DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
901 M STREET SE -- WASHINGTON NAVY YARD
WASHINGTON DC 20374-5060
A "plank owner" is an individual who was a member of the crew
of a ship when that ship was placed in commission. In earlier years, this
applied to a first commissioning; since then, it has often been applied
to one who was part of a recommissioning crew as well. "Plank owner"
is not an official Navy term, and has consequently been variously defined
by different Navy units.
Plank-owner certificates are procured by and issued to crew members of the
ship being commissioned; they are not officially issued by the Navy. Some
ships' crews design their own, while others purchase them from commercial
sources. Perhaps the best-known of these are the ones sold by the United
States Naval Institute. These color certificates can be obtained as
blanks; if the purchaser wishes to provide the necessary information, they
can be filled in for an additional charge.
Illustrations and prices of these certificates can be obtained from the
Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, MD 21402.
In the case of ships with wooden decks, if the veteran has a plank owner
certificate or statement of service showing that he was on the ship when
it was commissioned, the veteran can write to the Naval Historical Center's
Curator Branch, and request a piece
of deck planking. If the veteran meets the above criteria and the Curator
Branch has possession of deck planking, the plank owner or his widow can
receive a small section of the deck. For more recent ships with metallic
decks, the Navy is regretfully unable to issue deck sections.
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