Ships 101

Ships, boats, vessels, pleasure craft, derelict vessels…  When we receive a claim, here’s one of the first questions our team asks itself:

  • Was the pollution incident caused by an oil spill or the risk of an oil spill from a ship?

Here is what we mean by “ship”:

  • Is it designed, used, or usable for moving in water?

We classify ships according to the following categories:

  • Tankers
  • Cargo, container, and passenger vessels
  • Tugs and barges
  • Fishing vessels
  • Pleasure craft
  • Other

We can also pay compensation in the case of mystery spills, where we can’t identify the ship that caused a spill.

It may be surprising, but the following are all examples of ships:

  • Abandoned ships
    • In 2022-2023, more than half of all claims we received were related to derelict or abandoned ships
  • Autonomous or remotely controlled ships
  • Personal watercraft, such as a sea-doos
  • Amphibious vehicles that can travel on both land and water
  • Submarines
  • Ships under construction, from the moment they can float
  • Some offshore structures, such as oil rigs, if they are not secured to the ocean floor

Caution! A ship may lose its status. For example, an old ship that is permanently attached to the shore, a dock system or a breakwater may no longer be considered a ship.

The following are NOT factors we consider when assessing whether it is a ship:

  • Registration, or operating licences or permits
  • Insurance coverage
  • Size or gross tonnage
  • Whether it requires a crew or is remotely controlled
  • Whether it carries passengers
  • Whether it carries cargo
  • Whether it is self-propelled
  • Whether it is damaged, broken up, abandoned, or sunken
  • Location: a ship placed on land is still a ship