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The symmetric scattering characterization method (SSCM) has been recently introduced for high-resolution characterization of certain targets under coherent conditions. SSCM is based on the Poincare´ sphere representation, which supports a high-resolution decomposition of symmetric target scattering, as well as assessment and validation of the backscatter coherence. In this paper, the SSCM is investigated for ship characterization using Convair-580 polarimetric synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data. It is shown that the target Poincare´ parameters permit identification of dominant scatterers with a significant symmetric scattering component. The polarization orientation angle of these quasi-symmetric scatterers is used to derive an estimate of the ship's pitch angle, under certain conditions. The effect of SAR system focus setting errors and Doppler centroid mistracking on the SSCM performance is investigated. It is shown that the SSCM is sensitive to the system focus setting and Doppler centroid shift. The first-order effects of these errors can be removed prior to the application of the SSCM method.