Frame (nautical)

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A ship's frames are exposed as it is broken near Chittagong, Bangladesh Shipbreakingbangladesh.jpg
A ship's frames are exposed as it is broken near Chittagong, Bangladesh
Ship frames visible in an old wooden ship skeleton; Omis, Feb 20, 2012 Ship Frames; Omis, 2012-02-20 (1).jpg
Ship frames visible in an old wooden ship skeleton; Omiš, Feb 20, 2012

In ships, frames are ribs that are transverse bolted or welded to the keel. Frames support the hull and give the ship its shape and strength.


In wooden shipbuilding, each frame is composed of several sections, so that the grain of the wood can follow the curve of the frame. Starting from the keel, these are the floor (which crosses the keel and joins the frame to the keel), the first futtock, the second futtock, the top timber, and the rail stanchion. [1] In steel shipbuilding, the entire frame can be formed in one piece by rivetting or welding sections; in this case the floor remains a separate piece, joining the frame on each side to the keel.

Frame numbers are the numerical values given to the frames; they begin at 1 with the forward-most frame, and numbers increase sequentially towards the stern. The total number vary per the length of a ship. Frame numbers tell you where you are in relation to the bow of the ship; the numbers increase as you go aft. [2]

The frames support lengthwise members which run parallel to the keel, from the bow to the stern; these may variously be called stringers, strakes, or clamps. [3] The clamp supports the transverse deck beams, on which the deck is laid.

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rib (nautical)</span>

On a vessel's hull, a rib is a lateral structural member which runs between gunwales and sprouts from the keel. They are called "ribs" because they resemble the human rib. The ship's outer planking and inner sheathing are attached to the ribs. For ships that are too large for a rib to be made out of a single piece of wood, the ribs are made of multiple sections called futtocks that are scarfed together. The ancient writers Polybius and Plato held that, since the ribs of a ship were the most important part of the ship's framework, then if the ribs were new, then the ship as a whole was new. Iron was first used in shipbuilding to make the ribs and frames, with wood sheathing attached to them, but this proved inadequate compared to replacing the wood sheathing with iron plates.

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This glossary of nautical terms is an alphabetical listing of terms and expressions connected with ships, shipping, seamanship and navigation on water. Some remain current, while many date from the 17th to 19th centuries. The word nautical derives from the Latin nauticus, from Greek nautikos, from nautēs: "sailor", from naus: "ship".


  1. Crothers, William L (1997). The American-built Clipper Ship. International Marine. p. 142. ISBN   0-07-014501-6.
  2. "Boats for Beginners - US Navy Ships". June 7, 2000. Retrieved 2020-02-25.
  3. Steffy, J. Richard (December 2013). "Illustrated Glossary of Ship and Boat Terms". In Ford, Ben; Hamilton, Donny L; Catsambis, Alexis (eds.). The Oxford Handbook of Maritime Archaeology. Oxford Handbooks. doi:10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199336005.013.0048.

Further reading