Slave Ship Design

Most people would assume that because a ship was used to carry slaves across seas, they were designed in order to fit this use. However, this is not the case. Most slave ships were actually just normal merchant ships. Slave ships would carry goods to Africa, and trade these goods for African captives. Then, they would carry these slaves across the ocean to the American colonies. After dropping these slaves off, they would return to their home country with colonial goods, such as rum, sugar, and cotton.

Although slave ships were just merchant ships, they did need to make some alterations in order for them to be able to carry live goods.
These modifications included air holes and open gratings to allow ventilation and for the slaves to be able to breathe. In addition, they would build a "house" on the main deck. This is where slaves would live. The slave deck was a deck built below the main deck, but above the second deck. These were crowed, unsanitary, and almost airless. Lastly, a "barricado" would be built on the main deck to barricade captives when they went up during daylight hours. This barricade was built because many thought that slaves on the main deck was very insecure.