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I was aboard Constitution a couple days ago and noticed the deck plank joint in the pic. 


Follow the plank joint starting at the toe of the person in the pic. Right at her toe, and again near the bottom right corner of the pic, there is a short “jog” in the joint, right angle, about 2” long. This is on the berth deck. There are similar joints on the gun deck (near the step, right of the white line, right of the sea chest in pic below)


I noticed these joints in many planks, mostly within about 10 ft of ship centerline. A pair of adjacent planks may have several of these joints along their length. 

Do these “castellated” plank joints have a special function?





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-- Jack Aubrey



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In theory this arrangement keeps the planks for sliding alongside one another resulting in a stiffer longitudinal structure.  In the hold of USS Constellation the ceiling planking has square cutouts across the seams into which a square block is inserted in order to stiffen the hull as well.  The attached photo shows these openings, some of which have had the blocks fall out.  Indicated in red are examples of an empty and a filled opening.  Other instances are apparent as well.





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There is also a series of thicker planks interlocked along the length of, and near, the centerline that form part of the stiffening for the ship.  King planks I think they are called.  I have also heard them referred to as just thick planks.





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