The masterpiece of ancient greek shipbuilding was, undoubtedly, the trireme. According to Thucydides it was created by Corinthians at the 7th century BC and at the 6th century BC it was used widely as a war ship. According to another opinion, it was created in the Aegean area at around 530 BC, and its design was influenced by the Phoenicians' ships. Terminally, other scientists claim that Corinthians and particularly Ameinocles, where those who designed this ship and probably Polycrates was the first who used the trireme on behalf of the Pentekonters.
The triremes were lengthy and narrow ships with 3 rows of oarsmen, one or two velums and a complicate gear. The third row of the oarsmen was an invention of Ameinocles, and it gave additional power in the oars being handled by this rows, because they paddled from a stall that was not in the same vertical line with the other two. The length of the trireme reach 40 meters, and as many researchers of shipbuilding claim, the ancient Greeks had solved in the best possible way a problem which was confronted by shipbuilders after twenty centuries. They wanted to combine the most negligible draught and the most small bilge, with the most powerful promotion and the most possible attacking ability. This exceptionally fast ship rammed the hostile ships with the aid of a copper ram. Furthermore, triremes possesed an arched stern and eyes being drawn in the prow and in the stern and there was a flag of those who were inside the ship, as well as two wider oars (one on the one side and one on the other) which functionned as steerings.
The crew of a trireme consists of about 200 men , from whom 170 were heretes (oarsmen) and the rest were navigators and hoplites. The oarsmen of the first level , who were called 'thranites' , they were sitting in two rows of 31 people each. The oarsmen in the middle , 'zygites' , were sitting in two rows of 27 people each. The oarsmen of the third level, 'thalamites', at the same disposition with 'zygites'. The hull of the ships was constructed by brits. The keels and the thews were oaken. The wooden parts of the hull were connected with chocks. This junction were reinforced with cotter pin.
The Athenians preponderated from the rest of the Greeks for a long period of time by using the famous triremes. The Athenians did not remain only in the premature plan of Ameinocles, but they studied and elaborated the ship , making a few modifications. The Athenian Trireme was about 35-37 meters long, 5-5,20 meters wide, 1,8 meters high from the surface of the water and 1,2-1,5 meters draught, and as a consequence, it could sail with no problems in shallow waters. Its displacement was about 70-80 tons.Its crew consisted of about 200 men, from whom 170 were oarsmen ('heretes'). The oarsmen of these ships were free citizens and not slaves. Each oarsmen pulled only one oar. The crew was filled by the captain of trireme who had the surveillance of the whole trireme and was the person responsible for the shipbuilding.
The velocity of trireme reached 15 Kmh, whereas in case of a battleship for a small period of time it could rise even to 20 Kmh, a velocity which was considered great for that time. It covered frequently 100 Km every day, as it was useful not only as commercial ships, but as warships as well. It was armed at its front port with a ram beign covered by metal, with which it was capable of ramming and shipwrecking the rival ships.
Because of trireme, Greek people prevailed over the persian fleet in the Salamin's battleship (480 BC), which was detrimental for the future of Greece. The only drawback of these ships was that they did not have enough storage rooms. For this reason, war fleets were followed by commercial ships, which were fraught with supplementary equipment.
Athenians were more sophisticated than the other Greeks, craving a wonderful navigational policy, which was based on the power of their trireme. As a matter of fact, nobody could express doubt about how this very sophisticated ship contributed to the creation and spreading of greek civilization.
Historians, however, wasted much time in order to discover the reason why these ships were called triremes. Firstly they believed that this name was given to them, because as they previously thought, in each oar corresponded three oarsmen. Nevertheless, in 1852 AC, taking into consideration the bas-relief which was found in acropolis, it was proved that the name was given because of three uneven cornies of the ship, the so called "thrania". These were modified, in order to create an oblique disposition, not a vertical one. Trireme was characterized as the masterpiece of ancient greek shipbuilding and it represented a borderline point of navigational evolution, dominating for 1000 years in Mediterannean.