Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

You are here: Home / German Flag / Types of Ships / Special vessels and small craft
Emergency on Board
Latest Information
Ship certificates
Contact Details

Special vessels and small craft


What is a “special vessel”?

Special vessels are cargo ships with more than 100 GT with a particular purpose. Special vessels are subdivided into several categories:

  • tugboat: a cargo ship which is built and designed to haul and push water craft, floating tools and other floating equipment;
  • authority vessel: a cargo ship which is used for official and not commercial purposes, in particular a service vessel within the meaning of § 3c) of the German Flag Act;
  • water craft with no independent propulsion: a cargo ship which is built so as to be hauled or pushed by other craft, in particular barges or pontoons;
  • floating tool: a cargo ship built in such a way that it can only accommodate a specific tool and which does not have any other loading possibility, in particular dredgers, floating cranes, pile drivers, hoisting devices, drilling, jack-up and production platforms;
  • jack-up vessel: a cargo ship which is built and designed to transport and erect structures at sea;

Legal base for special vessels

If a special vessel is not covered by the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), German law applies. Aside from the German "Schiffssicherheitsverordnung" (Ship Safety Ordinance) two guidelines are mainly relevant for special vessels under German flag:

(back to top)



Small craft

Small craft are cargo ships with a minimum length of 8 metres and a maximum of 100 GT. The safety requirements for small craft are outlined in the national safety directive for cargo ships.

(back to top)