Persistence of Wooden Vessel Names over Time

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    Anecdotally, I have heard that a wooden vessel, although perhaps almost totally rebuilt over time, is regarded as the same vessel, or same-named vessel, so long as some significant element survives – a cross-beam bearing the Registration Number, or a name board, for example. In the context of a current, well-evidenced, study of a class of wooden coastal and inland barges, built and rebuilt over some 150 years, I would be grateful to know of any citable source for that view. Many thanks.

    Frank Scott

    What you are referring to is the ‘Grandfather’s Axe Paradox’, whereby the object remains the same although all components have been changed. In the maritime world this does not just apply to wooden vessels. Steel ships can also have massive re-builds yet still be the same ship. An obvious British example was the aircraft-carrier HMS Victorious (R38), which was first commissioned in 1941, but so totally re-built 1950-58 (angled deck, longer, beamier, heavier, etc) as to be unrecognisable.

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