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Modern ships are built from a series of prefabricated hull sections. The event recognized as the ‘keel laying’ is the first connection of these sections, or the positioning of the first section in the construction dock or slipway. This event marks the ceremonial beginning of the ship's life, although the construction on some sections may have started months earlier.
This series of photos shows the event and ceremony performed at the Chowgule Shipyard in India, when the keel laying was started for the first VERTOM 5600 vessel.