How to Kill Skeleton Ships in Sea of Thieves

Sinking a skeleton ship is challenge all pirates should know how to do.


Pirate life in Sea of Thieves has become far more dangerous for players as skeleton ships have begun surfacing across the waves. Killing a skeleton ship is no easy feat, as they contain dozens of skeletons, eight cannons, and are armed with cursed cannonballs. Players looking to sink a skeleton ship in Sea of Thieves would do well to come prepared for a long and gruelling fight!

How to Kill Skeleton Ships

Taking down a skeleton ship in Sea of Thieves is one of the most rewarding activities to complete outside of finishing a skeleton fort or taking down another team of pirates on the sea, but it is a challenge fraught with dangers. Before players begin hunting skeleton ships, it’s worth learning all about their strengths, weaknesses, and how to avoid becoming another sunken ship. Players should also consider completing the Cursed Sails campaign, as it rewards the new sails, a requirement for players looking to unlock the Cursed Sails commendations.

First and foremost, the skeleton ship is like the pirate version of the galleon, only beefed up. A skeleton ship has eight cannons, sniper platforms, cursed cannonballs, a captain, and continually respawning skeletons. This means that the skeleton ship is a threat from a distance and is also an extremely hostile vessel to try and board.

As part of the Cursed Sails campaign, skeleton ships spawn in pairs, so oftentimes a player vessel can be sandwiched between two skeleton ships and be bombarded with cannonballs. Furthermore, finishing a skeleton ship battle requires killing not just one ship, but actually sinking 8 skeleton ships.

Every skeleton on the ship has the ability to repair any hole that is made by the player; however, it’s worth nothing that skeletons cannot bail water from the skeleton ship. What this means is that any water that makes its way onto the ship will stay there, ensuring that so long as players can continue filling it with holes, it will eventually sink.

The best strategy for actually killing and sinking a skeleton ship is to have one player board the skeleton ship and “guard” the holes by killing skeletons and allowing as much water to leak in as possible. Meanwhile, the rest of the crew should remain on the sloop, brigantine, or galleon and continue firing shots into its hull – which should be easy given the size of the skeleton ship.

One difficulty of this strategy is actually remaining alive on the skeleton ship. Each of the skeletons come equipped with a weapon, whether it’s their bony hands, a cutlass, or one of the three guns, so avoiding damage becomes a problem. Players should use all obstacles to their advantage to try and kite the skeletons around, using the skeleton ship’s own hull as a barrier against getting shot.

The player who is on the skeleton ship should also do their best to kill any skeletons using the cannons, especially if the cannon glows green – this means a cursed cannonball has been loaded. Preventing a cursed cannonball from being fired into a friendly ship is a priority, as it can very quickly lead to a friendly vessel sinking and leaving the fight. Wherever possible, fire the cursed cannonball out of the cannon into the ocean.

Another strategy is to take a gunpowder barrel onto the skeleton ship and detonate it on the lower deck. This is obviously extremely risky, as skeletons can easily shoot the gunpowder barrel, exploding it before it can be put in an ideal location. However, a well-placed explosive can fill the skeleton ship will dozens of holes, leading to a quick kill.

In the event that resources start running low (make sure to begin the fight with a completely full supply of cannonballs), retreat to a nearby island and search for some supplies or head to a nearby outpost to refill. The skeleton ship battles spawn in waves, so leaving halfway through a battle doesn’t just end the event.

Once all waves of skeleton ships are defeated, there will be a short break before the next battle begins, which should allow players enough time to collect the treasure that drops from the last skeleton ship. The rewards for defeating the skeleton ships are Bilge Rat commendations that reward doubloons as well as several skeleton captain chests and skeleton captain skulls.

Be sure to check out the Shacknews Sea of Thieves guide and walkthrough for more tips on how to be the best pirate legend on the sea!

Guides Editor

Hailing from the land down under, Sam Chandler is relatively new to the industry, getting his start a few years ago as a writer-for-hire. After bouncing round a few universities, securing a bachelor degree, and finding his feet, he's found his new family here at Shacknews as a Guides Editor. There's nothing he loves more than crafting a guide that will help someone. If you need help with a guide, or notice something not quite right, you can Tweet him: @SamuelChandler