Skeleton Ship

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Disambig.png This article is about Ships manned by Skeletons. For Ghostly Ships, see Ghost Ships.

A Skeleton Ship is a ship operated by a crew of skeletons. They can appear as either a Galleon or a Sloop, distinguished by their blue and green lanterns, Bone Crusher Figurehead, torn sails, and fortified hulls.


Skeleton Ships can be found as patrol ships peacefully sailing between islands or through emergent encounters. A roaming skeleton ship will become aggressive to a player's ship if:

  • A ship with a player on it sails too close to it
  • A ship fires at the skeletons or the ship in any way
  • A player moves too close to the ladder or boards the ship
  • A ship rams the skeleton ship

Emergent Skeleton Ships will rise up out of the water near player ships and can be immediately hostile. Due to the large crew size of Skeleton Ships, they can repair very quickly. Skeletons are not equipped with buckets, so they cannot bail water from their ship if it takes damage. When aggressive, Skeleton Ships will start to sail alongside player ships and match their speed. They will either fire cannons or attempt to ram the player ship, however, skeletons will not attempt to board your ship. Skeleton Ships will also occasionally fire a single type of Cursed Cannonball at player ships. Skeleton Ships always carry respectable sums of loot, making them a detour worth taking while completing quests, as they reward loot for the 3 main trading companies.


There are two types of skeleton ships, Sloops and Galleons:

  • Skeleton Sloop: A small ship with 2 cannons (1 on each side) and a crew of 5+ skeletons. During emergent encounters against sloops, skeleton sloops are the more likely type to rise to attack and are generally easier to deal with.
  • Skeleton Galleon: A larger ship with 8 cannons (4 on each side) and a crew consisting of 10+ skeletons. This ship is slower except while sailing with the wind and less manoeuvrable, however, it has significantly more firepower.


Skeleton Ships have random Treasure on board, with a high chance to find Skeleton Captain’s Skulls and Skeleton Captain’s Chests.

Once defeated, a Skeleton Ship will leave behind 3-12 pieces of Treasure from the list below:

The Storage Crates only have Cannonballs, Planks and occasionally Fruit in them.

Sinking Skeleton Ships as a Trading Company Emissary rewards Crews with a small amount of Emissary Grade Reputation.

A Skeleton Fleet cloud.

Skeleton Fleet

Main article: Skeleton Fleet

A Skeleton Fleet is a World Event signalled by a dark storm cloud shaped like a galleon. The cloud's size is tied to the player's proximity to the event. Skeleton Fleets spawn in the middle of the Sea of Thieves, close to the Glorious Sea Dog Tavern and remain for 30-45 minutes. Fleets have 3 waves, each wave having two ships. In each wave, both ships are of the same type however the type is independent of the wave and is random.

Battle mechanics

For each ship, the skeleton and cannonball types are randomised. The crews can either consist of normal, plant, gold, or shadow skeletons. The ships can also use one type of green or purple Cursed Cannonballs or Firebombs in the battle. When a Skeleton Ship becomes aggressive towards a player ship, the crew will immediately start shooting their cannonballs and attempt to ram the player's ship for extra damage. When in close enough proximity, the skeleton crew will also attempt to shoot at the player with their guns.

Each Skeleton Ship has a captain, a cannon crew on the top deck, a repair crew below deck and snipers on the crow's nest. Any skeletons that are killed on a skeleton ship will respawn after a while. The cannon crew constantly uses one type of cursed cannonball in addition to regular ones, making it harder for the player ship to move or repair their damage. For example, if a Skeleton Ship has weary balls, the player may find themselves being constantly put to sleep and unable to fight back, escape or even repair, so it is of utmost importance to not stand still at a Skeleton Ship's cannon range. The repair crew will focus on patching up any holes, but they cannot bail out water so the most effective way of sinking a Skeleton Ship is to fill up their ship with water in one way or another.


Because of the vast number of items in Sea of Thieves, there are many ways to sink Skeleton Ships, the most effective of which are listed below.

Basic battle method

For this method, one generally wants to stockpile cannonballs, planks and food. For this strategy, players simply want to get the Skeleton Ship in cannon range and keep up the firing pressure until the Skeleton Ship sinks. For this method, it is best to have at least one player on cannon and steering duty and one player on repair duty. It is important to hit the cannonballs on the lower deck until they sink to the second deck. Aim for the upper decks when their cannoneers are causing trouble or when their water is already at the second deck. Cursed Cannonballs also work on Skeleton Ships and crews so these are advised to use to keep the Skeleton Ship from manoeuvring and repairing its hull. The Ballast and Peace Balls are extremely effective in sinking Skeleton Ships.

Hole guarding method

This method requires at least two people in the Crew. Have one person man the Cannons and shoot at least one bottom-deck hole, while the other person jumps on board the Skeleton Ship and goes down to guard the Hole from being Planked up by all the Skeletons. This requires a certain level of survival skills of the one guarding the holes, as they have to be able to take on waves of skeletons without dying. Additional Food can be found on the Food Barrel on-deck.

Gunpowder Barrel method

One of the more effective ways to take down these ships. This method involves a member of the player crew taking a Gunpowder Barrel onto the other ship and detonating it. Be mindful that Skeleton Ships tend to speed away from any player that is approaching their ladders, so make sure you hit them with an Anchorball or get them stuck on a rock, island or other ships so that the keg bearer has a guaranteed chance to board. You could also Harpoon the Skeleton Ship to get closer. After this is done, it is usually best to stay and distract the repair crew from patching the holes as a powder keg is not guaranteed to sink a Skeleton Ship. This can be mixed with cannons, as well as ramming the enemy ship for devastating combos. The best place to detonate the keg would be in the bottom deck, but the keg bearer has to watch out for the repair crew as they will immediately try to kill anyone who enters below deck.

Chest of Sorrow method

If you have been lucky (or unlucky) enough to encounter a Chest of Sorrow on your travels and are bothered by a Skeleton Ship then you have a surefire way of sinking them. The Chest of Sorrow continuously fills up any ship with water when crying and as luck would have it, Skeleton Crews are incapable of bailing out water from a ship. Following the same advice as the Powder Keg Method, have one of your crewmates simply drop the chest anywhere on the Skeleton Ship and watch as they helplessly sink once the chest starts crying.

The Harpoon and bail method

As of the Anniversary Update, this has become one of the easiest and most painless ways to sink any Skeleton Ship. The idea here is to sail behind a Skeleton Ship and have one of your crewmates harpoon the stern (back end) of their ship and keep pulling it in. Meanwhile, all the other members of the crew should fill their buckets with water and start bailing overboard towards the Skeleton Ship. This will fill up the Skeleton Ship in no time, causing them to sink without many supplies lost. This is best achieved when you have one small hole in your ship, so you can get a continuous source of water for sinking the Skeleton Ship.

The Bail method can also be done solo without a ship. You could simply swim or rowboat close to a passive Skeleton Ship (note that your own ship has to be far away for them not to aggro) and keep on throwing water on their deck.

Cursed Sails

Main article: Cursed Sails

Skeleton Ships were introduced in 2018 during the Cursed Sails event. Each week of the event had set timeframes where players were tasked to defend a certain region from a Skeleton fleet that would have a specific Cursed Cannonballs arsenal.


  • Players can fix the holes of Skeleton Ships with Wooden Planks.
  • The map found on the Skeleton Ship map table uses an older, concept art version of the world map.
  • It is possible to unload Cannonballs and Cursed Cannonballs out of a skeleton ship's cannon.
  • Difficulty does not scale with ship size, unlike other encounters.

Patch history

  • 2.2.0 (June 22, 2021)
    • While on a Skeleton Galleon, walking into geometry outside the Captain’s cabin should no longer cause players to safe teleport.
  • 2.0.14 (April 22, 2020)
    • Defeating an emergent threat such as a Skeleton Ship will now result in higher-value loot drops.
  • 1.4.4 (March 6, 2019)
    • Rain is no longer visible inside Skeleton Ships.
  • 1.4.3 (February 6, 2019)
    • Skeleton Ship Encounter Range - Skelly Ships will wait until you’re further away before they consider returning to the depths.
  • 1.4.0 (November 28, 2018)
    • Skeleton Ships - Players can now encounter passive and aggressive emergent Skeleton Ships anywhere in the world! Passive ships just want to go about their business but they will fight back if you attack them. Best of luck if one of the more aggressive ones surfaces near you...
    • Skeleton Ships will no longer ping into the air on occasion.
    • During Skeleton Ship battles there will no longer be occasional long delays between waves.
  • 1.2.0 (July 31, 2018)
    • Introduced.