Modern Ship & Shipbuilding Terminology

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Alphabetical Search | All Entries | Terms from the Age of Sail
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Bermuda Rig: A fore-and-aft rig in which the mainsail is triangular in shape; also sometimes referred to as a Marconi rig. A Bermuda rig also includes one headsail.

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Center of Effort: Theoretical center or focus of wind force on a single sail or the theoretical center of the sum of wind forces on multiple sails.
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Conning Tower: A raised and armored observation post on a warship or submarine. On a submarine the conning tower often acted as an entrance to the submarine and as a compartment from which the periscopes were used to direct the boat and launch torpedo attacks.
Deadweight: Deadweight tonnage or DwT is the absolute maximum weight that a ship can safely carry when fully loaded. It includes crew, passengers, cargo, fuel, water, and stores. Often expressed in long tons or metric tons. Acronym: dwt. It is measured by measuring the displacement difference when the vessel is empty (or light) and fully loaded.
GRT: Gross Register Tonnage is the cubic capacity of all enclosed spaces of a ship, more often used then NRT for calculating cargo capacity of a vessel. A Gross Register Ton is equal to 2.83 cubic meters or 100 cubic feet.
Gusset: A metal or wood brace reinforcing a joint where two or more structural parts meet, such as hull frame members.
Headsail: Any sail set forward of the foremost mast of a sailing vessel.
In Ordinary: When a commissioned naval vessel is placed in ordinary, it is 'mothballed' or stored for later use, later re-assignment or possibly final decommissioning.
Lightship: An anchored ship acting as a floating lighthouse where building a lighthouse was not possible or impractical. Lightships would display a light at the top of a mast and in case of fog would sound a fog signal.

Example of a lightship
Metacenter: The point of intersection (M) of the vertical line through the Center of Buoyancy (B - centroid of the displaced volume of water) and the centreline of the hull. To ensure that a ship will come upright when she is heeled (listing) the Metacentre must be above the Centre of Gravity (G) of the hull.
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The more distance between the Metacenter and Center of Gravity, also called the Metaheight, the more 'stable' the hull.
Moon Pool: The opening in the hull of an offshore drilling vessel through which drilling equipment passes.
RAS: Replenishment at sea. Term for a Navy ship being re-supplied with fuel and other stores by a supply-ship while at sea.
Tender: A vessel attending to another vessel, in particular one that ferries supplies and personnel between ship and shore.

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Trimaran: A fast sailboat with three hulls, normally having a larger main center hull and two smaller outrigger hulls called amas, one on either side, connected to the center hull by a framework of struts called akas. The words aka and ama originate from the original 'outrigged' East Indies Caracore or Proa.
Welldeck: The space on a ship's weather deck lying at a lower level between a raised forecastle or poop and the bridge superstructure.
Windjammer: A variety of large and usually fore-and-aft rigged sailing vessels, used for pleasure cruises. Earlier definition of windjammer.

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