The false keel was a timber, forming part of the hull of a wooden sailing ship. Typically 6 inches thick for a 74-gun ship in the 19th century, the false keel was constructed in several pieces, which were scarfed together, and attached to the underside of the keel by iron staples. The false keel was intended to protect the main keel from damage, and also protect the heads of the bolts holding the main keel together. The false keel could easily be replaced when it became damaged.
- Fincham, John (1825). An Introductory Outline of the Practice of Ship-building, &c. &c. Portsea Island: William Woodward. p. 189. Retrieved September 22, 2019.
FALSE KEEL […] a keel brought on the under side of the main keel […] but slightly fastened, that in the event of the ship taking the ground it may readily clear itself, and help to free the ship.