Naval Term I

Aback Backing a sail is turning it so that the wind hits the front face; the effect is to slow a ship or boat. A sail which is being backed is said to be ‘aback.’ A sailing ship which accidentally goes aback when tacking loses its momentum and is said to be ‘in irons.’ A person is said to be ‘all aback’ when he is confused or surprised.
Abaft Aft of a given point on a ship; e.g. the bridge is abaft the bow.
Acockbill Out of alignment or awry. In original usage, if a sailing ship’s yards were not all aligned, she was said to be "all acockbill." See also SQUARED AWAY.
Active Homing A homing (guidance) method where the missile provides its own signal (typically either radar or sonar) transmissions and homes in on the energy reflected off the target.
Adrift (1) Not secured; scattered about; not properly stowed, or out of place. (2) (RCN) Missing in action. "Oh no, I'm adrift for the meeting and the Bossman'll be there!"
Advance and Transfer Two separate terms involving a ship’s turn. Advance is the forward progress made between the time that the rudder is put over and the time the ship is steady on her new course. Transfer is the horizontal displacement of the ship during the same period of time. Advance is maximized in a turn of 90 degrees or more; transfer is maximized in a turn of 180 degrees or more.
Air Wing The officers and men assigned to the aircraft aboard a ship, whether a carrier (usually referred to as a "carrier airwing") or a smaller vessel (generally referred to as an "air det" (detachment)); the airwing has a separate administrative and operational chain of command.
Aldis (UK) A handheld signaling lamp.
Alpha Mike Foxtrot Acronym for "Adios, Motherfucker". Polite form: "Adios, My Friend." Also seen as initials, ‘AMF.’
Anchor Clanker (1) Boatswain's Mate. (2) (RN) Ordinary seaman. See DECK APE.
Anchor Pool The betting pool on the hour and minute the ship will drop anchor or tie up.
Anchor’s at short stay The ship has been pulled up to the anchor, but the anchor is still lying on the bottom, undisturbed.
Anchor’s aweigh The anchor has left the bottom. Legally, at this point the ship is under way, whether or not it is "making way" (moving through the water under its own power).
Anchor’s up and down The anchor’s flukes have broken free of the bottom, and the shank is more or less vertical. The crown of the anchor is still resting on the bottom.
ARAB (UK) Arrogant Regular Army Bastard.
ASAP As Soon As Possible. Usually spoken as a word, "A
Avast A command which means, basically, "Stop what you’re doing." This term appears to be from the French "Haud Vast," literally "hold fast."
Aweigh (sometimes seen (improperly) as "away") When a ship raises (weighs) anchor, the anchor is said to be aweigh as soon as it is no longer in contact with the sea bottom. From the process of weighing anchor; the sequence of reports is usually as follows:
AWOL Bag A small canvas or vinyl bag used to carry clothing or personal items while on weekend liberty.

Baby Shit Yellowish, evil
Banyan (RCN/UK) A barbecue or party on the flight deck, usually with steaks and beer. The term is derived from ‘banian’, a garment worn by an East Indian sect which neither kills nor eats meat (‘Banyan’ is a species of tree). In the 18th century, the British navy denied its sailors meat on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays; these days were known as ‘banian (or Banyan) days.’ The term has now come to mean just the opposite. The USN form is STEEL BEACH (without the beer).
Barrack Stanchion (RNZN) A sailor who rarely goes to sea.
Barricade (the) (1) A device vaguely similar to (but much larger than) a tennis net which can be rigged and used to stop an aircraft which is unable to TRAP. Aka 'barrier'. (2) In the days of the straight
Bilge Diving Working in the bilges of a ship, or cleaning same.
Bilge rat Someone who works in the engineering spaces.
Bingo (1) Fuel level or status requiring either an immediate return to base or vector to a tanker, 'bingo fuel'. As a verb, the act of returning to base or a tanker because of low fuel state.
Bird farm Aircraft carrier.
Blue Water Literally, 'deep water,' or 'deep draft,' but more traditionally, 'away from land.' The opposite of BROWN WATER. A 'blue water navy' is capable of prosecuting battle away from shore
Boats Boatswain’s Mate.
Bogey Unidentified air contact. May turn out to be friendly, neutral, or hostile.
Bogey Dope Radio calls to the intercepting fighter giving data on the bogey's position, course, altitude, etc.
BOSNIA Big Old Standard Navy Issue Ass. Refers to the size of the sterns of some (usually female) navy personnel.
Bracket In shipboard gunnery, a bracket results when one salvo lands to the left of the target and the next lands to the right. Adjustments in deflection usually result in a hit soon after.
Brass Officers, especially senior officers.
Bravo Zulu Phonetic pronunciation of 'BZ' from the NATO signals codes. Signifies 'Good Job' or 'Well Done.'
Breakaway The act of disconnecting from an UNREP ship and maneuvering clear. Can be either a normal or emergency evolution, the difference being simply how quickly the various actions are accomplished.
Brow The proper term for what is often called the ‘gangway,’ the temporary bridge connecting the ship’s quarterdeck to the pier.
Brown Water Shallow water or shallow draft, especially a ship or navy whose ships are not suited to deep (or open) water and deep
Brown Water Ops Naval operations in shallow water, typically consisting of water depths of 100 fathoms or less.
Bulkhead A naval wall.
Bulldog Codeword for Harpoon cruise missile.
Butt Kit Ashtray.
Cake Hole Mouth. Also seen as "snack hole."
Captain of the… Person in charge of a particular part of the ship, e.g. Captain of the Focs'le. Derogatory, ‘Captain of the Head.’
Captain's Mast Non
Charlie Oscar Commanding Officer.
Charlie Sierra Phonetic abbreviation for ‘chickenshit.’ The unnecessarily thorough enforcement of an insignificant or unimportant regulation.
Cheng CHief ENGineer. Pronounced 'chang'.
Chips Ship’s carpenter.
Chop (1) Supply Officer. See PORKCHOP. (2) CHange of OPerational command, spoken as "inchop" (entering a command region or zone) or "outchop" (leaving a command region), e.g. "We will inchop MIDEASTFOR at 0830 tomorrow."
Class Alpha Fire A fire which leaves ashes.
Class Bravo Fire A fire involving flaming liquids.
Class Charlie Fire An electrical fire.
Class Delta Fire A fire involving special materials and firefighting methods. Commonly thought to consist of a fire involving flammable metals, which is one example of a Class Delta fire; another type of Class Delta fire involves deep fat fryer equipment.
CO Commanding Officer. The captain or skipper of a vessel. Generally spoken as 'Charley Oscar'.
COB Chief Of (the) Boat. Senior enlisted onboard a submarine; acts as liaison between the crew and the XO.
Collision Mat Pancake.
Condition 1 General Quarters (battle stations). May be modified for certain conditions, such as Condition 1
Condition 2 A condition of modified General Quarters, generally used on large ships.
Condition 3 A material condition of readiness commonly associated with wartime steaming where some, usually half, of the ship's weapons are kept in a manned and ready status at all times.
Condition 4 A material condition of readiness commonly associated with peacetime steaming. There are no weapons in a ready status.
Condition 5 A material condition of readiness associated with peacetime inport status. Other material conditions may be set as needed, dictated by the threat.
Cooky Ship’s cook.
COW Chief Of (the) Watch. (submarine only) Responsible for coordinating shipboard evolutions such as housekeeping, watchstanding, wake
Cox (UK) The Coxswain. The senior rate on a destroyer, frigate, or smaller vessel. Responsible, among other things, for discipline.
CPA Closest Point of Approach. The range and bearing to the closest point of another vessel’s passage, relative to your own.
Crank (1) Temporarily
Crippie Cryptographic personnel.
DC Damage Control.
Deeps (RN) Submariner.
DGUTS Don’t Give Up The Ship.
Dick the dog (1) Screwing around; being unproductive. "When you guys are done dicking the dog, I could use a hand over here."
Dip To lower a sonar transducer into the water from a hovering helicopter.
Dog Watch (1) A shortened watch period. Generally, two two
Dolphins The warfare insignia of the submarine fleet. Aka 'tin tunas', 'pukin' fish'. Represented as two heraldic dolphins flanking the prow of a WW II
EMCON EMissions CONtrol. Various conditions of electronic silence. 'EMCON Alpha' is total emissions silence, 'EMCON Bravo' allows radiation of certain non type
Ensign Locker JO (Junior Officer) berthing aboard ship.
Ex Short for ‘exercise.’ Some forms: mobex (an evolution involving a mob, i.e. poorly organized (or not organized at all)), drunkex (q.v.), borex (a boring exercise), sinkex (an exercise whose intent is to sink a target ship).
Fall of Shot Point of impact of a shell or salvo of shells.
Fart Sack Sleeping bag. (common usage among ground forces of various countries) Can also refer to fitted mattress covers aboard ship.
First Lieutenant (1) (USN) Deck Division officer aboard ship, or officer responsible for general seamanship and deck evolutions. In a ship with a large deck department, especially where it is key to the ship's mission, such as a carrier or amphib, generally the deck department head. As used, it’s an assignment, not a rank. (2) (RN) Executive Officer of a ship, if a Lieutenant Commander or below. (3) A commissioned officer’s rank, O2, in the Marine Corps or USAF/USA. For an officer, one step up from the bottom, rankwise.
Flag An admiral, aka "Flag Officer" because such officers are entitled to fly a flag denoting their rank.
Flashing A navigational light (whether buoy or lighthouse) which is off longer than it is on. See also OCCULTING.
Floor In naval architecture, a horizontal structural surface which does not extend the full length of the ship. Think of it as a deck which does not run the full length of the ship.
Flying Bravo When a woman is menstruating, she is said to be ‘flying Bravo.’ The Bravo alphabet flag is all red.
Foc’sle The phonetic spelling for ‘forecastle’, the forward
Four by Eight the 0400 to 0800 watch.
Fox Oscar Fuck Off.
Gangway (1) Today, more properly called a "brow," the temporary bridge connecting the ship’s quarterdeck to the pier. (2) A call to get out of the way, which originated as a call for junior personnel to give precedence to a senior while crossing the gangway.
Gin Pennant (UK) An unofficial flag flown to signify that a ship’s wardroom has free drinks or a celebration underway. Usually green with a wine or cocktail glass on it.
Give Way (1) An order to oarsmen to begin pulling. (2) In the Rules of the Nautical Road, a ship which must maneuver to avoid another ship is called the "give way vessel." Similarly, it may be used to refer to getting out of someone’s way.
Guard (1) International distress radio frequencies, including 243.0 MHz and 121.5 kHz. (2) To maintain a specific type of listening watch on a radio net or circuit.
Hanging Out (RM) Similar to CHINSTRAP (q.v.), but worse, i.e. 'Hanging out of their arses.'
Head Marine toilet. In its original form, toilet facilities were found right forward in the bows, so that the smell would be blown downwind and away from the ship (since sailing ships could not lie directly into the wind when underway). The extreme fore part of a ship was known as the "beakhead," which may have been shortened to "head" over time.
IFR (1) Instrument Flight Rules. Derisively, 'I Follow Roads'. An FAA
Jack (1) (UK) General nickname for Royal Navy sailors. (obsolete, from 'Jack Tar') (2) The Union Jack, a small flag flown from the jackstaff on the bow of USN ships inport; has a blue field and 50 white stars. It is also flown from the yardarm when a court martial or court of inquiry is in session aboard. (3) To slowly turn the propeller shaft or shafts of a ship when engines are stopped, both to maintain the oil film in shaft bearings and to prevent the shaft from bowing from its own weight.
Jackass A conical bag stuffed into the hawsepipes to stop the entry of seawater. Usually filled with oakum.
Jacob’s Ladder A rope ladder. Some have wooden steps, others have knotted horizontal ropes for that purpose.
Jimmy, Jimmy the One (RN) First Lieutenant of a ship.
Killick (RN, RCN) Leading rate. Often used with the branch name or nickname, e.g. Killick Stoker, Killick Bunting Tosser.
Laundry Queen (submarines) A junior sailor, usually an NQP (especially if he’s DINK) assigned to handle a division's laundry chores.
Liberty Boat Various small craft used to shuttle personnel ashore and back aboard when the ship is anchored out rather than moored alongside. May be operated by a civilian contractor or by ship’s personnel.
Line (1) What mere mortals call ‘rope’, the sailor calls ‘line.’ Small line is called by the number of threads it’s made up of (e.g. 9
Mail Buoy Watch A practical joke pulled on inexperienced crewmembers and midshipmen which revolves around convincing the victim that mail is delivered to a ship at sea via a buoy.
Main Control The engineering space from which the operations of the engineering spaces are controlled. Watchstation of the EOOW.
Main Space Engine room or fire room or, collectively, both/all.
Make Way (1) From the Rules of the Nautical Road, when a ship is making way she is proceeding under her own power, whether by engine or sail (or oars, for that matter). Often confused with UNDER WAY (q.v.); a ship which is adrift (not under power or sail) is under way, but not making way, even though she may be moving with respect to the seabed due to wind and current effects. (2) A command to get out of the way.
Monkey Fist The complex knot surrounding (sometimes taking the place of) the weight on the end of a heaving line.
Mooring Line Lines used to tie the ship to the pier or to another ship. Mooring lines are numbered from forward aft; the direction they tend (lead) is also sometimes given. ‘Number one mooring line’ typically is made fast at the bow, and tends straight across to the pier or other ship. Spring lines tend forward or aft of their attachment point.
Mud Coffee.

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