“Victoria” (or “Nao Victoria”, as well as “Vittoria”) was a Spanish carrack and the first ship to successfully circumnavigate the world.
Alexander the Great is known as the creator of one of the largest empires in the history of the world.
Alvin was the first manned deep-sea submersible – a vessel capable of taking crew down to the ocean floor.
Vespucci realized the land he was exploring was a separate continent and not part of Asia, as he and many others believed at the time. The continents of North and South America are named after him.
One of the oldest of all the altitude measuring devices, the astrolabe is an angle-measuring tool. Its name comes from the Greek, “to take a star.”
Similar to a cross-staff, the back staff uses the shadow of the sun instead of the direct view of the sun to obtain the altitude.
The earliest barques were noted in Portugal with square sails and oars but by the 18th century, the British Navy used the term bark to cover ships that did not fall in any other categories.
He was the first European explorer to sail around the tip of Africa from the Atlantic Ocean to the Indian Ocean, and opened opportunities for a new trade route to India.
One of the earliest forms of watercraft, the canoe was a simple, small wooden boat with an open top and was primarily used to navigate rivers.
The Caravel was slightly smaller than the Carrack and was generally used for carrying cargo and fishing. They were faster than most vessels and therefore favored by pirates.
The Carrack or Nao (meaning ship) was developed as a fusion between Mediterranean and Northern European-style ships.
He is credited for discovering the Americas in 1492, although we know today people were there long before him; his real achievement was that he opened the door for more exploration to a New World.
A renowned privateer, he later led the ships bound for Jamestown and explored the Chesapeake Bay.
The first practical compass seems to have been made in Venice in 1274. It was a device supporting a magnetized needle over a card showing four or eight points of direction.
The cross-staff uses two pieces of wood to measure altitude, or the distance of an object above sea level or the horizon.
The dhow was a vessel used primarily for fishing and trade. It had triangular sails and a unique hull design.
Egyptians built some of the earliest boats ever recorded. The first ones were made from papyrus reeds and propelled by rowing.
Erik the Red was the first European to land on and settle in Greenland.
He led the first circumnavigation of the world, and is considered the first European to cross the Pacific Ocean
Used primarily for trade, the Fluit was adept at sailing in colder climates and had a large cargo hold.
He effectively ended Spanish dominance over the seas and the New World, allowing England to become a global empire.
He explored the southwest of the American continent, claimed most of the southwest for Spain and charted the course of many rivers and native roads in the area.
He is most known for conquering the Incan Empire of Peru and putting to death its king, Atahualpa, which firmly established Spanish control over South America.
The galleon developed in the early 16th century from ships such as the caravel and the carrack.
Discovered the majority of the eastern coast of America including the Virginia and Delaware Capes, New Jersey, New York Bay, Rhode Island, Narragansett Bay, Massachusetts Bay, and the Maine Coast.
GPS uses a series of orbiting satellites that receive and send radio signals to determine location and, in some cases, speed.
She gave birth to the first child of European descent in North America and walked to Rome to give the pope a first-person account of her journey.
He discovered the Hudson River, Hudson Strait and Hudson Bay on his search for a Northwest Passage to China, which allowed trade to expand throughout North America.
Hernán Cortés was the Spanish conquistador responsible for conquering the Aztec Empire and building Mexico City which secured Spain’s position in the New World.
Mapped much of the southern half of the modern United States, from Florida to North Carolina and west to the Mississippi River.
He was a Muslim explorer who made a series of journeys that spanned nearly three decades. He traveled throughout almost the entire Islamic world, and went as far as India and China.
Discovered the mouth of the St. Lawrence River and explored much of its area; gave Canada and Canadians their name.
He led the first expedition of sailors known to cross the Antarctic Circle and disproved the existence of the legendary “Southern Continent.”
She was a French botanist and explorer. She unknowingly became the first woman to sail around the entire globe.
He was a Spanish explorer who became the first governor of Puerto Rico, the first European known to reach the mainland of present day United States, and he gave Florida its name.
Besides having a cool name, the sturdy, lightweight junk is known for being the first ship to feature a rudder mounted on its stern for steering. The Chinese junk ship was among the most powerful and easily navigable ships in the ancient world.
Used to indicate the distance traveled north or south, the kamal was used to guide Arab ships to port. It led to the later development of the cross-staff.
Used to estimate the depth of the ocean, the rope was lowered into the water until its lead-stumped end hit the sea floor. Depth was determined by what mark was visible to the leadsman.
He became the first European to land on and establish a settlement in North America. He is also credited for bringing Christianity to Greenland.
Marco Polo is known for traveling along the Silk Road to China, where he explored and documented much of Asia not yet explored by Europeans.
Oceanographer and geologist who helped create the first map of the ocean floor, proving that it was not just the flat surface most people believed it to be.
He was a leading maritime explorer of Australia. He named the continent and produced the most accurate early atlas of the geography
He was the first European to discover Brazil and also established a successful sea route to India and was a leader in commercial expedition there.
Famous for their mastery of ancient maritime navigation and shipbuilding, the Phoenicians were likely the first to survey the Mediterranean Sea, creating the beginning of the modern field of geography.
Used at sea as early as the mid 1400s, the quadrant was used by sailors to measure the height of Polaris, the Pole star.
He led the first expedition to reach the South Pole and was the first person to successfully traverse the Northwest Passage.
Controlled by a crew aboard a vessel on the surface, ROVs can explore and work in the deepest parts of the ocean.
Discovered and charted the Ottawa River, Lake Huron, Lake Ontario, and founded Quebec; the first French colony in Canada
SONAR is a tool that allows ships and other vessels to find and identify objects in the water through a system of sound pulses and echoes.
Submerged underwater, the Tektite laboratory allowed scientist to explore the ocean floor longer and more up close.
The Traverse Board was used to record the direction a ship was sailing along with the corresponding speed of the ship for the same four hour period.
Portuguese explorer and navigator who found a direct sea route from Europe to Asia, and was the first European to sail to India by going around Africa.
Vasco de Balboa is credited as being the first European to set eyes on the Pacific Ocean from the New World, which paved the way for Spanish expansion.
The Viking ship was a strong durable ship that allowed the Norsemen of Scandinavia sail long distances and raid far away kingdoms.
Sir Walter Raleigh was in charge of creating the Roanoke colony in the name of England. Though unsuccessful, it paved the way for further colonization of the New World.
Zheng He commanded several treasure fleets – Chinese ships that explored and traded across Asia and Africa. His expeditions greatly expanded China’s trade.