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The quarterdeck is that part of a warship designated by the commanding officer for official and ceremonial functions. In port, the quarterdeck is the most important place on the ship, and is the central control point for all its major activities. Underway, its importance diminishes as control of the ship is transferred to the bridge. The quarterdeck is normally on the main deck, but may be elsewhere in some types of ship. It is usually marked off by special lines, deck markings, decorative cartridge cases, or fancy knotwork.

The term quarterdeck is also frequently applied to the ceremonial and reception areas of shore-based naval facilities. Many such facilities have areas decorated like shipboard quarterdecks.


Special attention is paid to the quarterdeck's cleanliness and physical appearance. Those standing watch on the quarterdeck must be in the uniform of the day and present a smart appearance at all times. Personnel not in the uniform of the day generally avoid crossing the quarterdeck unless their work requires it. On ships with a well-defined quarterdeck area, uniformed personnel should salute when they enter it. Smoking and recreational activities are prohibited on the quarterdeck unless specially authorized by the commanding officer.

The starboard gangway to the quarterdeck is normally used by officers and their visitors; the port gangway is used by everyone else. In bad...
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