Before the thundering Boeings and Airbuses hit the skies and made the world a smaller place, ships were the primary source for not only transportation, but also exploration and fighting wars. The exact history of boats is difficult to pinpoint, but the Noah's Ark can be cited as an example of how long ago they exist.
Famous ships can be broadly categorized on the basis of historical significance, war participation, and catastrophic shipwrecks. From an American history point of view, the Mayflower is said to be the most significant, since it bought the "Pilgrims" to Plymouth, starting from Southampton, England, in 1620. Another famous ship was the Spanish ship Amistad, which had on board 53 slaves, who revolted and killed their captors on July 2, 1839. The ship's navigator was spared so he could take the ship to Africa, but the ship arrived Long Island, New York instead. The slaves were acquitted after several trials and allowed a passage home to Africa.
The mighty Bismarck was the most powerful Nazi warship, which after being spotted by a reconnaissance aircraft, was engaged by the Prince of Wales and Hood. It sank the Hood in a matter of minutes and then escaped into the ocean, where it took a day and night of shelling by the three British ships, George V, the Rodney, and the Dorsetshire, to sink the German pride and joy. The latest famous ships include the Nimitz class nuclear powered aircraft carriers such as USS Truman that participated in the Iraq War and Hurricane Katrina relief.
From an infamous shipwreck point-of-view, the "unsinkable" Titanic preceded all, which when sank on April 15,1912, and had only 705 survivors out of the total 2227 people on board. However, few remember the sinking of the steamship Sultana on April 27, 1865, which left 1500 dead. The worst iron was that it had hundreds of Union POWs returning home after the Civil War, on a ship that had no lifeboats or life jackets.