Strong boat and ship hulls


Shipbuilding is one of the most ancient industries with a long history of development from the times of the ancient Egypt to modern era. Technologies evolved together with the shipbuilding materials: from leather or bark on a wicker hull to state-of-the-art high strength carbon fiber composites.

A lighter ship hull offers a greater speed and better fuel economy

Advantages of carbon composites

Weight, strength, stiffness, and water resistance are critical in shipbuilding. Carbon fiber composites meet the requirements and reduce ship maintenance costs.

The primary advantage of carbon fiber reinforced plastic in shipbuilding is the opportunity of creating large elements with less connections. The structure loses weight and gains rigidity, getting stronger in some cases.

Advantages of carbon fiber composites in shipbuilding:

  • Weight
  • High strength
  • High corrosion resistance
  • Wear resistance
  • High fatigue performance

Carbon fiber versus other materials

Fiber type

Tensile strength, MPa Tensile modulus, GPa Elongation at break, % Density, g/cm3
Carbon fiber made of PAN precursor high strength, standard modulus 3500-5000 200-280 1.4-2.0 1.75-1.80
high strength, intermediate modulus 4500-7000 280-325 1.7-2.1 1.73-1.81
high modulus 3500-5000 325-450 0.7-1.4 1.75-1.85
ultra high modulus 2500-4000 450-600 0.7-1.0 1.85-1.95
Glass E-glass 2500-3800 70-75 4.5-4.7 2.5-2.7
S-glass 4000-4500 80-90 5.0-5.3 2.5
Organic Aramid 3000-3600 60-180 2.4-3.6 1.45
Polyethylene 200-3000 5-170 3-80 0.96
Steel high strength 1200-2800 200 3.5 7.8
stainless 800-2000 190 3.0 7.8
Basalt 3000-4800 90-110 3.0 2.6-2.8
Boron 3500-4000 350-400 0.5-0.7 2.6


Surface and underwater ships assume heavy duty under constant exposure to water, salts, and other minerals.

Some catamarans and yachts have hulls fully made of carbon fiber reinforced plastic. Russia, Norway, Denmark, France, Italy, and other countries manufacture such vessels. Carbon fiber composites reduce the ship weight by an average of 30% to 40%, improve impact resistance by at least 20%, extend service life by at least 50%.


Composites are prevalently used to make small boats and yachts. Vessels like those are visually attractive and lightweight to save on fuel.

Carbon fiber is also used to build larger projects. The 143-meter long hull of the world’s largest Sailing Yacht A is made of steel with carbon fiber inserts to reduce weight. Its three 100-meter tall masts all of carbon fiber claim to be the tallest free standing objects of composites in the world.

Углеволоконные композиты позволяют снизить вес судна на 30-40%

Historical background

Carbon fiber substituted glass fiber reinforced plastic in shipbuilding that had been used since the middle of the last century.

The introduction of carbon fiber composites in 1961 was a change to the industry. Modern composites provide a perfect alternative to conventional materials. They offer superior service and fatigue performance, high chemical and corrosion resistance.


They started using carbon fiber composites in various branches of mechanical engineering not so long ago. Carbon fiber composites have been substituting more and more conventional engineering and construction materials since then.

One of the focal areas in contemporary shipbuilding is lower material consumption at the same reliability and corrosion resistance. Carbon fiber reinforced plastic meets the challenge and makes ships lighter, stronger, and better in terms of water resistance.