999 also made on it. We can say that with the Titanic, humanity learned a hard lesson that continues to pay dividends to this day.

Other Famous Ships in History:

HMS Endeavor

U.S.S. Enterprise

RMS Lusitania

Golden Hind


HMS Bounty

Battleship Potemkin

Japanese Battleship Yamato

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