The Viking ships basically fall in three categories, large transport vessels (Knarr), Longships, for military use, and small coastal sailing and exploration vessels (Karv). Although as often depicted, all Viking ships did not carry the ?dragonhead? or ?serpent? figures. They were used mainly on warships or ships owned by high-ranked people. The Knarr were known for their maneuverability and loading capacity. The other designs included Byrdling, Skute and Ferje. The longships also had a number of variations, the Busse, the Skeide, the Snekke, the Sud, and Drakkar. The Busse were reportedly large capacity Viking ships with cargo capability, such as the “Ormen Lange” of King Olav Tryggvason, and they could have as many as 35 pair of oars. The Skeide was a Busse variation with smaller size and capacity. The Snekke were the most common ships, used by
Canute the Great, and William the Conqueror, renowned for their speed and durability. The Suds evolved near the end of the Viking era and are said to be the biggest Longships. The Drakkar are the most easily recognizable Viking ships due to their distinct dragon or serpent design that symbolized the superior rank of the commanding warrior.
The basic characteristic of Viking ships can be summed up as having a single mast, exceptionally long parallel oars, and the clinker design used for construction, which involved overlapping thick wooden boards.