This FAQ is maintained by Jeff Crowell (email@example.com); web hosting provided by Haze Gray & Underway.
Last Updated 31 October 2003.
--'RN' denotes Royal Navy usage. Similarly, RCN = Royal Canadian Navy, RAN = Royal Australian Navy, RM = Royal Marines, RNZN = Royal New Zealand Navy, UK = general usage in militaries of the former British Empire
--Terms in ALL-CAPS have a separate listing.
--Special note: Since days of yore the military in general, and sailors in particular, have often had a rather pithy (dare I say ‘tasteless'?) manner of speech. That may be changing somewhat in these politically correct times, but to Bowdlerize the sailor’s language represented here would be to deny its rich history. The traditions and origins remain. While I have attempted to present things with a bit of humor, if you are easily offended this FAQ may not be for you. You have been warned.
1MC - The basic one-way communications system on a vessel. Reaches all spaces on a ship. Used for general announcements, and to transmit general alarm system signals. Control stations are located on the bridge, quarterdeck, and central station. Other transmitters may be installed at additional points. There are other MC and JV circuits used for communications within the ship. They are typically system-specific, i.e. weapons systems, navigation communication, engineering systems, firefighting, etc.
130-rpm fish - A form of sea life (type unknown) which makes a sound very similar to a propeller turning at 130 rpm.
90-Day Wonder – Derisive term for a graduate of OCS. The derision arises from the lack of experience and naval knowledge of the typical graduate. Commonly seen as "90-Day Blunder."
99 – (USN aviation) Precedes a radio call which applies to a group of aircraft, e.g. "99 Guntrains" would address all aircraft with a Guntrain callsign.
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.
ABC – Atomic, Biological, Chemical. An early term since supplanted by NBC.
Accelerated Stall – (Aviation) A stall which occurs during accelerated flight, i.e. while the pilot is pulling G’s. Generally a much more violent event than an unaccelerated stall.
Acey-Deucey – Backgammon, a board game traditionally played in off-duty hours.
Acey-Deucey Club – A club for E-5 and E-6 enlisteds (Second- and First-Class Petty Officers).
ACM - Air Combat Maneuvering. Dogfighting practice.
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.
AEF/A – (USN submarine) Auxiliary Electrician Forward/Aft.
A.F.R.T.S. - Spoken as "a-farts", Armed Forces Radio and Television System is a US system providing television and radio entertainment to forces overseas. Recently, the preferred interpretation has become "American Forces Radio and Television Services."
AFFF - Aqueous Film Forming Foam. A fire-fighting agent which is mixed with water and sprayed on flammable liquids fires. Pronounced "A triple-F". Aka 'Light Water' for the foam's ability to float on oil or gasoline. Replaced protein foam. Unlike blood-based protein foam, AFFF is self-healing, in that holes in the foam blanket will close by themselves, preventing reflash.
Afterburner - A system in the engine(s) of many tactical aircraft (and a very few non-tactical a/c such as the SR-71 and U-2) which dramatically increases thrust at the cost of doubling (or more) the fuel consumption. Analogous term in UK-based countries is ‘reheat.’
A-gang - Auxiliaries Division of the Engineering Department. These personnel operate and maintain the ship's auxiliary equipment (air conditioning systems, distilling units, air compressors, etc.)
A-ganger - Auxiliaryman. Member of A-gang.
A-gear - See ARRESTING GEAR.
AGI - Auxiliary, Intelligence Gathering, aka 'Tattletale'. Refers to Russian 'trawlers' (or, more recently, purpose-built ships) stationed off NATO ports and following major fleet units. The AGI’s mission is both intelligence-gathering and providing location (potentially, targeting) data of key targets such as aircraft carriers.
AGL – (Aviation) Above Ground Level. A method of defining an altitude with respect to local ground elevations. The altitude that really matters for safety of flight. See also MSL.
Air Boss – The watchstander responsible for the safe operation of the carrier’s flight deck. His minions direct the placement of aircraft on the deck, monitor the operation of catapults and arresting gear, and direct firefighting efforts if a crash occurs.
Airdale, airedale - Naval aviator, aka 'BROWNSHOE'. Can also refer to any member of the aviation community, officer or enlisted. From envy, often modified by non-aviation types with the adjective "fucking".
Air Start – (1) The process by which a flamed-out jet aircraft engine may be restarted in flight. (2) The process of starting a large Diesel engine using air to turn the engine over. (3) Blowjob.
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.
Airy-fairy – (1) (RN) Fleet Air Arm personnel. See WAFOO. (2) (RCN) Vague or impractical suggestion.
A. J. Squared-Away – The mythical sailor who always has his stuff together.
Aldis – (UK) A handheld signaling lamp.
Alert Five - Aircraft on five-minute alert. This generally requires that the aircrew be seated in the aircraft at all times. There may also be aircraft/aircrews on alert fifteen, etc.
Alpha Mike Foxtrot - Acronym for "Adios, Motherfucker". Polite form: "Adios, My Friend." Also seen as initials, ‘AMF.’
Amateur Night – The day after payday, when nothing seems to go right, especially shipboard evolutions.
Amp Tramp - (RCN) Ship's electrician.
Anchor-faced - (RN) Anyone who is enthusiastic about the Navy.
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.
Andrew (the) - (UK) Nickname for the Royal Navy. Refers to pressgang leader Andrew Miller who, it was said, owned the Royal Navy.
Angled Deck - The landing area of a modern carrier, which is offset 10 degrees to port from the ship's centerline to provide for safe BOLTERs. Aka 'angle deck', 'the angle.'
Angle of Attack – The angle measured between the relative wind and the chord line of an airfoil. Essentially, the angle between the air movement (*not* the horizon!) and the aircraft’s wing. Has a tremendous import in the handling and behavior of the aircraft. Abbreviated AOA. Aka ‘Alpha’, from the engineering notation for AOA. Primarily an aviation term, although it is applicable to other fluid environments such as a ship’s propeller in water.
Angles and Dangles – Operating a submarine at steep angles of ascent and descent, and to perform rapid turns (a submarine in a tight turn will bank in the same fashion as an aircraft).
Anti-Smash Light - The rotating or flashing anti-collision beacon on an aircraft.
AOW - Auxiliaryman Of (the) Watch. Also called 'The Aux'.
ARAB - (UK) Arrogant Regular Army Bastard.
Arresting Gear - Mechanism used to rapidly bring an aircraft to a halt aboard ship or ashore. In field use (ashore), A-gear may be a device as simple as lengths of chain connected to a CROSS-DECK PENDANT (q.v.), though this type of installation is becoming less common. The chain device is usually referred to as 'overrun gear', as it acts to stop an aircraft which is about to run off of the end of the prepared runway surface. Other types of arresting gear, ashore and afloat, involve complicated braking mechanisms.
Arse Bandit – (UK) Homosexual.
Artificer - (RN) Engineering technician.
ASAP – As Soon As Possible. Usually spoken as a word, "A-sap," the first ‘a’ given the long sound.
Ashcan – A depth charge which is cylindrical in shape. See also "TEARDROP"
Athwartships – Moving or placed from side to side aboard ship, or straddling a particular position. At right angles to the ship’s centerline.
At Loggerheads – A serious difference of opinion. A Loggerhead is two iron balls attached by an iron rod, which was heated and used for melting pitch. Sailors sometimes used them as weapons to settle a grudge, i.e. when fighting they were "at loggerheads."
Auto Dog – (USN) Soft serve ice cream, due to its similarity in appearance (at least when having chocolate flavor) to dog feces.
Autorotation – (1) A method of making an emergency landing in a helicopter which has experienced engine failure. Energy is stored in the rotor as rotational momentum, then expended to slow the decent and cushion the landing. (2) Facetiously, a way for a helicopter pilot to keep his hands and feet occupied as he plummets to his death.
AUX - Pronounced ‘ox.’ (1) Verbal shorthand for 'auxiliary', as when referring to a machinery space, 'Aux One'. (2) Alternate form of AOW.
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:
"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 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.
"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).
AWOL Bag – A small canvas or vinyl bag used to carry clothing or personal items while on weekend liberty.
Baby Shit – Yellowish, evil-smelling grease.
Back Afty - (RN) Anything to do with the nuclear power plant or the people who operate it. See NUKE.
Back in Battery - Originally an artillery term for a gun which has completed its recoil/postfiring cycle and is ready to fire again. Common usage now is 'ready to go,' or recovered. Also seen as 'Back to Battery.' "I set my hair on fire last night, but five hours' rack time and I'm back in battery."
Backing – (1) Operating astern propulsion machinery. (2) A change of wind direction in the counter-clockwise direction (as one looks into the wind).
Bag - (1) Get, or collect. "Let's go bag some traps." (2) Stop, or leave. "Let's bag this project."
Ball (the) - The glowing image projected by the FRESNEL LENS. Gives glideslope reference. Short for ‘meatball,’ the term for the red ball of light seen in the old mirror landing system which predated the fresnel lens system.
Ballbuster – (1) Something difficult. (2) A sexually teasing woman.
Balls (or Four Balls) – Midnight, which in the military’s 24-hour timekeeping system may be written as "0000," although writing midnight as "2400" is perhaps more common.
Balls to the wall – Full speed, or maximum effort.
Balls Out – Refers to an early design of engine governor, in which a pair of masses (balls) spun at an increasing rate as engine speed increased. Centrifugal acceleration threw the masses outward, so "balls out" refers to maximum possible engine speed.
Balls to Four – Four to midnight watch.
Balls to the wall – Maximum speed, or maximum effort.
BAM – Originally this term meant Bad-Ass Marine. It has since come to mean Broad-Ass Marine, i.e. a woman Marine. See also BOSNIA.
Banca Boat – Term for any small native craft, especially in the Western Pacific or Indian Ocean/Persian Gulf. ‘Banca’ is literally translated from the Tagalog as ‘boat.’
Bandit – (1) Air contact positively identified as hostile. (2) (RCN) A sailor often in trouble.
Bang Seat - (UK) Ejection seat.
Banjo, Butty – (1) (RN) A sandwich. Also 'sarnie'. (2) (USN) ‘Banjo’ is also a nickname for the F-2 Banshee fighter.
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).
Bar Hog – A woman who hangs out in bars.
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-deck carriers, the barricade was a series of devices rigged during normal landing operations to prevent an aircraft which failed to trap from smashing into THE PACK, graduating from a low barrier which just engaged the landing gear, all the way to a device more similar to the contemporary one.
Basha – An improvised shelter.
Batten Down – Make fast, secure, or shut. Originally, deck hatches did not have hinged, attached covers. Hatch covers were separate pieces which were laid over the hatch opening, then made fast with battens (pieces of timber).
Battle Cover – The steel cover for a port or deadlight.
BB Stacker - Generically, any ORDIE.
Beach – Ashore, or to be put ashore. "He screwed the pooch bigtime and they beached him."
Beagle - (RN/RAN) Wardroom steward.
(On her) Beam Ends – Strictly speaking, when a ship has gone through 90 degrees of roll, where her decks are vertical. In such case a ship would probably capsize (roll completely over). Can be used to refer to extreme rolls, even if less than 90 degrees.
Bearing Drift – The movement, left or right, of the bearing to an object in motion relative to your platform. It is an immediate indication of risk to you—if an object has no bearing drift and range is decreasing, for example, you will collide unless one or another (or both) platforms maneuver (see CBDR). Similarly, slow bearing drift may not indicate a safe condition if the other object is close.
Belay – (1) Stop. (2) Make fast. Derived from the practice of tying a line off (making it fast) using a belaying pin. (3) Disregard, as in "belay my last."
Bells – (1) A system of marking the time aboard ship. Each bell represents half an hour, and bells are rung in pairs, so five bells in the morning watch (0630 hours, or 6:30 a.m.) would be rung as ding-ding, ding-ding, ding. Bells are normally rung over the 1MC during working hours. (2) Speed orders to the engine room, from the days when moving the engine order telegraph rang a bell in the engine room. "Ready to answer bells" means the engine room is ready for maneuvering orders.
Bell Tapper – One who is habitually a few minutes late, especially when relieving the watch.
Beltway Bandit – A company, or an employee of same, located near Washington, DC, which serves the defense industry. Many of the employees are former military personnel or military retirees.
Benny - A treat or reward, derived from 'benefit.'
Benny Sugg – (USN) Beneficial Suggestion program, a program where personnel were rewarded for making suggestions to improve some aspect of military life, usually living conditions.
BENO Box – Patrol station in the Eastern Mediterranean in the ‘80s. Occupied by various Carrier Battlegroups and Amphibious Groups. The BENO Box was notorious for long on-station assignments, during which time there would "Be No Liberty, Be No Women, Be No Nothing!"
Between the Devil and The Deep Blue (Sea) – See "Devil to Pay."
BFM - Basic Flight Maneuvers.
Big Chicken Dinner – Bad Conduct Discharge. In many ways, equivalent to a felony conviction.
Bight – (1) A loop in or slack part of a line. (2) A curve or bend in a shoreline, or a small body of water formed by same.Bilge - (1) The area below the deck gratings in the lowest spaces of the ship, where things, especially liquids, tend to collect. (2) To fail or do poorly. "Poor Smitty bilged the quiz." (3) To name a classmate or shipmate involved in wrongdoing, or to identify a mistake made by someone else.
Bilge Diving – Working in the bilges of a ship, or cleaning same.
Bilge rat – Someone who works in the engineering spaces.
Bin Rat – (RCN) A person who works in Stores (supply).
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.
Binnacle – A pedestal which supports a compass. Typically found next to or in front of the ship’s wheel.
Binnacle List – Sick list; a listing of the names of the men currently in sick bay and unable to perform their duties due to sickness or injury. This list was originally to be found attached to the binnacle.
Biologics – The sounds generated by sea life, when picked up on sonar.
Bird farm - Aircraft carrier.
Birds - (1) Term for the rank markings of a USN/USCGS Captain or USMC/USAF/USA Colonel (silver eagle, O-6 paygrade). (2) (RCN) Punishment consisting of confinement to the ship, base, etc., or sailors under punishment (derived from the slang term ‘jailbird.’) (3) Generic, airplane. (4) Missiles, especially in the surface community.
Birds Free - Permission has been granted to fire missiles.
Birds Tight – Permission to fire is refused.
Bitchbox – (USN) Intercom or amplified circuit used to communicate between spaces of the ship.
Bitching Betty – The (usually female-voiced) cockpit warning system of many aircraft today.
Bitter End – Properly, the free or loose end of a line. Originally, the bitter end of a mooring line was taken to the bitts to secure it.Bittersweet - A radio call signifying that friendly aircraft are in danger from a surface AAW missile launch, or that the presence of friendly aircraft is preventing a missile shot.
Bitts – A shipboard mooring fixture, comprised of cylindrical posts similar to BOLLARDS, mounted in pairs.
Black and Bitter – Coffee, no sugar or cream added.
Black and Sweet – Coffee with sugar.
Black Cat - During World War Two, a PBY Catalina which was painted black and used for night reconnaissance patrol.
Black Cat Merchant - (RN) Someone who is always exaggerating.
Black-Hand Gang - See SNIPE. Older (ca. WW II), less politically-correct form is 'Black Gang.’ Originally, it referred to the appearance of men who had been handling or working around coal, but the term has come to refer to the engine room crew. During WWII, members of the Black Gang were issued black "Dixie Cups" instead of white ones, and were therefore sometimes called "Black Hats."
Black-shoe - Member of the surface or submarine community. Until recently, the only approved footwear for these communities was black in color. More recently, brown footwear is optional, but seldom seen due to tradition.
Black Water – Sewage.
Blank flange - (1) A plate bolted onto an open pipe to prevent flooding or leaks while work is performed on a piping system. (2) Pancakes. (3) Someone who acts like an idiot (aka 'blank file').
Bleed Air – In gas turbine engines, compressed air that is removed (‘bled’) from the compressor section at various points. Can be used for various applications, such as maintaining clean airflow in the engine, anti-icing, air conditioning, or to provide start air to another engine.
Blivet - (1) Traditionally, "Ten pounds of shit in a five-pound sack." (2) A rubber fuel bladder. (3) A modified droptank (may be purpose-built or a field modification) used to haul small cargo, especially in tactical aircraft, or used to haul dangerous or toxic cargo outside of the aircraft.
Bloggins - (RN) The catch-all name. "Ordinary Seaman Bloggins screwed up again." Similar to the USN's "Joe Shit the Ragman" (q.v.), or "Seaman Jones".
Blonde and Bitter – Coffee with cream.
Blonde and Sweet – Coffee with cream and sugar.
Bloodhound – Radio codeword for Mark 46 ASW torpedo.
Blowdown - A generic engineering term which can be used as noun or verb. A cleaning and/or venting process. Some specific applications: (1) A process for cleaning water-sides of a boiler. A top blow removes scum and floating contaminants, a bottom blow removes sludge. (2) To backflush and clean a SEACHEST. (3) The process of removing excess pressure from a system, or venting it completely.
Blue Force - Friendly forces in a wargame exercise.
Bluejacket – See BLUE-SHIRT.
Blue on Blue - A friendly-fire kill. UK term is 'own-goal.'
Bluenose – See ORDER OF THE BLUENOSE.
Blue-Shirt – (1) (aviation) Aviation Boatswain's Mate. During flight deck ops, wears a jersey color-coded blue. Responsible for positioning and chaining down aircraft. Aka 'Chock and Chain boys.' A type of KNUCKLEDRAGGER. Often a non-rated person. (2) Anyone E-6 or below wearing the dungaree uniform, similar to the traditional term "Bluejacket," due to the Navy blue jacket issued with the dungaree uniform.
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-based support in vessels of sufficient size and endurance to do so safely.
Blue Water Ops - Flight operations conducted when beyond range of a BINGO or divert field. At this point it is literally sink or swim for the aircrew--if a successful trap cannot be made, the aircrew will have to eject or bail out.
Boarding Rate - The percentage of carrier approaches that result in successful arrestments. May be counted for a pilot, a squadron, or an airwing.
Boards – (1) (Aviation) Speed Brakes. (2) Shoulder boards (rank markings).
Boat - (1) Traditional term of reference for a submarine. (2) Traditional aviation term used to refer to an aircraft carrier. (3) Any small vessel incapable of making regular independent voyages on the high seas. The traditional differentiator is that "ships carry boats."
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.
BOHICA - Acronym for "Bend Over, Here It Comes Again."
Bollard – A squat cylindrical fixture attached to a pier or quay, with small horizontal horns which are used for tying off lines. Used to secure lines, such as mooring lines.
Bolter - The go-around that occurs when the carrier plane's tailhook misses the wires. Only possible on modern carriers with an ANGLED DECK (q.v.). Prior to the advent of the angled deck, missed wires often resulted in a BARRICADE engagement or a crash into the PACK.
Bomb (The) - (submarines) The oxygen generator system.
Bomber - See BOOMER.
Bonedome - Flight helmet. Aka 'hardhat', 'brain bucket'.
Boom – (1) (aviation) Sonic boom. (2) (USAF) The winged pipe extending aft and below a tanker aircraft. The wings are used to fly the boom into position to connect with the receiving aircraft, then the boom extends to make contact. Offers much higher rates of transfer than that found in the probe and drogue systems common to the USN and all other countries that employ inflight refueling.
Boomer - (1) (Naval) Ballistic missile submarine. Primary mission is nuclear deterrence. May also be seen as ‘bomber.’ (2) (USAF) The operator of the boom.
Boomer Pin – Term for the Deterrent Patrol pin; the device shows a ballistic missile sub launching a Polaris ICBM, with a banner below. After the initial award, subsequent patrols are represented as stars on the banner. May be awarded and worn before the wearer has earned his warfare pin by qualifying in submarines.
Boomer Widow – The wife of a boomer sailor, if she chooses to stray while he’s on patrol.
Boondockers – High-top (over the ankles) black shoes, worn as part of the working uniform.
Boondoggle - Travel which is more fun than functional. Applies to many military schools.
Boresight - (1) A rough method of aligning guns to a sighting system. (2) Excessive concentration on one situation in a time of plenty, i.e. tunnel vision. Aka "Head Up And Locked." (3) (Aviation) A location on the aircraft's datum line, often used as a center point for dogfight radar scan modes, or when telling the RIO to get a lockup, goddammit!, or a radar mode which slaves the antenna scan to the aircraft boresight.
Boot – Rookie or newbie, as in ‘boot Ensign.’ Originated in the habit of referring to a new man as ‘bootcamp,’ rather than by name.
Bootneck (RN) - See ROYAL MARINE.
Boot Topping – The black paint used at the waterline of many warships. Separates the hull paint from the anti-fouling underwater paint.
BOSNIA – Big Old Standard Navy Issue Ass. Refers to the size of the sterns of some (usually female) navy personnel.
Boss – Short for AIR BOSS.
Bosun – The phonetic spelling of ‘boatswain.’
Bosun’s Whistle (or Pipe) – A small metal whistle used to signal the announcement of important messages, or for ceremonial purposes.
Bounce - (1) Carrier landing practice. (2) (older usage) Surprise air-to-air attack by a fighter, usually from above and behind.
Bow Array – (Submarine) That part of the sub’s sonar suite which is located in the bow.
Box the Compass – (1) To name all the points of the compass. (2) To face successively in all directions, as when a ship loses steerage and drifts aimlessly.
Boy Butter – A light tan grease used by weapons types on torpedoes.
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.
Bracket and Halving – A method of correcting the aim of shipboard gunnery. For example, say a SALVO falls left of the target; a "spot" (an aim correction) is made using right deflection, and the next salvo falls to the right of the target. Another spot is applied back to the left, half the amount of the previous correction. In this way, the FALL OF SHOT is walked onto the target.
Brain Fart - Conceptual discontinuity. Loss of the bubble. Polite forms: 'brain fade', 'brain cramp'.
Brass – Officers, especially senior officers.
Bravo Zulu - Phonetic pronunciation of 'BZ' from the NATO signals codes. Signifies 'Good Job' or 'Well Done.'
Break (the) - Maneuver used by pilots of tactical aircraft to slow to traffic pattern speed. Typically, a 180-degree turn to the downwind leg at 4.5-6 G's (depending on speed of entry and type of aircraft).
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.
Brigadier Chief – Senior Chief Petty Officer (who has one star on the anchors of his insignia).
Broke Dick – Non-functional. See ‘TITS UP.’
Brow – The proper term for what is often called the ‘gangway,’ the temporary bridge connecting the ship’s quarterdeck to the pier.
Brown-Bagger – Married member of the crew. Aka "Khaki Sacker."
Brown-Shirt – (Aviation) A Plane Captain, so called because of the brown jersey he wears; a.k.a. "turd shirt."Brownshoe - Member of the aviation community. Refers to the brown boots or shoes which once were worn by aviation personnel with the Aviation Green uniform. Unauthorized footgear for a while, but recently re-approved for all USN service communities.
Brown Water - Shallow water or shallow draft, especially a ship or navy whose ships are not suited to deep (or open) water and deep-water combat.
Brown Water Ops – Naval operations in shallow water, typically consisting of water depths of 100 fathoms or less.
Bubblehead – (1) Member of the submarine community. Frequently modified by members of the surface fleet with the adjective "fucking". See "6 D's". (2) Diver, especially a "hard hat" diver (i.e. a diver who wears the spherical metal helmet of a Navy diver).
Buddy Fucker – Someone who will not stand up for, or defend, a friend or shipmate, or someone who screws over a shipmate.
Buddy Store – A self-contained unit which makes it possible for aircraft not originally designed as tankers to deliver a limited amount of fuel to other aircraft. Buddy stores are hung on wing or fuselage hardpoints.
Buffer - (UK) The senior rate responsible for seamanship evolutions, typically a Chief Boatswain's Mate. According to some, stands for "Big Ugly Fat Fucker Easily Replaced."
Bug – (Aviation) (1) See PLASTIC BUG. (2) A heading indicator on a compass of Horizontal Situation Indicator (HSI).
Bug juice - A substance similar in appearance to Kool-Aid which is served as a beverage aboard USN ships. Its color has no bearing on its flavor. Largely composed of ascorbic acid. Used extensively as an all-purpose cleaner/stripper for bulkheads, decks, brass fire nozzles, and pipes.
Bug Out - 'Getting the hell out of Dodge.' An escape maneuver from an air-to-air fight, generally consists of choosing the proper moment to unload and select ZONE FIVE.
Bulkhead – A naval wall.
Bulkheading - Loudly criticizing a fellow officer.
Bulldog – Codeword for Harpoon cruise missile.
Bull Ensign - Senior ensign aboard. In multi-unit ships, such as a carrier with its airwing embarked, generally each squadron will have its own Bull Ensign.
Bull Nuke - Senior nuclear-trained CPO aboard a sub. Junior in authority to the COB.
Bullnose - A chock placed right over the stem, 'in the eyes' of the ship.
Bullpen - Term for the large antenna arrays associated with a shore HFDF (High Frequency Direction Finding) station.
Bullshit Artist – A glib person, or one who lies.
Bullshitting – Lying.
Bumboat – A supply boat, usually of an unofficial nature. Often purveyors of curios, souvenirs, etc.
Bumfuck Egypt – A (fictitious) bad place to be stationed, or the figurative ends of the earth. Sometimes seen as B.F.E.
Bum Nut – Hen’s egg.
Bunting Tosser, Bunts (RN) - Signals or Radio personnel. The term originates from the use of semaphore flags for visual signals. Analogous USN terms: ‘flag wagger,' 'skivvy waver.'
Buoy Jumper – The sailor who climbs up onto a mooring buoy to attach or remove mooring lines.
Burner - (1) In a submarine, a system that burns carbon monoxide and hydrogen out of the air, converting H2 to water and CO to CO2. CO2 is then removed by the SCRUBBER. (2) In aviation, short for afterburner.
Buster - Aviation term for maximum speed available without using afterburners.
Butt – (1) Cigarette. (2) (obsolete) A wooden cask or barrel. (3) The bottom end of a spar or other object.
Butter Bar – Ensign/Second Lieutenant (O-1 paygrade), so called for the gold bar collar device.
Butt Kit - Ashtray.
By and Large – Colloquial term meaning ‘For the most part.’ Origin of the term seems to be that a ship was considered particularly seaworthy if it could sail both ‘by’ (close to the wind) and ‘large’ (broad to or before the wind).
CAG - Carrier Air Group. Can also refer to the Carrier Air Group commander. Sometimes seen as CAW for Carrier or Commander Air Wing.
Cake and Arse – (RNZN) Derogatory term for an officers’ cocktail party.
Cake Hole – Mouth. Also seen as "snack hole."
Call For Fire – A request for gunfire support.
Call the Ball - A radio transmission to a pilot requesting that he report when he has sighted the BALL during approach to the carrier, or the action of reporting same. Typically consists of SIDE NUMBER, aircraft type (to ensure proper ARRESTING GEAR settings), and amount of fuel onboard in thousands of pounds, e.g. '205 Tomcat ball, 3.5'.
Calve – The process whereby icebergs form, as chunks of ice fall from a glacier into the sea.
Camel Station - Rendezvous point for ships in the Indian Ocean.
CAMS - Central Atmosphere Monitoring System. A mass spectrometer that samples the atmosphere on submarines.
Can – (1) Short for TINCAN. (2) In radio parlance, cans are a set of headphones.
Candy Ass – Someone who doesn’t do his (or her) share of the work. Similar to the older "Feather Merchant."
Cannon Cocker - Gunnery specialist.
CAP - Combat Air Patrol. Usually defensive in nature. There are several types: TARCAP (TARget CAP), BARCAP (BARrier CAP), RESCAP (REScue CAP, i.e. for SAR operations).
Captain's Mast - Non-judicial disciplinary procedure, usually meted out by unit commanders.
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 Table - (RN) A disciplinary hearing. See CAPTAIN'S MAST.
Careen – To lay a ship on its side in shallow water or on the beach, generally to work on the hull.
Carrier Landings – A game involving a long flat table and, generally, a lot of beer. Participants run toward the table and dive onto it face-first. The goal is to arrive safely and not slide off the end. Refinements such as the need to engage "arresting gear" with one’s toes, "crash and smash" teams using pitchers of beer to extinguish post-crash fires, etc., are common.
CAS – Close Air Support. Moving mud to help out the grunts.
Cat – (1) Catapult. (2) Short for cat o’nine tails, a form of whip used to administer a flogging. Generally made up of three short lines, each with three knotted ends, spliced to a short rope or wooden handle.
CAVU - Aviation term, short for 'Ceiling And Visibility Unlimited'.
CBDR – Constant Bearing, Decreasing Range. When comparing another object’s (ship, aircraft, missile, etc.) movement relative to your own, if there is no BEARING DRIFT and distance is decreasing, it’s an indication that collision is about to occur.
CBR – Chemical, Biological, and Radiological (nuclear) warfare.
CERA - (RCN, pronounced 'sarah' or ‘Chief ERA’) Chief Engine Room Artificer.
Cha - (RN) Tea. Also spelled 'char'.
Channel Fever – Anxious to get home, or reach port.
Charlie Oscar - Commanding Officer.
Charlie Sierra – Phonetic abbreviation for ‘chickenshit.’ The unnecessarily thorough enforcement of an insignificant or unimportant regulation.
Charlie Noble – The galley smokestack. The most popular version of the term’s origin is that Charlie Noble was an Admiral who insisted that the (brass or copper) galley smokestack be polished for inspections.
Charlie Time - Assigned time for carrier aircraft to land, generally meant as the time that an aircraft crosses the RAMP. "Your Signal Charlie" means 'commence approach immediately, and land upon arrival.'
Check Valve – Used to describe a person, it refers to one who does for himself, but not others. None of the goodies get past him.
Cheng - CHief ENGineer. Pronounced 'chang'.
Chicken of the Sea - Ballistic missile submarine, or a crewmember of same; the nature of their mission is to avoid detection by whatever means necessary. Their unofficial motto is "We hide with pride." See BOOMER.
Chinese Fire Drill – Any evolution notable for its complete lack of coordination or military smartness.
Chinstrap - (RM) So tired, usually from running, that one's head drops. Any naval personnel are assumed to be 'on their chinstraps' at all times.
Chips – Ship’s carpenter.
Chit – A small piece of paper, often a request for or granting of permission to do something (leave chit, for example).
Chock-a-block – See "Two-Blocked."
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."
Chuffed – (UK) Extremely pleased.
Chunder – (UK) To vomit. Derived from "watch under!"
CINCHOUSE – Commander In Chief of the House, i.e. one’s spouse.
Cinderella Liberty – Liberty where one must be back aboard by midnight.
Circular Run – The result of a malfunction which causes a torpedo to return to its launch point. At least one US submarine was lost to a circular run in WWII.
Circus – In WW II, a fighter-bomber mission whose primary goal was to force the German fighter defenses to come up and engage. Usually consisted of a small bomber force and heavy fighter escort.
CIVLANT (CIVPAC) - Facetious description of one’s next duty station when he or she is leaving the service; CIV = CIVilian, LANT = atLANTic coat, PAC = PACific coast.
Civvy Street – Civilian life.CIWS - Close-In Weapon System, a short-range anti-missile point defense system commonly comprised of a radar system and rotary-barreled Gatling gun. In NATO, the system is the Vulcan Phalanx. A newer version, Goalkeeper, uses the GAU-8 30mm Gatling gun found in the A-10 Thunderbolt for increased range and destructive power. Can have anti-surface modes as well, for use against small craft and the like. Derisive interpretations of the acronym include: 'Christ, It Won't Shoot', and 'Captain, It Won't Shoot,' due to common maintenance difficulties.
Clear Datum - (1) (Submarine) To leave the area where you have been detected (see DATUM). (2) To leave the scene of the crime, especially when liquor and members of the opposite sex are involved, and particularly if the member of the opposite sex in question is a GRONK.
Clankie, Clanky - (RN) Mechanical Engineer.
Clara - The radio call from a carrier pilot on approach signifying that he has not sighted the BALL.
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.
Clobbered - Weathered in, as in "We made a good approach, but the field was clobbered and we had to divert," similar to WOXOF. Can also indicate a radio frequency that is over-used: "The tactical frequency was clobbered."
Cluster Fuck – An evolution remarkable for its significant lack of excellence. Mass confusion and chaos. Similar to a GOAT ROPE, Chinese Fire Drill, etc.
Clutch-Brake – A device used to engage or disengage an engine from a propellor shaft, and to stop the shaft if need be.
CMC - Command Master Chief. Similar to the COB, but for surface, shore, and aviation commands. See also MCPOC.
CO - Commanding Officer. The captain or skipper of a vessel. Generally spoken as 'Charley Oscar'.
Coaming – The raised lip around a hatch. Designed to prevent, or at least limit, water entry.
Coastie – Coast Guard sailor.
COB - Chief Of (the) Boat. Senior enlisted onboard a submarine; acts as liaison between the crew and the XO.
Coffee Mess – An area, usually in a duty or working area, where coffee is made and served.
Coffeepot - Nuclear reactor. Aka TEAKETTLE.
Coffin – Bed. See RACK.
COG/SOG – Course Over Ground/Speed Over Ground, i.e. the actual movements of a vessel with respect to the seabed. The result of the vector addition of ship’s heading and speed through the water, and speed/direction of winds and currents.
Cold Iron – A condition of the ship’s engineering plant where everything is shut down, including not only propulsion systems but also including electrical power generation and hotel services.
CONUS – CONtinental U.S.
Cooky – Ship’s cook.
Cold Enough to Freeze The Balls Off A Brass Monkey – This term has nothing to do with testicles or primates, and a good deal of debate remains to this day regarding the origin of the phrase. In the days of smoothbore cannon, particularly ashore, ready-use cannon balls were stored near the guns. The balls were stacked in a ‘monkey,’ a metal frame which was laid on the deck to help contain the bottom layer of the pyramid of cannon balls. Monkeys were typically made of brass (though monkeys made of rope were used as well). In extremely cold temperatures, the brass monkey shrank more than the iron cannon balls, and the stack of balls would collapse—or perhaps ice which formed under the balls pushed them up enough to break them loose. The root of the debate is whether such an event is possible at all, though the phrase appears to be more a traditional exaggeration than an engineering possibility.
Cold Iron – An engineering term meaning that the entire engineering plant has been secured. Lighting off boilers and getting steam up has always been an involved and lengthy operation, requiring anywhere from an hour to even longer before the ship could get underway; in time of war, being caught ‘cold iron’ could be tactically disastrous. With the increasing usage of gas turbines, this is less of an issue—a gas turbine ship can get underway within minutes if the lube oil systems are warm.
Cold Shot – A catapult shot in which insufficient end speed is generated. The aircraft does not have sufficient speed to fly, and usually crashes. May be caused by steam supply problems or other mechanical difficulties.
Collision Mat - Pancake.
Compartment – A room aboard ship.
Condition 1 - General Quarters (battle stations). May be modified for certain conditions, such as Condition 1-AS, in which all antisubmarine watch stations and weapons are manned, but AAW stations may not be. Modified conditions are used to minimize crew fatigue, which can be a significant factor over a prolonged period at battle stations. Other types of modified conditions include 1-SQ (battle stations for missile launch).
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.
Coner - aka 'Noseconer'. A crew member on a submarine who does not work in the engineering spaces. A non-nuke.
Conformal Array – A sonar array whose transducers are attached at various locations about the hull, rather than being concentrated on one location. See also BOW ARRAY.
Con Level – Altitude at which contrails occur due to condensation or freezing of the moisture in engine exhaust. To be avoided in tactical situations, as they make for easy visual detection.
Conn – Has several uses, all to do with control of the ship. (1) (General Usage) When an officer announces "I have the conn," he or she is then legally responsible to give proper steering and engine orders for the safe navigation of the ship. (2) (Submarines) In submarines, the term used to refer to the conning tower, a structure built atop the hull from which periscope attacks on shipping were conducted. In more modern times, ‘the conn’ refers to the submarine’s control center, an analogous compartment located within the pressure hull. (3) In general, the area of the ship from which conn orders are given.
Conning – (1) Giving orders regarding the maneuvers of a ship. See CONN. (2) (Aviation) Generating a contrail.
Contact Coordinator - (submarine) Senior Enlisted/Junior Officer that mans the submarine periscope during surface operations in order to help track and assess surface contacts.
Control Surface – In aircraft, aerodynamic parts moved to effect maneuvers, e.g. elevators, ailerons, etc.
Corpen – (1) A maneuver of a formation of ships. In its simplest form, ships in a column turn in succession, each at the same point, akin to a column movement of marching men. (2) Course. ‘Foxtrot Corpen’ is the chosen course for flight operations. ‘Romeo Corpen’ is the chosen course for underway replenishment.
Counter battery - Firing on enemy artillery. Doing unto them before they can do unto you.
Courtesy Flush – What someone will ask for if you are stinking up the head.
COW - Chief Of (the) Watch. (submarine only) Responsible for coordinating shipboard evolutions such as housekeeping, watchstanding, wake-ups, etc. Also controls the BCP (ballast control panel) while underway.
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.
Crab, crabfat - (RN) A member of the Royal Air Force. From the light blue color of the uniform, which is the same as that of the grease (known as ‘crabfat’) used on gun breeches, etc., in the RN. Accounts vary, but apparently the grease was called ‘crabfat’ because it resembled in color the ointment used to treat sailors for ‘crabs’ (pediculosis pubis, genital lice), and of which fat was a major constituent.
Cranie - Protective headgear worn by flight deck crewmembers. Incorporates hearing protection and impact protection. May be color-coded like the flight-deck jerseys.
Crank – (1) Temporarily-assigned mess personnel. See MESSCRANK. (2) Penis.
Crash and Dash – Touch and go landing.
Crash and Smash Crew (or Team) - Crash and Rescue personnel. They wear red flight deck jerseys.
Creamed Foreskins on Toast – Creamed chipped beef on toast. See SOS.
Crescent Hammer – Crescent wrench.
Crinkleneck - Small fish that wait for waste to drop from a SCUTTLE or overboard discharge. Derogatory term for officers and enlisted that figuratively do the same.
Crippie - Cryptographic personnel.
Critter fritters - Fried mystery meat.
Cross-Decking – (1) The practice of transferring men or equipment from one ship to another, especially when transferring from a ship returning from deployment to a ship departing or about to depart on deployment. (2) Cross-training in another rate.
Crossdeck Pendant, CDP - The wire (cable) which the hook of a carrier aircraft catches to accomplish an arrested landing. The crossdeck pendant is attached to the purchase cables, which are in turn connected to the arresting engines belowdecks. The CDP is replaced periodically, depending on the number of times it has been engaged.
Crow - The rate insignia of a USN Petty Officer (E-4 through E-6), so-called because of the eagle surmounting the rate chevrons.
Crush Depth – The designed depth at which the pressure hull of a submarine will collapse.
Crusher - (RN) A member of the Regulating Branch, i.e. Naval Shore Patrol.
Cumshaw - Procurement of needed material outside the supply chain, usually by swapping, barter, or mutual backscratching. Often involves the barter of coffee or other food items. Officially frowned upon, but a widespread practice. The word comes from the pidgin English of the old China Fleet for "Come Ashore" money. It was usually anything useless to a sailor or ship, scavenged and saved for trade to locals for the purpose of earning a little extra liberty money.
Cunt Cap – Fore and aft or "garrison" cap, so named because the folds of material at the upper ridge of the cap vaguely resemble labia.
Cut and Run – To leave quickly, from the practice of cutting a ship’s moorings in a hasty departure.
Cut Lights – Part of the array of lights found in the FRESNEL LENS. Originally used to give the CUT SIGNAL. Most common use today is to acknowledge that the LSO has heard the approaching pilot call the ball.
Cut of his Jib – From the days of sail, when individual sails were made aboard the ship and a certain amount of individuality was expressed in the design (shape and size) of the sails. Ships could be, and were, identified by the "cut of their jib."
Cut Signal – (or Cut Sign) (1) (aviation) The signal to pull the throttles back to idle; can be given by the CUT LIGHTS or the classic throat-cutting gesture. In older use, this signal was used when piston-engine aircraft come aboard the carrier. With the straight-deck carriers, an aircraft either trapped successfully or engaged the barricade. (2) The signal to shut down a piece of gear.
Dabtoe - (RN) Surface sailor.
DACT – Dissimilar Air Combat Training. ACM conducted between aircraft of different types. Also seen as DACM. Valuable in that it teaches an aircrew to consider comparative performance points of their aircraft and others.
Datum – (1) A point or location where a submarine has been detected or has made its own detection possible, especially by firing missiles or torpedoes. (2) The horizontal row of green reference lights found on a FRESNEL LENS array, which indicate the optimum glideslope.
DC - Damage Control.
DCA - Damage Control Assistant. Responsible, under the Chief Engineer, for damage control and stability of a ship.
Dead Head – The resistance of a magnetic compass to swinging back and forth excessively; a compass with insufficient deadhead will swing so much (due to normal movement of the ship or aircraft) that it is difficult to steer a course.
Dead Horse - An interest-free loan which is paid off via payroll deduction. Often used to cover relocation expenses, or to pay back a disbursing error which was originally in your favor.
Deadlight – A glass window set in the deck or bulkhead.
Deck – What the civilian calls a floor. See FLOOR.
Deck Ape - Surface fleet personnel, usually Boatswain's Mates, that care for topside gear and equipment. A type of KNUCKLE-DRAGGER.
6 D's - Deep Diving Death Defying (or Dealing) Denizens of the Deep. Term used by submariners to refer to themselves. Often used to detect SKIMMERs by their helpless laughter upon hearing the phrase.
Deeps - (RN) Submariner.
Deep Six – (1) Originally, the call of the leadsman signifying that the water is more than 6 fathoms deep, but less than seven. (2) Euphemism for throwing something overboard. Also seen as 'splash', 'float check', 'float test'.
Deflection – 1) (Gunnery) The adjustment of fire to the left or right. 2) (Aviation) A measure of angle-off between one’s aircraft and the opponent, or the amount of lead necessary to hit a crossing target.
Demurrage – A fine levied for not unloading a ship on time.
Depart, Departure – (Aviation) (1) More properly, Standard Instrument Departure (SID). One of a number of standard combinations of flight profile and headings used to depart an airfield. Used to regularize and speed up an aircraft’s departure from the airfield and its crowded airspace. SIDs are published procedures. (2) Short for ‘departure from controlled flight,’ a regime of flight where the aircraft is uncontrollable. Generally the result of a stall, whether accelerated or unaccelerated. May or may not result in the aircraft entering a spin.
Deuce – (or Ma Deuce) Browning cal fifty heavy machine gun.
(The) Devil to Pay – Originally, the saying was "The devil to pay and no pitch hot." In the old wooden-hulled ships, ‘devil’ seams joined the external hull timbers with the deck planking; there are also references to a devil seam back aft, where the hull timbers join at the rudder post. Seams were caulked or sealed—paid—by jamming oakum fiber into the gaps, then smearing the seam with melted pitch or tar. If one of these seams worked open in rough weather, a great deal of water could be shipped before it was repaired. This term is probably the origin of the terms "hell to pay" and "between the devil and the deep blue sea."
DGUTS – Don’t Give Up The Ship.
DIB - (RCN) Any non-engineering personnel.
Dick the dog – (1) Screwing around; being unproductive. "When you guys are done dicking the dog, I could use a hand over here."
Dickey Front – (UK) The flap in the front of the traditional sailor’s trousers.
Dick Skinners – Hands.
Dicksmith – Hospital Corpsman.
DILLIGAF – Do I Look Like I Give A Fuck? A term indicating sublime indifference to someone else’s plight.Dink - Spoken form of 'Delinquent In Qual,’ pronounced to rhyme with ‘pink.’ Someone delinquent in PQS qualification points. A weekly points goal is typically set by each command that an NQP (q.v.) must achieve. Failure to do so means daily mandatory study hours supervised by the duty Chief.
Dip - To lower a sonar transducer into the water from a hovering helicopter.
Direct Fire – Gunnery and fire control where the fall of shot can be directly observed by the firing unit.
Dirt Sailor – A member of the Navy’s Construction Battalions (Seabees).
Dirty Shirt Wardroom – (USN) A wardroom (officer’s mess and lounge) aboard ship which does not require patrons to be in the uniform of the day, i.e. flight suits or other working uniforms are permitted. The etiquette of the wardroom, which is usually fairly formal, is also relaxed in the dirty shirt wardroom.
Dit - (RN) Short written note.
Ditty Bag – A small cloth bag with drawstring closure; usually used to hold toilet articles and the like.
Dive the intakes - Cleaning engine air intakes, usually by crawling into them.
Dive Planes – The "elevators" of a submarine; movable, horizontal surfaces used to control the dive (pitch) angles. Usually there are two pairs of planes, mounted on bow and stern, or on the fairwater (sail) and stern.
DIW – Dead In the Water. Not making way (q.v.).
Dixie Cup - The USN sailor's white hat. See also WHITEHAT.
Dixie Station - One of the two positions typically occupied by an aircraft carrier off the coast of Vietnam. 'Dixie' was the southern station, tasked with troop support (CAS).
Dobie - (RCN) Laundry. Also seen as 'Dhobi.'
Dobie Dust - (RCN) Laundry soap.
Dockyard Tour - (RN) An excuse to slide away early when at a fleet school.
Dodge City - Diego Garcia island, a British possession in the approximate middle of the Indian Ocean. US military forces also have operated from there.
Dog – Soft-serve ice cream. See AUTO-DOG.
Dog Dish – The white hat worn by junior enlisted personnel. See also DIXIE CUP.
Dog Watch – (1) A shortened watch period. Generally, two two-hour watches, designated First and Second (or First and Last, RCN), arranged so that personnel on watch can eat the evening meal. Usually 1600 to 1800 and 1800 to 2000. Also serves to alternate the daily watch routine so sailors with the midwatch one night will not have it the next time. Origin of term unclear. (2) (RCN) An unpopular watch, usually the 2400-0400 or 0400-0800. See also WATCH.
Doggie Dicks – Breakfast sausages.
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-type submarine, gold for officers and silver for enlisted. "Getting (one's) dolphins"--achieving the status of a qualified submariner.
Donkey Dick - (1) The nozzle of an inline proportioner in a firefighting hose line for AFFF. (2) (RNZN) The inflated tube that holds up the center of the roof of a lifeboat. (3) The protruding sensor boom of the MAD gear aboard the P-2 Neptune and P-3 Orion. Note: this term is also used for literally dozens of other objects in the naval service.
Double Nuts - Aircraft with side number zero-zero. Often the CAG's bird.
Douche Kit – Shaving Gear.
DOW - Diving Officer of the Watch.
Down to the Short Strokes - Nearly done; almost finished.
Draeger Tubes - An older method of sampling atmosphere, in which a hand-held pump is used to draw samples into the test system.
Drifty – A sailor who is not SQUARED AWAY. Probably comes from ‘adrift.’
Drilling holes in the water (or ocean) - Term for miscellaneous underwater operations of a submarine. Also refers to sailing any ship from point A to point B for no particular reason.
Drip - (RN) Complain. "The Chief was dripping about the state of the world."
Droplights - Red lights arranged vertically below the RAMP, on the approach centerline, on the carrier's stern. Used to provide lineup cues for night landings.
Drunkex – Any evolution characterized more by the amount of alcohol consumption than by accomplishment of any goals (other than getting toasted, of course).
Dry Thrust – (Aviation) Thrust rating of an aircraft jet engine without afterburner.
DTG - (1) Days To Go. Short-timer's record-keeping. (2) Date-Time Group, part of the header of a message which indicates the date, time, and timezone of the message's origin.
Duff - (RCN, RN) (1) Dessert. (2) Broken, or useless.
Dumbo – During World War Two, an aircraft (often a B-17) modified for long range air-sea rescue.
Dusty- (RN) Stores rating, especially one concerned with food. More fully 'Jack Dusty'. USN usage, 'Jack o' the Dust.' In its original usage, the ‘Dusty’ was a sailor (Jack, in British naval terminology) assigned responsibility for the bread room, where flour was stowed.
Dynamited Chicken – Chicken a la King.
EAB - Emergency Air Breathing mask. A sealed mask with an airhose and a quick disconnect to attach to the main EAB system. When using this, a crewman is said to be 'sucking rubber'.
EB Green – Nuke duct tape. As provided by Electric Boat (EB) Corporation, green rather than gray.
ECMO – Electronic CounterMeasures Officer, an NFO aboard an electronic warfare aircraft such as an EA-6B Prowler. Aka "Mushroom" or "Toadstool" (i.e. kept in the dark and fed bullshit) due to the poor outward visibility of the after 2 seats in the Prowler.
Eight o'clock Reports - Reports made by all department heads to the XO, who then takes them to the CO. The reports usually consist of equipment reports and position reports, significant events of the day or of the day to come, etc.
ELSA - (RN) Emergency Life Support Apparatus. Consists of a clear plastic hood and an air bottle, used to escape from smoke-filled spaces.
EM – (1) Electrician’s Mate. (2) Extra Mechanic. (nuke) Electrician’s Mates often stand Motor Machinist (MM) watches to support the watchbill.
EMCON - EMissions CONtrol. Various conditions of electronic silence. 'EMCON Alpha' is total emissions silence, 'EMCON Bravo' allows radiation of certain non type-specific emitters, etc.
EMI - Extra Military Instruction. Duties assigned as punishment which are also intended to improve one's military knowledge. Chipping paint would not qualify as EMI, while inventorying the ship's pubs (publications) would.
Ensign Locker – JO (Junior Officer) berthing aboard ship.
Enswine – Derogatory term for an Ensign.
EOOW - Engineer Officer Of the Watch. Pronounced 'ee-ow'.
EOS – Enclosed Operating Space. Space from which engineering spaces are controlled. Generally air-conditioned and soundproofed, the wimps.Essence - Good, pleasant, or attractive. "Having a totally essence time--the weather is here, wish you were beautiful."
Evap - Distilling unit, aka 'the still'. Used to produce fresh water at sea, both for the boilers and for potable usage. For many years, vacuum "flash" evaps were used; reverse osmosis systems are becoming more common now.
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).
FAG - Fighter-Attack Guy. The pilot of an F/A-18.
Fairwater – (1) Submarine) The more modern term for the conning tower of a submarine. (2) A structure on a ship which is designed to deflect or redirect water flow.
Fairwater Planes – Diving planes located on a submarine’s fairwater.
Fake Down – To lay out a line to permit free running while maintaining seamanlike appearance. Generally used for large-diameter lines. The line is laid out in long parallel lines, generally starting up against a bulwark or deck edge and working inboard from there.
Fall of Shot – Point of impact of a shell or salvo of shells.
Fancy Dinns – (UK) Steak and wine night at sea. Usually hosted by the various departments.
FANG – Fucking Air National Guard, or Florida Air National Guard. See also FNG.
Fang Bosun (or Farrier) – Dentist.
Fanny – (UK) A mess tin. Named for Fanny Adams, a girl who was murdered and dismembered about the same time that tinned meat was introduced into the Royal Navy.
Fantail – The aft-most weather deck on a ship, right above the stern.
Fart Sack – Sleeping bag. (common usage among ground forces of various countries) Can also refer to fitted mattress covers aboard ship.
Fast Attack - Refers to submarines whose primary missions are sealane control, anti-shipping operations, anti-submarine warfare, and intelligence operations.
Fast Cruise – A training exercise whereby the ship simulates being underway while remaining tied to the pier. Generally the brow and all shore services are secured and the ship is on internal systems only.
FBM – Fleet Ballistic Missile submarine; an earlier term for a Ballistic Missile Submarine, i.e. BOOMER.
Feather – In an aircraft, to rotate the propeller blades of a stopped engine into the wind. This reduces the drag of the stopped propeller by a tremendous amount.
Feather Merchant – A lightweight, i.e. someone who doesn’t hold up his end, or doesn’t do his (or her) share of the work. An older term, circa WW II, not frequently seen now. Similar to CANDYASS.
FESTA - Fire Extinguishing System, Twin Agent. An installation which pairs an AFFF-dispensing system with a PKP-dispensing system. Often found in engineering spaces. An obsolete term; replaced with TAU (q.v.).
FFG – Guided Missile Frigate. Derisively, "Forever Fucking Gone."
Fiddlers Green – Sailor’s heaven.
Field Day - To scrub or otherwise clean a ship's spaces. Usually ordered when the COB or the XO thinks morale is low.
FIFI – "Fuck It—Fly It." Spoken by the maintenancemen when they can’t find the solution to a gripe, in the hopes that it will fix itself (it never does).
Fig – Spoken form of the ship designation FFG (Guided Missile Frigate).
Fightertown – Miramar NAS, located near San Diego, California.
FIGMO - Fuck It, (I) Got My Orders. "Go away and don't bother me, I’m outta here." (no polite form)
Final Diameter – The diameter of a circle inscribed by a turning ship once it has stabilized in its turn. Smaller than the ship’s TACTICAL DIAMETER.
Fire For Effect – A signal indicating that the correct spots have been applied and rounds are falling on target; the firing battery should begin rapid fire.
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.
Fish – (1) Torpedo. (2) The expendable portion of the XBT (q.v.), a streamlined weight and sensor fitted with a wire dispenser. (3) The sound-generating towed body of a NIXIE (q.v.) installation.
Fisheyes – Tapioca pudding.
Fish Head - (RN) WAFU term for the rest of the RN surface crowd.
Fist - (RN) To make a 'good' fist of something is to do it well. To make a 'real' fist of something is to do it badly.
Five S’s – The tradition steps to prepare for a formation or liberty: Shit, Shower, Shave, and Shine Shoes.
Flag – An admiral, aka "Flag Officer" because such officers are entitled to fly a flag denoting their rank.
Flaming Datum - A burning ship, or a missile breaking water. See also DATUM.
Flashing – A navigational light (whether buoy or lighthouse) which is off longer than it is on. See also OCCULTING.
Flat Top – Aircraft carrier.
Fleet Up – To promote from within.
Flemish – To coil a line on deck so that it can run freely while maintaining a seamanlike appearance. Generally used for lines of small diameter. The line is laid in a flat, close-coiled spiral on the deck.
Flinders Bar – Bar with spherical correcting magnets. Found on a binnacle.
Float Test - Testing the buoyant qualities of unwanted material while at sea. Whether it passes the test or not, it is outta here.
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.
Flotsam – Floating wreckage released from a sunken ship. See also JETSAM.
Flying Bravo – When a woman is menstruating, she is said to be ‘flying Bravo.’ The Bravo alphabet flag is all red.
FM – See PFM.
FNG – Variously, Fucking New Guy, Fucking No Good, Fucking National Guard.
Foc’sle – The phonetic spelling for ‘forecastle’, the forward-most part of the ship.
FOD - Foreign Object Damage. Can be used as a noun ("Look at the piece of FOD I picked up.") or a verb ("Dave FODded his engine last night.") Any object, including people, which might be sucked into, and thereby damage, a jet engine.
FOD Burger – Someone who has become FOD.
FOD Walkdown - (1) Unpopular activity aboard aviation ships where all personnel not on watch line up and walk the flight deck from end to end, picking up any object that might damage an engine or, if picked up by jet blast, an eye. The human broom picking up any and every small item on the flight deck.
Fougasse – The combination of an explosive charge and a container of gasoline. Used as an antipersonnel weapon.
Foul Bore – (1) In gunnery, an unsafe condition where the bore of the gun is not clear after firing. It may be obstructed by a stuck shell casing, an entire round, or other unwanted foreign material. (2) Someone who repeatedly tells uninteresting sea stories.
Foul Deck - A flight deck which is unsafe for landings. May be due to a crash, location of an aircraft, gear or personnel, or the condition of the deck surface.
Foul Deck Waveoff – A WAVEOFF given due to a foul deck.
Foul Line - Painted lines on the flight deck which delineate an area which must be kept clear for flight operations to proceed safely.
Four by Eight – the 0400 to 0800 watch.
Four-ringer - (RN) Captain.
Fox One (Two, Three, Four) - Used to report the launch of a air-to-air missile, from the 'Foxtrot' (F) of the phonetic alphabet. 'Fox One' is a semi-active radar-homing missile, e.g. Sparrow (AIM-7). 'Fox Two' is a heat-seeking missile, e.g. Sidewinder (AIM-9). 'Fox Three' is an active radar-homing missile--either Phoenix (AIM-54) or the AIM-120 AMRAAM missile (the Air Force sometimes uses Fox Three to report firing of guns.) 'Fox Four' is sometimes used derisively to refer to a midair collision.
Fox Oscar - Fuck Off.
Foxtail – A long, narrow cleaning brush.
Fresh Air Snipe - Rates which spend at least some of their time in the engineering spaces, and are members of the Engineering Dept., but do not work solely with engineering machinery. Includes rates such as IC (Interior Communications Electrician) and EM (Electrician's Mate), though nuke EMs are seldom seen outside the plant.
Fresnel Lens – aka The Lens, a gyro-stabilized arrangement of lights that gives a carrier pilot glideslope information during his approach to landing, or when simulating same ashore. A glowing yellow image, 'THE BALL,' is visible to the pilot on approach. A horizontal row of green ‘DATUM’ lights represents the perfect glideslope angle. The ball moves vertically on the Fresnel lens array as the aircraft moves up and down the glideslope; a high ball—i.e. the ball is above the datum lights—indicates that the aircraft is above the optimum glideslope. If the ball is lined up with the datum lights, the aircraft is correctly positioned on the glideslope. The ball appears red if the pilot gets dangerously low. The lens also has red lights mounted on it which can be used to give WAVEOFF and CUT commands. Fresnel lens installations are also found on almost all Naval Air Station runways. A simplified form of the lens is mounted on ships which operate helicopters.
Friday/Sunday Routine - (RN) Field day aboard, followed by CO's rounds. A cake or a couple of cases of beer are awarded to the cleanest mess on the ship.
Fritz – (US Army, Marines) Term for the modern Kevlar helmet worn by US forces, which bears a strong resemblance to the helmets worn by the German military during WW II.
FTN - 'Fuck The Navy.' Term used by short-timers, attitude cases, and sailors having a bad day. Facetiously, Fun-Time Navy.
FTN Space (the) - An obscure, hard-to-get-to space, compartment, or void; used to hide from officers or chiefs. According to legend, some ships have had such spaces which do not show up on the official blueprints at all. Persistent rumors exist of entire, fully-outfitted machinery spaces which do not officially exist on the ship’s drawings.
FUBAR - Fucked Up Beyond All Recognition.
FUBIJAR – Fuck You Buddy, I’m Just A Reservist.
FUF – The complement to the GIB; the Fucker Up Front.
Fun Boss – Person in change of setting up recreational opportunities during a port call or shore det.
G – (Aviation) The acceleration forces felt by aircrews when maneuvering.
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.
Ganked – Stolen. "Hey, who ganked my sandwich?"
Gash – (1) Garbage or rubbish. Also used to refer to any unwanted item. (2) Uncomplimentary term for a woman.
Gate - Aviation term for use of maximum afterburners. Aka 'zone five'.
Gator – Vessel of the amphibious force.
Gator Freighter – Amphibious warfare cargo ship.
Gator Hashmark – A grease stain on one’s uniform, gained by leaning up against or bumping a wire (cable), many of which are found on and about Gators.
Gawkers, Walkers, and Talkers - Off-duty personnel. They can usually be found cluttering up passageways or decks where real work is being done.
Gear (the) - Arresting gear.
Geedunk, Gedunk - (1) Dessert/junk food/candy, or a place to buy same. Aka 'pogey bait'. (2) "Extras" or benefits, awards, ribbons, or medals. (3) Easy or "sweet" duty. Can be used as noun or verb. "Gedunk" may be a corruption of the German "ge tunk", which means to repetitively dip something. This supposedly goes back to when bread was usually pretty stale and its taste could be improved by dunking it in milk. It was carried over to the practice of putting ice cream into soda. Gedunk apparently was first used specifically to refer to ice cream sodas.
Gedunk Medal – National Defense Service Medal. Considered meaningless, it was awarded to anyone who served in a certain time frame during and subsequent to the Vietnam War.
Gethomeitis – The tendency to ignore potentially significant problems when homeward bound.
GIB - "Guy In Back". More common in Air Force usage, refers to the backseater (pilot, non-pilot, or NFO) of a 2-place tactical aircraft, aka ‘the bear,’ or ‘the pitter' (the guy in the ‘pit’). In two-seat USN/USMC fighters, more commonly called the RIO. In A-6's, the Bombardier/ Navigator or BN, even though he sits beside the pilot rather than behind. In S-3 Vikings, more properly an Overwater Jet Navigator (OJN).
Gig – (1) Small boat carried aboard ship, e.g. the Captain’s gig. (2) Demerits, or the act of receiving same.
Gig Line – On a sailor’s uniform, a line formed by the buttoned shirt, a crease on the belt buckle, and the trousers’ fly. If your gig line isn’t straight, you hear about it at personnel inspections.
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.
GLOC - G-induced Loss Of Consciousness. Pronounced 'gee-lock'. Can be induced by magnitude or duration of the G load, the rate at which G's are applied, or a combination of these factors.
GMT – General Military Training. Non-specific training on military matters, often assigned as NJP.
Goat Locker - Chiefs' Quarters and Mess. The term originated during the era of wooden ships, when Chiefs were given charge of the milk goats on board. Nowadays more a term of respect for the age of its denizens. See also MENOPAUSE MANOR.
Goat Rope – An evolution which is going not at all well; disorganized; chaotic.
God Botherer - (RN) The chaplain. Aka 'Sin Bosun', 'Sky Bosun'.
God's G - The acceleration due to gravity.
Goffa - Any non-alcoholic drink (why bother?).
Goffer - (RM) A large wave. Usually shouted as a warning.
Golden BB - That one bullet or shell that ruins your (or your opponent’s) day in a dogfight or when conducting ground attacks.
Golden Rivet - The mythical last rivet which completes a ship. Generally found in the depths of the engineering spaces, a maneuver used to get a female guest to bend over. "And if you look 'way down there, you can see the golden rivet!"
Golden Shellback - One who has crossed the Equator at the International Date Line.
Gong – (RN/RCN/RAN) Medal.
Gonk - (RN) To sleep, perchance to dream. "I think I'll have a gonk before we hit the beach."
Gonzo Station - The rendezvous point for aircraft carrier battle groups off the Straits of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf.
Goofers – See VULTURE’S ROW.
Gopping - (RN) Awful, horrible.
Gouge (the) – (1) Information, or the 'inside scoop'. Aka 'the poop', 'the gen' (USAF). See SCUTTLEBUTT. (2) In older usage, cheating, or, as a verb, to cheat. (3) Easy, as in a class where the prof grades gently.
Grab-Assing – Horsing around, skylarking, etc.
Grannie (or Granny) – (1) A mis-tied square knot. (2) (UK) The opposite of ‘hard charger,’ i.e. someone tentative in thought and/or action.
Group Grope – A disorganized or confused evolution.
GQ - General Quarters. The call for all hands to man battle stations. Often used prepare the crew to react to a potential emergency. For example, a ship will call away general quarters for a major fuel or oil leak in the engineering spaces (to prepare in case a fire results). RN form is Action Stations.
Grand Slam – Radio call for the successful SPLASH (destruction) of an air contact. "Grand Slam with birds" signifies a kill with missiles.
Grannie – (UK) Slow, old, or tentative.
Grape - (1) Easy pickings, esp. in ACM, or a PQS signature obtained from a friend. (2) Member of the flight deck fuels crew, who wear purple jerseys.
Grape Sig - An easy signature on your qual card, generally given in return for a favor. The signature is traditionally in purple ink, and the practice is frowned upon.
Gray Funnel Line - (RN) The Royal Navy surface fleet.
Grease the Skids – Refers to the practice of lubricating the ways (or skids) upon which a ship was built, just prior to her launching. Now used to refer to facilitating something.
Green Board – An obsolete term used in submarines to indicate status of various hull openings, and therefore the ability of the boat to submerge safely. A properly closed hull opening was indicated by a green light. An open, or unsafe, closure was indicated by a red light. The more modern, safer "STRAIGHT BOARD" report came into use because when a sub was "RIGGED FOR RED", red unsafe indications were not readily visible on the monitor panel.
Greenie - (RN) (1) Electrician. (2) Weapons Electrical Branch. (3) A signboard used to track and display landing scores of the pilots of a squadron, the 'greenie board.' (4) A fiber-type scrubbing or scouring pad. (5) Green (solid, not just spray) water coming aboard.
Green Maggot - (RCN) Sleeping bag.
Green Slime – (RN) Member of British Army Intelligence.
Green Water – Solid water (a swell or wave) coming aboard.
Grinder – (1) Obstacle course. (2) Marching ground.
Gripe – (1) (Aviation) A discrepancy noted (on a ‘gripe sheet’) for maintenance action. (2) Tiedowns.
Grog – (UK) Pusser’s rum mixed with two parts water. So called from the name of the officer that regularized the issue of watered rum aboard British ships. Admiral Vernon was referred to as "Old Grog" for his habit of wearing overcoats made of a material called grogram.
Gronk - (RN) Ugly or unattractive, especially a member of the opposite sex.
Grunion – Yard worker. Literally, a species of fish.
Grunt – A Marine. Aka Leatherneck.
G-suit - A piece of gear worn by flight crews in tactical aircraft. Uses compressed air to squeeze the calves, thighs, and stomach to reduce the blood-pooling effects of hard maneuvering. aka ‘speed jeans.’
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.
Gulch – (RN/RCN/RAN) A collection of PITs. Berthing space.
Gun Boss - WEPS.
Gun Busters - (RCN) Naval weapons ratings.
Gundeck - To mark a maintenance or PMS check as complete without doing the work. Aka 'Pencil-whipping,' especially when intentionally falsifying logs or records, filling in the blanks just before an inspection. Aka 'Radioing in' a report. ‘Radioing’ is also used to refer to work that is logged before it is performed.
Gunner - (1) Aviation: the CAG Weapons Officer. Responsible for the air-launched weapons. (2) Surface: Term of address for a Warrant Officer gunnery or weapons specialist.
Gunny - Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant (E-7).
Gyrene – (US) Marine
Hack - (1) Informal confinement to quarters or to squadron spaces. (2) Time check, though this usage is more common to USAF than USN.
Hail and Farewell – A party at which a soon-to-be-detached officer (the farewell) and his replacement (the hail) are feted.
H and I - A military mission emphasizing Harassment and Interdiction of enemy forces and supply routes.
Halfway Party – A party celebrating the midpoint of a submarine cruise.
Handsomely – Executed carefully or deliberately. Does not necessarily mean ‘slowly.’
Hangar Queen – (Aviation) An aircraft that never seems to be in flyable condition, it often sits in a corner and provides spare parts for serviceable aircraft instead.
Hanging Garden – Berths suspended from the overhead in a torpedo room in diesel-electric and older nuke subs.
Hanging Out - (RM) Similar to CHINSTRAP (q.v.), but worse, i.e. 'Hanging out of their arses.'
Hard Deck – (Aviation) A safety altitude (expressed as AGL). If an aircraft breaks the hard deck, it is considered a safety-of-flight violation (a serious transgression). Commonly 5000 feet AGL. See also SOFT DECK.
Hardpoint – Location or locations on an aircraft’s wings and fuselage where weapons or other stores can be hung
Hashmarks – (1) Chevrons or stripes worn on the sleeve to signify years of service. (2) Poop stains on one’s underwear.
Hatch - An opening in the deck, and its closure. Sometimes (incorrectly) used to mean a watertight door, which is mounted vertically in a bulkhead.
Hat Locker – Head.
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.
Heave Around – The order to haul in on a line, wire, or anchor chain, whether with power (windlass or capstan) or by hand.
Heaving Deck - Call from the LSO to a pilot on approach to the carrier that the vertical movement of the deck due to the action of wind and wave is sufficient to be a factor in the approach. Not only may BALL indications be erroneous, but upward deck movement combined with aircraft descent rate may result in damaging impact at touchdown.
Heave Out And Trice Up – Originally, a call for sailors to get out of their hammocks, roll them up, and trice (tie) them to the ship’s rail. Among other things, it reduced the splinters produced when a cannon ball hit the (wooden) rail. Today, it simply means it’s time for a sailor to get out of his or her bunk, making sure it is shipshape.
Heave the lead – To take soundings by throwing a lead weight ("the lead", rhymes with ‘dead’) on a line ahead of the vessel, then pulling the line taut and reading the depth from markers on the line as the ship passes over the weight.
Heave to – In a sailing ship, to come into the wind and essentially stop, with minimum sail area exposed. Used to wait out a squall or storm.
Hell To Pay – See "Devil To Pay."
High Order – In general usage, performing calibration on someone by yelling or other attention-getting activity. Basically, yelling and screaming. Often referred to as "going high order."
High Speed, Low Drag – (1) A HOT RUNNER (a very strong performer). (2) One who does his job with no concern for those around him. (3) An easy job, or one involving a minimum of red tape.
Hi-Pac - High Pressure Air Compressor. Also seen as HPAC, pronounced "aitch-pack."
Hogging – The behavior of a ship where the midships area is supported by the crest of a wave but the bow and stern are less supported due to the troughs of the wave. See also SAGGING.
Hold Down - In ASW, to hold contact on a sub long enough to force it to surface due to battery exhaustion or lack of oxygen aboard. Only applies to non-nuke subs.
Holiday – A "missed spot" in a paint job.
Hollywood shower - An excessively long shower.
Holystone – An abrasive stone, used with water (and, originally, sand), to scrub a ship’s wooden decks. The name stems from the size and shape of the stones, which closely resembled bibles. Generally used by fitting a wooden stick into a socket in the top surface of the stone. Before the advent of the stick, the man using the stone would kneel as if in prayer, aiding in the development of the nickname.
Hong Kong Haircut – Blowjob.
Hook – (1) Anchor. (2) (Aviation) Short for tailhook.
Hook Point - The part of the tailhook that actually engages the wires. It is replaced periodically, as it is worn down by contact with the deck or by field arrestment. Field traps are particularly rough on the hook point, as it is common practice to touch down well prior to the gear and roll into it. As the hook is held down on the deck by a gas-pressurized snubber, wear is accelerated.
Hook Skip Bolter – A BOLTER which results when the arresting hook bounces over the wires.
Hooky - (RN) Leading rate. So called from the fouled anchor rate badge.
Hoover - (1) S-3 Viking, so called for the vacuum cleaner-like sound of its turbofan engines. (2) Any jet aircraft, for their tendency to suck objects and debris up off the ground, but especially a jet aircraft with a chin or beard intake, such as the A-7 Corsair II or F-8 Crusader.
Horse-cock - Sandwich meat, usually served at MIDRATS or during relaxed states of GQ, made with mystery meat masquerading as bologna or other lunch meat. The legendary 'tube steak.' Aka 'cylindrical sirloin', 'fillet of mule tool.'
Horse Latitudes – An area of variable and fickle winds in the region of the doldrums. Sailing ships which were becalmed here often had to throw live cargo such as livestock over the side to conserve water. The bloated carcasses sometimes floated for quite some time, and were often seen by other ships.
Hot Rack (or Rack) – Sharing of beds due to a lack of living space aboard ship.
Hot Run – A torpedo which lodges in its tube when fired, or which activates itself without being fired. A very dangerous situation, as the torpedo’s warhead could easily "cook off" from the heat buildup.
Hot Runner – A high performer, one who consistently does well.
Hot, Straight, and Normal – (Submarine) A report from the sonar operator that torpedoes just fired are running hot (proper ignition of the engine has occurred), straight (not malfunctioning and steering in a circular run), and normal (no unusual noise are being emitted). Originally used to report performance of steam torpedoes, ca. WWII.
Hotel Services – Power, water, and steam used for cooking, heating, laundry, or other non-engineering or non-propulsion purposes.
HPAC – See Hi-Pac.
HS – Helicopter anti-submarine warfare squadron.
HSL – Helicopter anti-submarine squadron (light).
Huffer - A cart used to provide start air to an aircraft.
Hull Down – The term for a ship when viewed at such a distance that only her upper works (structure above the weather deck level) can be seen.
Hull Up – The term for a ship which is sufficiently close that her weather decks may been seen.
Hum Job – Blowjob.
Hummer - (1) E-2 Hawkeye, so-called for the sound of its turboprop engines. (2) Any propeller-driven aircraft.
Hunter-killer – (1) A SAG whose primary mission is ASW; a term coined in WWII. (2) FAST ATTACK sub.
Hydraulic Sandwich – Liquid Lunch.
Idler – One who stands no watches.
IFR – (1) Instrument Flight Rules. Derisively, 'I Follow Roads'. An FAA-defined set of flight rules where the aircraft is under positive radar control. Legal responsibility for safe flight and collision avoidance rests with the Air Traffic Control center, although a certain amount of legal and moral responsibility always rests with the pilot(s). Has nothing to do with meteorological conditions. (2) In-Flight Refueling – q.v.
I&I – Intercourse and Intoxication. A takeoff on R&R
Illuminate, illumination - (1) The targeting of an object with radar, especially for weapons guidance purposes. Differs from 'PAINT' (q.v.) in that painting is generally used to denote detection and tracking, while illumination is generally for targeting and/or guidance of weapons. (2) The lighting-up of an area with flares, often abbreviated 'illum' (pronounced to rhyme with ‘room’).
Illumination Round - Star shell
IMC - Instrument Meteorological Conditions. A set of FAA-defined criteria for inflight visibility.
Indexer – (Aviation) In most common usage, the indicator lights mounted on an aircraft’s glare shield to indicate AOA during an approach to landing. The light array consists of a red ‘fast’ indication (an upward-pointing chevron) at the bottom of the array, a green ‘slow’ indication (a downward-pointing chevron) at the top, and a yellow on-speed indication (a circle) in the center. It is generally only active while the landing gear are deployed. The same light pattern is sometimes echoed on an external array on or near the nose gear, so that aircraft AOA can be determined by the LSO.
Indirect Fire – Gunnery and fire control where the fall of shot is not directly visible from the firing unit. Shell impacts must be observed by someone other than the firing unit, whether an aircraft or a team on the ground.
In-flight Arrestment - Occurs during an arrested landing if the hook engages the CROSSDECK PENDANT while the main landing gear are not on deck. Generally the result of a significantly non-excellent approach or a too-close waveoff, visually it looks like what happens to the running cartoon dog when he reaches the end of the chain. Aircraft damage can result.
In-Flight Refueling – Replenishing an aircraft’s fuel supply in flight. US Navy systems (as well those of numerous other countries) use the "probe and drogue" system where a hose is streamed aft of the tanker aircraft. The receiving aircraft then plugs into the drogue (also called ‘the basket’) and receives fuel. The US Air Force uses the "boom" method, which has a much higher rate of fuel delivery. In this method, the receiving aircraft flies in close formation aft of and just below the tanker aircraft. A boom operator ("boomer") aboard the tanker aligns the boom via control surfaces and plugs it into a receptacle on the receiving aircraft.
Influence Mine – A mine which does not require physical contact to detonate. A magnetic or acoustic mine.
Influence Pistol – An exploder for a mine or torpedo which uses acoustic or magnetic sensing to activate.
INT – Spoken as "eye-en-tee." Short form of the radio pro-word "Interrogative". Also used as a phrase in flag or Morse comms.
Irish Pennant - (1) (RN) Loose mop strings left in the flat. May be seen as ‘Irish Pendant.’ (2) (USN) More generically, any dangling or loose thread on a uniform, or lines left adrift or dangling from the upper works or rigging of the ship.
Iron Lung - (RN) Soda dispenser filled with beer.
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.
Jacking Gear - The machinery used to jack a shaft. May also be used to lock the shaft.
Jack of the Dust – See DUSTY.
Jackspeak – (UK) Language used by sailors.
Jacob’s Ladder – A rope ladder. Some have wooden steps, others have knotted horizontal ropes for that purpose.
JANFU - Joint Army-Navy Fuck-Up.
Jarhead – GRUNT, or Marine. Reportedly, due to the "high and tight" haircut favored by many marines; it looks as if someone put a bowl on the victim’s head and cut or shaved off all the hair that protruded.
Jetsam – Objects thrown over the side to lighten ship. Jetsam does not float. See also FLOTSAM.
Jimmy, Jimmy the One - (RN) First Lieutenant of a ship.
Joe – As in "cup of Joe," refers to coffee. Josephus Daniels, Secretary of the Navy, on July 1, 1914, issued general order 99, which rescinded Article 827. Alcoholic beverages were thereby prohibited aboard ship. Henceforth, the strongest drink to be had was coffee.
Joe Shit the Ragman - The generic US Navy dirtbag or screwup. Also seen as 'J.S. Ragman'. Aka Seaman Jones, Joe/Seaman Schmuckatelli, etc.
Joker – (Aviation) Critically low fuel state.
Joss, Jossman - (RN) Master at Arms. The 'Fleet Joss' was the Fleet Chief Petty Officer Master at Arms.
Judy - Radio call signifying that the fighter has radar contact on the BOGEY or BANDIT and can complete the intercept without further assistance from the controller.
Jury Rig – A temporary fix, or makeshift.
Kapok – (USN) Life jacket, so called for the highly buoyant material originally used for the floatation filling. These lifejackets have an orange canvas cover which leaves nasty stains on white uniforms, even when not covered with grease or other crud.
Keelhaul – Ancient form of punishment from the days of sail, in which a sailor was thrown overboard and dragged under the ship to the other side with a line. Usually fatal, and if not, then causing serious injury due to the barnacles and other hard objects encrusting the hull.
Kevlar – (1) A synthetic Aramid fiber used for body and splinter armor. (2) A type of helmet used by US forces. See "FRITZ."
Ki, kai, kye - (RN) Hot chocolate made from slab chocolate shavings mixed with water into a cloyingly sweet drink. Pronounced to rhyme with 'try'.
Killick - (RN, RCN) Leading rate. Often used with the branch name or nickname, e.g. Killick Stoker, Killick Bunting Tosser.
King Neptune - The mythological God of the Sea. He always presides, with his court, at the LINE-CROSSING CEREMONY.
Kipper – (UK) (1) Obsolete term for torpedo. (2) An Englishman. Also seen as Kipperland, i.e. England or the UK.
Knee-knockers - The coaming of a watertight door or bulkhead opening. These coamings are a foot or so off the deck. So called because they can wreak havoc on the shins of those new to shipboard life.
Knock It Off – (Aviation) The radio call to stop an ACM engagement. May be made for safety reasons, fuel shortage, or because an aircraft has met the kill criteria for the exercise. Any participant (or an observer) may make the call.
Knot – A measure of speed, equating to one nautical mile per hour. "Knots per hour" is incorrect usage.
Knuckle-dragger - Any sailor whose job requires more brawn than brains. See DECK APE, ORDIE.
Ladder – Stairs aboard ship. Found in a "ladderwell" (stairwell).
Lagging – Fiberglass insulation material commonly attached to bulkheads, ducts, and piping.
Lagging Paste – Oatmeal.
Laundry Queen - (submarines) A junior sailor, usually an NQP (especially if he’s DINK) assigned to handle a division's laundry chores.
Lawn Mower - (RN) 'Flashing up a lawn mower' is a term used when a sailor is about to steal away or woo another sailor's companion away. Cutting one's fellow sailor's grass.
Lead (the) – See HEAVE THE LEAD.
Leadsman – One who heaves the lead (q.v.).
Leatherneck – US Marine. Derives from the historical use of a leather collar or stock to protect the neck from saber cuts. Also BOOTNECK (RN), GRUNT, JARHEAD, MUDPUPPY. All terms frequently modified by Naval personnel with the fond adjective "fucking".
Lens (the) - See FRESNEL LENS
Let the Cat Out of the Bag – Originally, this term simply meant to remove the cat (cat o’nine tails) from its baize bag, generally preliminary to administering punishment. The term’s meaning today is to reveal a secret.
Liberty Card – A CHIT granting permission for a junior enlisted sailor to go on liberty. Usually implies that all his assigned work is done and he is not in trouble at the moment.
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.
Liberty Hound – Party animal.
Liberty Risk – Someone with a reputation for getting into trouble while on liberty.
Lifer (or Lifer Dog) – A career member of the service, or one who has been in a long time.
Light Off – Start.
Light Water – See AFFF.
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-thread line); larger line is sized by its circumference (rather than diameter). Traditionally, the PORKCHOP buys rope, but as soon as you cut a piece off of the spool, it is called ‘line.’ (2) The equator.
Line-Crossing Ceremony - The ceremony which turns POLLYWOGs into SHELLBACKs. Enjoyed much more by the Shellbacks than by the 'Wogs. Held when a vessel crosses the Equator. During the ceremony, POLLYWOGS are made to go through a number of ordeals, each more disgusting than the last. These trials are conducted in full view of KING NEPTUNE and his court. Once the ceremony is completed, the POLLYWOG is now a SHELLBACK. Similar ceremonies are conducted for Orders of the BLUENOSE and REDNOSE.
List – The static (at rest) tendency of a ship to lie with her decks not level in beamwise (side to side) aspect, due to imbalances in her loadout or perhaps due to flooding. See also ROLL.
Loadtoad – (1) (aviation) See REDSHIRT. (2) (surface) A small ceramic frog used as a talisman to prevent loss of the load (see LOSE THE LOAD). Similar to the chicken bones used by other rates to ward off evil spirits.
Log Room - An engineering space used for engineering admin purposes, often used as the office for the engineering dept.
Lose the Bubble - Originally, to assume such an extreme up- or down-angle in a submarine that the bubble of the inclinometer is no longer visible. In common usage, to lose SITUATIONAL AWARENESS. See BRAIN FART.
Lose the load – To lose electrical power. Also seen as 'Drop the load.'
LoPac - LOw Pressure Air Compressor. Also seen as LPAC, pronounced "ell-pack."
Loud Lever – (Aviation) Throttle.
Lower Deck Lawyer – (UK) A know-it-all sailor. The US version is a SEA LAWYER.
LPAC – See LoPac.
LSO - Landing Signals Officer. Aka 'Paddles'. A specially-qualified pilot who observes landing approaches aboard a carrier. A pilot's 'passes' (approaches) are critiqued and graded as follows: OK ('okay underline pass') is the elusive perfect pass, and counts as 4 points. OK ('okay pass') counts 3 points. A 'no grade pass' is worth 2 points; A 'bolter pass' (which grade can be assigned whether the aircraft traps successfully or not) is worth 1 point. A 'cut pass' counts zero points and is considered to have put ship, plane, and pilot in danger.
Lubber’s Line – The vertical mark on a compass bowl to mark the ship’s heading. To ‘chase the lubber’s line’ is to be unable to hold a steady course.
Lucky bag - A compartment maintained by the Chief Master at Arms where gear adrift is stored. Personnel can retrieve gear adrift items by working off EMI. If after a period of time the items are not claimed, they are sold with the funds going to the Rec Fund. Also scran-bag (RN).
MAD - (1) Magnetic Anomaly Detector; as in MAD boom, MAD bird. (2) Marine Aviation Detachment.
MADMAN - The call of the MAD operator when his gear detects an undersea object (ostensibly a submarine).
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 and Mend – Originally, a half-day off from normal ship’s work to make and/or mend clothing.
Make a play for the deck - A maneuver guaranteed to attract the ire of the LSO and the BOSS, where the pilot tries to salvage a non-excellent approach with a dive for the deck and the arresting wires. Can result in damage to the aircraft, even a RAMPSTRIKE. Improves the BOARDING RATE but costs at the GREENIE BOARD.
Makee-Learnee – Also seen as make-ye learnee. A term for on-the-job training.
Make Fast – To tie off (a line) securely.
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.
MARDET - MARine DETachment.
Marine Napkin – The flap on the front of the traditional 13-button US Naval enlisted uniform trousers.
Marine Shower – Changing clothes without bathing, usually just applying deodorant. Similar to POMMIE BATH.
Masker - A noise-reduction system in which air is pumped into the water from belts in the vicinity of the engineering spaces.
Matelot - (RN) A sailor. Actually, the word is French and means, literally, sailor. The reason sailors are referred to as ‘mateys.’ Pronounced to rhyme with ‘glow.’
Material Condition Xray - A material condition where fittings or closures (hatches, watertight doors, valves, flappers, etc.) marked with an 'X' ('X-ray, in the phonetic alphabet) must be closed. Generally seen only inport. Surface ships only.
Material Condition Yoke - Closures marked 'X' and 'Y' must be kept closed. This is the normal daylight underway material condition, and represents a minimal condition of watertight integrity.
Material Condition Zebra - All fittings and closures marked 'X', 'Y', and 'Z' must be closed. Maximum watertight integrity. "Set Condition Zebra" is the command to close all water-tight doors, hatches, and fittings throughout the ship. Usually follows the call to GQ.
Material Condition Circle William - A material condition involving ventilation fittings and machinery marked with a 'W' inside a circle. Used to control the spread of smoke in a fire belowdecks, or in preparation for an NBC attack.
Max Conserve - Signal to aircraft to use power levels appropriate for maximum endurance. 'Loiter' is similar, although loitering usually involves staying in one place. 'Max Conserve' more properly applies to an aircraft flying a long-range profile.
Mayday – Distress call via radio, anglicized from the French M’aidez (help me).
MCAS - Marine Corps Air Station.
MCPOC – (pronounced ‘mickpock’) Master Chief Petty Officer Of the Command. Senior MCPO assigned to the unit. Similar to the COB of a submarine.
Meatball - (obsolete) A system in which a red light was reflected off a large parabolic mirror and projected aft to provide glideslope data to the pilot on approach. In common usage today, synonymous with the luminous yellow display of the FRESNEL LENS system which replaced it.
Meet Her – An order to the helm to use the rudder as needed to stop the ship’s turn. Usually followed by an order giving a course to steer.
Menopause Manor - (RN) Chief’s Quarters. See GOAT LOCKER.
MER – Multiple Ejector Rack, a device used to increase the amount of ordnance carried by an aircraft. Allows up to six weapons to be hung on a single set of shackles, depending on weight and other limitations.
Messcrank - aka CRANK. Food service personnel, especially nonrated personnel provided by the ship's other departments (non-Supply depts.) to perform scutwork such as busing tables, washing dishes, etc.
Messdecks – Crew’s eating area.
Mess Mother - (RN) Senior hand of the mess, responsible to the COX'N for the cleanliness and good order of the mess decks.
Mickey Mouse Book - See PIPING TAB.
Midrats - Food served at midnight for ongoing watchstanders, although the oncoming watch section commonly does not get up early enough to partake. Offgoing section gets the remnants, if any. Usually a combination of leftovers, plus something new to round out the service. A contraction of "midnight rations."
Midwatch - A watch stood from midnight (2400) until 4 a.m. (0400). aka "Midbitch," "Midshitter," "Balls to Four," etc.
Mike Mike – Phonetic for ‘millimeter.’
Military Power - Aviation term for maximum 'dry' power, i.e. without afterburner.
Milk Bottle Shoulders – Refers to someone who is unwilling or unable to shoulder responsibility.
Mind Your Ps and Qs – In the past, when sailors were paid and went ashore for liberty, the tavern keepers knew how much they were paid. They’d keep tally of a sailor’s beer consumption by marking up ‘P’ for pints and ‘Q’ for quarts, then settling up with the sailor at the end of the evening. If a sailor failed to ‘mind his Ps and Qs,’ he’d come up short (or perhaps be cut off by the bartender).
MMR - Main Machinery Room.
Monkey dicks – (1) Sausages, aka "poodle peckers", "puppy peters", etc. (2) The "rubber ducky" antenna of a handheld radio.
Monkey on a stick - Derisive term for dish similar to satay chicken, served on skewers, by street vendors in any port of call. In third-world countries, only consumed by drunk sailors and Marines, due to questionable sanitation practices.
Monkey Fist - The complex knot surrounding (sometimes taking the place of) the weight on the end of a heaving line.
Monkey Shit - Room-temperature-vulcanizing packing material (caulking) used for stuffing tubes, etc.
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.
MPA - Main Propulsion Assistant. Division Officer for MP Division, the group that operates and maintains the ship's main engines.
MSL – (Aviation) Mean Sea Level. Altitude expressed with respect to sea level (i.e. pressure altitude). Used to ensure common reference points for aircraft operating in a common area. Altitudes expressed as MSL have no meaning as far as ground clearance is concerned. See also AGL.
Mud – Coffee.
Mud Duck – Shallow water sailor, e.g. Coast Guard. See also BROWN WATER.
Mud Mover – An aircraft used for support of ground forces, or the pilot of same.
Muscle Bosun - Physical Training rating.
Mustang – (USN) An officer who has 'come up through the ranks', i.e. started out as an enlisted man and earned a commission.