In the quote, "The Governor was eager to scrape a few barnacles off the ship of state", what literary device is used?I don't understand why these statements are significant?

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morrol | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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This quote is a metaphor. A metaphor compares two unlike things. In this case the barnacles probably represent something old, something or someone who has been clinging to the "ship" or "the state" for a long time. Here the governor is being compared to a captain of a ship, a leader, who must make decisions about who is on board.