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High-resolution inverse synthetic aperture radar (ISAR) imaging and recognition of ship target is very important for many applications. Although the principle of ISAR imaging of ship target on the sea is the same as that of flying target in the sky, the former usually has more complex motion (fluctuation with the oceanic waves) than the latter, which makes the motion compensation very difficult. However, the change in phase chirp rate caused by the complex motion of ships will deteriorate the azimuth focusing quality. In this paper, we first model the complex motion of ship target with cubic phase terms (parameterised on chirp rate and its change rate), then a new ISAR imaging method, referred to as TC-DechirpClean, is proposed, which estimates the chirp rate and the change rate of chirp rate of all scatters in the time-chirp distribution plane. Both numerical and experimental results are provided to demonstrate the performance of the proposed method.