Military Terminology, Jargon and Slang

Edited by Jeff Crowell of and used by his Permission

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Vietnam War Era Jargon & Terminology - Off Site | Navy Slang by Jeff Crowell - Off Site

This information is maintained by Jeff Crowell (, note munged address for spam control and adjust accordingly); please send all corrections, comments, additions, etc. to him.

--'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.
--A great deal of variation in pronunciation may be experienced between services or between countries. For example, in the US Navy "ASAP" is spoken as a word, "eh' sap" (eh = long 'A' sound) while the US Army and U. S. Air Force essentially spell the word aloud, "eh ess eh pee."
--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 USN).
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", with long 'A' sound; Armed Forces Radio and Television System, 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. Spoken "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 - (1) Aviation - 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.' (2) A flaming shot which, after being consumed, still has fire in the glass.
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.
AGI - Auxiliary, Intelligence Gathering, aka 'Tattletale'. Refers to USSR 'trawlers' (or, more recently, purpose-built ships) formerly stationed off NATO ports and following major fleet units. The AGI's mission is both intelligence-gathering and providing location (and therefore, potentially, targeting) data for 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 - (1) The mythical sailor who always has his stuff together. (2) A mnemonic taught to Data Processing specialists (now combined with Radiomen to form the Information Technician's rate) as a memory aid for recalling the Hollerith code for computer punch cards. The first zone (12) begins with 'A', the second (11) with 'J', the third (10) with 'S.'
Alaskan Fits (AKA Arctic Fits) - What results when trying to urinate through 6 inches' thickness of clothing with 3 inches of wedding tackle.
Aldis - (UK) A handheld signaling lamp.
Alert Five - Aircraft on five-minute alert, i.e. which can be airborne within 5 minutes or less of the 'launch' signal. This generally requires that the aircrew be seated in the aircraft at all times. There may also be aircraft/aircrews on alert fifteen, etc., in which cases the aircrew may be out of the aircraft but must be nearby.
All Ahead (Flank, Standard, etc.) - A system of commands for ordering engine, and therefore ship, speeds. In the U.S. Navy, the usual increments of the command are: One Third, Two Thirds, Standard, Full, and Flank. Gas turbine ships, increasingly common in the U.S. Fleet, often break 'Flank' speed into further increments: Flank One, Flank Two, and Flank Three. Engine orders for a multi-screw ship name the engines involved ("all," "port," etc.) and the engine speed increment. So a typical engine order aboard an American gas turbine ship might be "All engines ahead Flank One for 25 knots."
All Ahead Bendix - Traditionally, an engine order for "max tracks," i.e. as fast as she can go. The Engine Order Telegraph (q.v.) was traditionally made by the Bendix Company, and was so marked just past the forward end of the annunciator quadrant. Therefore, pushing the E.O.T. annunciator handles as far forward as they would go brought the pointer near the word "Bendix." Actual use of "All Ahead Bendix" tends to irritate the Chief Engineer.
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 - (Aviation) To hold overhead or in the vicinity of a specified location.
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 aircraft 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 - Abbreviated AOA, generally measured and reported in "units," an arbitrary quantity which differs from aircraft to aircraft. AOA is defined as the angle measured between the relative wind and the chord line of an airfoil, in a practical sense it measures how hard a wing is working. Essentially, AOA is 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. 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.
Angle of Incidence - The angle measured between the aircraft's longitudinal centerline and the chord line of the wing airfoil. This value changes throughout the span of most aircraft (see WASHOUT).
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.
AOA -Angle of Attack (q.v.).
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 (i.e. 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 arrestment device (aka "chain gear") 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. Depending on service and country, may be pronounced by being spoken as a word, "A-sap," the first 'a' given the long sound, or essentially by being spelled aloud.
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 longitudinal 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 a pile of 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.
Attitude - Orientation of an aircraft with respect to the horizon.
AUX - Pronounced 'ox', with short 'o' sound. (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 (not in contact with or attached to the ground), 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 additional usage now is to be 'ready to go,' or recovered. Also seen as 'Back to Battery' or 'Return 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 (shifting to the left, 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. Today, the Ball is yellow unless the aircraft is dangerously low, in which case it is red and flashing.
Ballbuster - (1) Something difficult. (2) A sexually teasing woman. (3) A harness used when working aloft.
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 Out - Refers to an early design of engine governor, in which a pair of masses (balls) on a vertical axle spun at an increasing rate as engine speed increased. Centrifugal acceleration threw the masses outward; the faster the engine speed, the farther from centerline the balls, 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, but I do not recommend she hear you use the term. See also BOSNIA.
Banca Boat - Term for any small native craft, especially in the Western Pacific or Indian Ocean/Persian Gulf. 'Banca' is from the Tagalog, literally 'boat.'
Bandit - (1) Air contact positively identified as hostile. (2) (RCN) A sailor often in trouble.
Bang Out (UK) - Eject.
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. (3) During WWII, a device used aboard U.S. submarines as a visual aid during approach to an attack.
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' (note spelling) 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 term for a shipboard barbecue is STEEL BEACH (though, sadly, 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 (due to a defective or damaged arresting hook, damaged landing gear, etc). 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 - Noun or verb, the shore, 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 could capsize (roll completely over). Commonly 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.
Bearing Only Launch - Launch of a weapon with only azimuth data. The missile flies up the bearing line looking for the target, and attacks the first detected object which meets its target parameters.
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 only. (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 involving 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!"
Bent - Radio pro word. Broken, or inoperative. E.g. "My gadget is broken."
Between the Devil and The Deep Blue (Sea) - See "Devil to Pay."
BFM - Basic Flight Maneuvers. Simple maneuvers (turns, climbs, dives, skids, etc.) which can be combined to make up more complex ones.
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, as '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 warfare 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 at a BANDIT.
Bitts - A shipboard mooring fixture comprised of a pair of cylindrical posts. Similar to a pair of BOLLARDs.
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.
Blow Through - (Aviation) Noun or verb, when an intercepting aircraft does not turn to continue the engagement but continues straight ahead. Refusing an engagement.
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 -
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. Very similar to the more 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 or landing aboard cannot be made, the aircrew will have to eject, bail out, or ditch.
Boarding Rate - The percentage of carrier approaches that result in successful arrestments. May be counted for a pilot, a squadron, or an airwing.
Board - Oral examination board.
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."
BOL - Bearing Only Launch (q.v.)
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 generally 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 (q.v.).
Boomer Pin - See PATROL PIN.
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 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! (4) A radar mode which slaves the antenna scan to the aircraft boresight.
Boot - Rookie or newbie, as in 'boot Ensign.' Originated in the practice 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 (above-water) 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 - (1) 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). This maneuver minimizes the amount of time an aircraft spends in the traffic pattern, one of the most dangerous flight regimes. It also maximizes the rate at which aircraft can arrive at the airport. (2) Noun or verb, an immediate, maximum-performance defensive turn designed to avoid a threat, whether missile, gun, or midair collision. If a directive radio call, typically a direction of turn is given as well.
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.
Break Lock - Loss of targeting lock, whether radar or IR. Can be purposeful on the part of the sensor operator, or a result of target maneuvers, countermeasures, etc.
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.
Bruiser - Friendly air-launched anti-surface missile, e.g. Penguin, Harpoon, etc.
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 or 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, and no, I'm not kidding.
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 'burner.
Bulkhead - A naval wall.
Bulkheading - Loudly criticizing a fellow officer.
Bulldog - Codeword for surface-launched anti-ship missile, e.g. Harpoon.
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.
Bullseye - A prearranged positional reference point. Used to make specific location calls without giving that location away to a hostile listener, e.g. "Bandit two four five for fifteen from Bullseye" (translation: confirmed enemy aircraft bearing 245 degrees, 15 miles distant from the prearranged reference point).
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) unpleasant or 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 (q.v.).
Burnthrough - Noun or verb, the point at which a radar overcomes jamming. As long as the radar transmitter is stronger than the jammer transmitter (which is nearly always the case), as range decreases the radar's echoed signals will eventually be stronger than the jammer transmissions. At this point, burnthrough occurs and the radar will once again 'see' the target in spite of the jamming.
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).


Cabbage Mechanic - (RN) Cook.
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 from ground forces for artillery support.
Call the Ball - A radio transmission from a carrier pilot reporting that he has sighted the BALL during approach to the carrier. 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.
Candyass - Someone who doesn't do his (or her) share of the work. Similar to the older "Feather Merchant."
Candygram - Informative call that EW targeting information is available via prebriefed secure radio circuit.
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 sides or end. Refinements such as the need to engage "arresting gear" (typically a power cord) 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.
Cease Fire - Do not open fire, or discontinue firing. Complete intercept if weapons are in flight; continue to track. Contrast to "Hold Fire."
Cha - (RN) Tea. Also spelled 'char'.
Channel Fever - Anxious to get home, or reach port.
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 Oscar - Commanding Officer.
Charlie Foxtrot - Cluster Fuck, i.e. an evolution which has not gone at all well.
Charlie Sierra - Phonetic abbreviation for 'chickenshit.' The unnecessarily thorough enforcement of an insignificant or unimportant regulation.
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'.
Cherubs - Height of an aircraft in hundreds of feet (see also ANGELS).
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 while on patrol, or while enroute to or from the patrol area. Their unofficial motto is "We hide with pride." See BOOMER.
Chicks - Friendly aircraft.
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. Pronounced "sink house."
Cinderella Liberty - Liberty where one must be back aboard by midnight.
Circular Run - The result of a control or gyro malfunction which causes a torpedo to return to its launch point. At least one US submarine was lost to a circular run during 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 coast, PAC = PACific coast.
Civvy Street - Civilian life.
CIWS - Close-In Weapon System, a short-range anti-missile point defense system comprised of a radar system and high firing-rate gun. In NATO, the common system is Vulcan Phalanx, combining Doppler radar and a 20mm Gatling gun. 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 for this notoriously cranky system 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 in sold fuels 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, or in very poor visibility, as "We made a good approach, but the field was clobbered and we had to divert," similar to WOXOF (q.v.). Can also indicate a radio frequency that is over-used, "The tactical frequency was clobbered," or hit well, "Lead, you really clobbered the target on that pass."
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/or to stop the shaft's rotation 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. Very effective in damaging one's shins-see also "knee knocker."
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 speeds/directions of winds and currents.
Coke Syndrome - What happens when a soda (or other drink) spills into a piece of electronic gear, or a keyboard.
Cold - (1) Current intercept geometry will result in a pass or roll-out behind the target. (2) On a leg of the CAP patrol pointed away from likely threats. (3) Group(s) heading away from friendly aircraft. (4) Not radiating.
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.
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.
COMEX - COMmence EXercise.
Compartment - A room aboard ship.
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.
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.
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.
CONUS - Continental U.S.
Cooky - Ship's cook.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Dash - (1) (USN) Drone Anti-Submarine Helicopter, a Vietnam-era remotely-controlled helicopter. The program was canceled for a number of reasons, among them the startling consistency with which the DASH attacked the mother ship. (2) (Aviation) Aircraft in a particular position within a flight, usually followed a numeral to indicate position, e.g. 'Dash 2' is the flight leader's wingman. Used in place of a side number or other callsign.
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.
Delouse - Directive to detect and identify unknown aircraft trailing friendly aircraft.
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 - (1) To lower a sonar transducer into the water from a hovering helicopter. (2) To render and acknowledge passing honors from a merchant ship to a naval ship, by lowering and two-blocking the national ensign. The merchie dips first, and the naval vessel answers dip for dip. Naval vessels do not dip to each other, but man the side to render passing honors to each other. (3) A way of feeding a mooring line from one ship through the already in-place mooring lines of another vessel so that either vessel may remove theirs first.
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.
Dr. Pepper - In aviation, an extremely uncomfortable situation where you have SAM radars active at "10, 2, and 4" o'clock, as in the old advertising jingle for the carbonated drink of the same name. The hazard is extreme because maneuvering to defeat any particular missile of the three makes you more vulnerable to one of the others.
Dodge City - Diego Garcia island, a British possession in the approximate middle of the Indian Ocean. US military forces also have long 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.
Doldrums - Regions of little or no wind near the equator.
Dolphin Code - (Submarines) Similar to USN Aviation's Falcon Code (q.v.), but perhaps a bit more "refined", i.e. less profanity (???). A representative sample (multiple versions exist) is included here as Appendix B.
Dolphins - Submarine qualification insignia of the submarine fleet. Aka "tin tunas" or "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. (4) Fitting at the aft end of a submarine through which the hydrogen effluent from the O2 generating system is discharged overboard. 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."
Drop (number) - (1) Directive to stop monitoring a specified emitter or target and resume normal search. (2) Remove specified track number from tactical picture or track store.
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.
Drop Synch - A condition where the scrambler or other cryptographic gear does not properly descramble a received radio call. To the receiver of the transmission, the result of a 'drop synch' is unintelligible noise.
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.
ELT Math - Rough approximations. Brown-fingered arithmetic, in which 2+3=8 or so. Numbers sanded down to fit a certain block in a log.
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.
Engine Order Telegraph - aka E.O.T., a signaling system for commanding engine speeds.
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.
Falcon Code - (USN Aviation) A significantly obscene form of shorthand used in radio comms to avoid use of profanity (!!!) over the radio. A version (there are many) is included here as Appendix A.
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.
Fanny Adams - (UK) Fuck All, i.e. nothing, zero, etc. See also Sweet Fanny Adams.
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.
Feet Wet (Dry) - Report that an aircraft is flying over water (land).
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 Fresnel lens assembly 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.
Furball - (Aviation) A turning fight in which multiple friendly and hostile aircraft are mixed.


G - (Aviation) The acceleration forces felt by aircrews when maneuvering.
Gadget - Electronic gear. Specific type is generally deduced from context of the radio call, e.g. TACAN, IFF, etc.
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 attainable speed. 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.
Gen - Knowledge, information, or intelligence data
Gethomeitis - The tendency to ignore potentially significant problems when homeward bound, especially in aviation circles.
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) Under the Rules of the Nautical Road, the act of a ship maneuvering to get out of another ship's way.
Give Way Vessel - Under the Rules of the Nautical Road, a vessel which is required to maneuver to avoid another vessel during a crossing, overtaking, or meeting situation.
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 a hostile air track (can be one or more aircraft or missiles). "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.
Greyhound - Friendly ground attack cruise missile.
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.
Halyard - A corruption of 'haul yard,' in modern usage refers to lines used to hoist flag signals on a ship's mast. In sailing ships, can mean lines used to raise a yard (spar) into place, or lines which place and/or hold a yard in a particular orientation.
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.
Hard Right (Left) - (1) (Aviation) Call for a maximum energy-sustaining turn in the called direction. Differs from a BREAK call in that energy is sustained. (2) (Surface) Maximum available rudder in the called direction. Unless applied with caution, can damage the rudder system.
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 their 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." The term originates in the difference between high explosives such as dynamite or C4 (in which the flame propagation is supersonic and the material therefore detonates) and low explosives such as gunpowder, in which the flame front is subsonic and the material "just burns real fast.").
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.
Hoist - (1) A mechanism for delivering ammunition to a gun. (2) A group of signal flags hauled up a ship's mast via halyards.
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.
Hold Fire - An emergency fire control order used to stop firing on a designated target. Requires destruction of any missiles in flight.
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, and length of rollout in field arrestment gear is much longer. 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.
Hostilities Only - (UK) (no longer in use) As compared to RN or RNR, for example. As the name suggests, H.O. ratings were servicemembers whose term of service ended with the cessation of hostilities. Similar to U.S. draftees.
Hot - (Aviation) (1) Attack geometry will result in roll-out in front of the target. (2) A leg of the CAP patrol pointing toward anticipated threats. (3) Group heading toward friendly aircraft. (4) Ordnance employment intended or completed. (5) 'Master Arm' switch is on (i.e. intent to attack).
Hot Pipe - (submarines) To snorkel
Hot 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.
Interrogate - Challenge contact with IFF (using stated mode).
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.).
Leaker - An airborne threat which has successfully penetrated (survived passage through) a defensive layer.
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 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 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 Hound - Party animal.
Liberty Risk - Someone with a reputation for getting into trouble while on liberty.
Liberty Turns - The practice of answering an ordered bell with more than the requested number of turns, in order to get into port faster for some eagerly-awaited R&R, I&I, etc.
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 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.
Make and Mend - Originally, a half-day off from normal ship's work to make and/or mend clothing.
Make Fast - To tie off (a line) securely.
Make Way - A command to get out of the way.
Makee-Learnee - Also seen as make-ye learnee. A term for on-the-job training.
Making 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.
Maneuvering - The Engineering Operating Station aboard a submarine. Aka "The Box."
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.
Mark - (1) A designation system for models of military hardware (see also MOD). Example: Mark 14 torpedo. Also used as a general example: "Mark one, mod zero midshipman" would refer to the typical or common midshipman. (2) A spoken word to designate a specific point in time, e.g. "Bearing, mark!" means to note the indicated bearing at the instant the observer speaks the word 'mark.'
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 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.
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.
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.
Merge - (1) Culmination of an intercept. (2) Point at which two radar blips join and become indistinguishable.
Mess Mother - (RN) Senior hand of the mess, responsible to the COX'N for the cleanliness and good order of the mess decks.
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.
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.
Mod - Modification. Goes with MARK (q.v.) to track revisions or upgrades of hardware. For example, a 'mark ten, mod two' would be an updated or improved version of a 'mark ten, mod one' of whatever was being discussed or described.
Monkey dicks - (1) Sausages, aka "poodle peckers", "puppy peters", etc. (2) The "rubber ducky" antenna of a handheld radio.
Monkey Fist - The complex knot surrounding (sometimes taking the place of) the weight on the end of a heaving line.
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 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.
Morning Prayers - A general term for a regularly scheduled meeting, often a Commanding Officer's briefing.
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.


NAAF - Naval Auxiliary Air Field
NAAFI - (RN) Navy, Army, and Air Force Institute. Provides canteens, shops, and other services to the armed forces ashore and afloat.
NAFOD - (Aviation) Abbreviation for "No Apparent Fear Of Death." What a frightened LSO writes on your grade card. Indicates consistent unsafe practices. Spoken as "nay fod."
NALF - Naval Air Landing Field
NAM - Navy Achievement Medal. Said to be given to SONAR GIRLS for tracking a stationary object.
Nancy Hanks - Directive signal to another unit to establish infra-red communications, or to turn on her POT (Point Of Train) lights to enable infra-red communications.
NAS - Naval Air Station
NATO Standard - (RCN) Term to indicate a large cup of coffee with double cream and double sugar.
NATO Stock Number - NATO Stock Number (NSN) : A number given by NATO to identify a particular part, that is unique and standard to only that particular part, with a description that only God can understand because no man or woman could have come up with such a far fetched description. No matter the size and shape, there is a number. It is a given that what your looking for is usually found after hours of looking up the NSN, beating, yelling, and cursing at the computer, only to have a friend with a horseshoe up his ass find it as you walk away in disgust.
NATOPS - Naval Aviation Training and Operating Procedures Standardization system (pronounced NAY tops) A program of systematized training and procedures development for aircraft and air operations. Can also refer to the specific NATOPS manual for each aircraft type. Developed to improve readiness and reduce accident rates and severity. It has been truthfully said that every line in the NATOPS manual has been written in blood.
Nav (the) - (1) Navigator, or having to do with navigation. (2) The Navy (USN).
Navigator - Officer responsible, under the captain, for safe navigation of the ship. Aka 'Gator', 'Nagivator', 'Old Clueless'.
NavSta - Naval Station.
Navy Brat (or Junior) - One who has grown up in a Navy household.
Navy Shower - A water-saving evolution in which one attempts to get reasonably clean while using as little water as possible. Basically, you wet yourself down, turn off the shower, lather up, then turn the shower back on to rinse off.
NBC Warfare - Nuclear/Biological/Chemical Warfare.
Neats - (RN) Straight rum, as opposed to GROG (q.v.). Also seen as 'Neaters'.
Negat - Spoken or abbreviated form of 'negative.'
NFG - Non Functional Gear. Written on the sides of inoperative equipment as an indication that they should be replaced or scrapped (float tested). Often corrupted as "No Fucking Good."
NFO - Naval Flight Officer. Derisively, Non-Flying Officer.
Nixie - A countermeasure against acoustic homing torpedoes. It consists of a noise-generating body ("fish") towed behind the ship on a long cable.
NJP - Non-Judicial Punishment. See CAPTAIN'S MAST.
No Factor - Not a threat.
No Joy - No radio contact, or no visual contact. Sometimes used to say "it didn't work." Opposite of "Tally."
No room to swing a cat - Originally, this term meant insufficient room to carry out a flogging, which punishment was performed with a CAT. The modern meaning is simply that an area is crowded.
No-Load - 1) A servicemember who does not pull his or her own weight. 2) A test of a catapult system where the cat is fired without launching anything (a dry firing).
Nonskid - An epoxy compound applied to deck surfaces to improve traction for feet and wheels. At the end of a cruise, when a flight deck's nonskid is mostly gone, not to mention oily and/or greasy, taxiing or landing can be even more of an adventure than usual. Usually applied to all weather decks of any ship.
Noseconer - See CONER.
NQP - Non-Qual-Puke. (submarines only) One who has not yet received his DOLPHINS. Also used as a derogatory term for a Dolphin wearer who screws up on something he should have known.
Nub - Newbie, or someone who does not stand watches and is therefore deadweight to the department. Literally, "Non-Usable Body."
Nugget - First-tour pilot or NFO. A diamond in the rough, or at least with a few rough edges. Nuke, nuc - (1) Nuclear-trained and qualified personnel, whether surface or sub. (2) A nuclear-powered vessel. (3) Nuclear weapon, although the term "special weapon" is preferred.
Number 8's - (RN) Action working dress. The equivalent of US dungarees.
Nuts and Bolts - (RN) Stores rating concerned with equipment.


O's - Officers. Pronounced "ohs."
O1 (or 02, 03, etc.) - A paygrade designation for an American commissioned officer. Pronounced oh-1, oh-2, etc. A naval O1 is an Ensign, O2 is a Lieutenant (j.g.), etc.
Oakum - Jute or hemp fiber. Used with pine tar in caulking the seams of a wooden ship.
OBA - Oxygen Breathing Apparatus. An oxygen generating and rebreathing system used for firefighting.
OBE - Overcome By Events. Eaten by the snakes in the cockpit; the victim of task saturation. What happens to the pilot who forgets that his priority of actions goes in the following order: Aviate, Navigate, Communicate.
Occulting - A navigation light (buoy or lighthouse) in which the light is on longer than it is off. See also FLASHING.
OCS - A program which takes in college graduates and turns out commissioned officers. See "90-Day Wonder."
OD - (RN) (1) An ordinary seaman. (2) Derogatory term for anyone acting 'green' (Olive Drab). Frequently modified with the adjective "fucking".
Officers' Country - The area of the ship where the officers live. Generally off-limits to enlisted crew unless they are on duty or on a specific errand.
O-ganger - Officer.
Oh Dark Thirty - Very late at night, or very early in the morning. Aka Zero Dark Thirty.
Oil King - Personnel in charge of inventorying, testing, and bringing aboard petroleum products of various types.
Oilskins - Garments made from cloth which has been made water-resistant by impregnating it with linseed oil.
On Speed - (Naval Aviation) A term meaning that the aircraft is at the proper speed for final approach to landing. Indicated by the INDEXER light array. This speed varies with amount of fuel and ordnance or other stores being carried.
One Way - See "WALTER."
Oolie - (Submarine) A difficult question that may not pertain to one's duties, or one that tests one's system knowledge to the limit. Also seen as Ouly or owly.
OPFOR - OPposing FORce, whether in an exercise or real life.
Oppo - (RN) Friend. Aka 'Wings', 'Winger' (i.e. wingman). c.f. OPPOSITE NUMBER.
Opposite Number - (RN) (1) Anyone carrying out comparable or equivalent duties on another watch or ship. (2) A friend.
Orange Force - Opposing force in a wargame exercise.
Order of the Blue Nose - One who has crossed the Arctic Circle in a ship.
Order of the Golden Dragon - A fraternal order made up of those who have crossed the equator at the International Date Line in a ship. An event similar to a LINE-CROSSING CEREMONY is staged for the victim's benefit.
Order of the Red Nose - A fraternal order made up of those who have crossed the Antarctic Circle in a ship.
Ordie - See REDSHIRT.
ORSE - Operational Reactor Safeguards Examination, a strenuous and exhausting series of examinations, tests, and demonstrations of reactor operating procedures and practices, performed on nuclear-powered ships of the US Navy. Conducted by NAVSEA08, the Nuclear Propulsion group of Naval Sea Systems Command, once a cycle.
Oscar - (1) The dummy used for man overboard drills. (2) The international signal flag hoisted for "man overboard". (3) Phonetic alphabet for "O."
Oscar Brothers - The Commanding Officer and Executive Officer (CO and XO).
Overhead - What a civilian would call the ceiling. Essentially, the underside of the deck above.
Own Goal - See BLUE ON BLUE.


Pack (the) - Aircraft ranged (parked) about the deck of an aircraft carrier, especially forward of the landing area.
Padeye - (1) A recessed tie-down point on a flight deck or a flight line. (2) Almost any anchor point on a bulkhead or deck.
Padlocked - Informative call indicating that aircrew cannot take eyes off a visual contact without risk of losing the contact.
Paint - To track or detect an object with radar.
Papa Hotel - Phonetic pronunciation of the flag signal 'P-H'. Acronym for "all hands return to ship".
Parrot - IFF transponder
Passageway - A hallway aboard ship.
Passing Honors - In a manner similar to two military personnel saluting each other as they pass, military vessels render passing honors. Controlled by whistle blasts passed over the ship's topside 1MC speakers, all topside personnel come to attention facing the other ship, render a hand salute, return salute, and carry on. Just as in a hand salute between personnel, the ship whose captain is junior in precedence initiates the honors, and the senior ship terminates the honors first. Passing honors are also rendered to a ship's boat when the boat carries a ship's captain or flag officer.
Patrol 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 of the Boomer Pin, subsequent awards (patrols) are represented as stars on the banner. May be awarded and worn before the wearer has earned his warfare pin (dolphins, q.v.) by qualifying in submarines.
Paybob (RN) - Supply officer, especially one responsible for accounts.
Paygrade - Alphanumeric designation corresponding to rank (officer) or rating (enlisted). Used to denote pay level or as an analog to rank/rating. For example, O-1 is an Ensign (USN/USCG) or 2nd Lieutenant (USA/USMC/USAF); an E-1 is a Seaman Recruit (USN) or Basic Airman (USAF).
PCD (or PCOD) - Pussy Cut-Off Date. The last date during a deployment in which a servicemember can have sex (and catch a sexually-transmitted disease) and still have it cured prior to his return home. A less-easily determined date since STDs such as AIDS and Hepatitis-C entered the picture.
Peak and Tweak - An activity intended to bring electronics, avionics, or other systems to optimum operating condition. Something the TWIDGETS do.
Peeping Tom - An F-14 Tomcat fitted with the TARPs pod. Reconnaissance Tomcat.
Pecker Checker - Navy doctor or Corpsman. Aka Dick Doc, Chancre Mechanic.
Pelican Hook - A quick-release shackle which can be knocked free with a hammer. Often used to release the anchor when dropping the hook.
Pelorus - A stanchion topped with a gyrocompass, used to shoot bearings to an object for navigation purposes.
Penis Machinist - Hospital Corpsman.
PFM - Pure Fucking Magic. A nontechnical explanation for why something works. "Hell, I dunno how it works. It's PFM."
Pigeons, Pigeon Steer - Heading and distance to homeplate (or other specified destination). "Your pigeons two eight five for 125 miles."
Pigging, pigged - The use of a prepared, expendable ship (manned but with no crew below decks) to run over a mined area repeatedly to trigger influence-type mines. The ship is a 'guinea pig'. An area cleared of mines is said to be "pigged".
Pig of the Port - The least attractive member of the opposite sex brought aboard during a port visit. Awards and honors are often granted, though seldom sought after.
Pig Palace - A bar populated with ugly women, watered booze, etc.
Pilot - (RN) The navigating officer.
Pinkers - (UK) Gin or gin and water/tonic to which has been added angostura bitters.
Pinkie - A landing occurring at first or last light which is generally counted as a night landing (night landings are logged separately).
Ping - (1) To transmit on active sonar, or the sound or signal made by same. (2) (RM) To recognize someone or something. (3) To bounce or wander around aimlessly.
Ping Jockey - Sonar operator.
Pintle - The pins upon which a ship's rudder hangs.
Pipe Down - Originally, a call on a boatswain's whistle sending the crew below. It has come to mean "be quiet."
Piping Aboard - A ceremony where the arrival of a senior officer is signified by the blowing of a BOSUN'S WHISTLE.
Piping Hot - Originally, meals were announced aboard ship by piping (blowing a call on the boatswain's pipe). If a meal is piping hot, it has just been served and is therefore hot.
Piping TAB - On submarines, a book that has all the systems drawn out. Used as a study guide. TAB stands for Training Aid Booklet, and actually there are two, one for piping systems and one for electrical systems. The systems bibles. Aka 'The Mickey Mouse Book'.
Piss - (RAN, RNZN) Beer.
Piss Ant - Yard worker. See also Sandcrab.
Pisscutter - Garrison cap.
Pissed - (1) (US) Angry. (2) (UK) Drunk.
Pissing Contest - A behavior similar to that displayed by two male dogs when they meet. A heated argument.
Pistol - (1) (Aviation) An aircraft gun, whether built-in or carried in a pod. (2) In older usage, refers to the exploder/detonator of a bomb or torpedo.
Pit - (1) (Aviation) The back seat of a two-seat aircraft. Where the GIB sits. (2) (RN/RCN/RAN) Rack (bed).
Pitch - Dynamic movement of a ship or aircraft about a transverse axis, i.e. when bow or nose moves up and down. See also TRIM.
Pit Log - Short for Pitometer Log, a device for measuring the ship's speed through the water.
Pit Sword - The part of the PIT LOG (q.v.) which extends down into the water from the ship's hull and senses ship speed. It works by generating an electric field and measuring its variations, which are proportional to speed through the water.
PKP - Purple K Powder. Potassium carbonate. A dry firefighting agent that chemically prevents combustion.
Plane - See DIVE PLANE.
Plank Owner - A member of the original commissioning crew of a ship. Traditionally, when a plankowner leaves, he is presented with a piece of the wooden decking. Since the advent of all-metal warships, however, a common plankowner memento is a plaque bearing a brass or bronze escutcheon constructed from the machining scraps of the propellers.
Plastic Bug - Derisive term for the F/A-18, due to the large proportion of synthetic materials in its makeup.
PLAT - Pilot Landing Aid Television. Two cameras which record landings aboard the carrier. One is mounted flush in the landing area of the flight deck, one is mounted on the island. Often called upon to resolve pissing contests between pilots and LSOs.
Platform - (1) The station of the LSO, athwart the carrier's touchdown area, outboard of the portside deck edge. (2) A generic name for any ship, aircraft, etc.
Playtime - Amount of time an aircraft can remain on station.
Plimsoll Mark - A mark on the side of a ship's hull which indicates a certain level of loading and, therefore, draft.
Podunk - A small town, or one's hometown.
Pogey Bait - In modern usage, candy or other junk food. See also GEDUNK. Originally, a "pogue" was a young boy or sailor, and pogey bait was candy or other sweet stuff used as inducement for homosexual play.
Pole - (Aviation) The stick or yoke used to control the aircraft in roll and pitch.
Police - Pick up or clean up. 'Policing the brass' would be to shine or clean brass fittings and/or fixtures or, on a firing range, to pick up expended brass.
Pollywog, Polliwog - One who has never crossed the Equator aboard ship and become a SHELLBACK. Aka 'wog'. Frequently modified by the adjective "slimy".
Pollywog Ceremony - See LINE-CROSSING CEREMONY.
Pommie Bath - (RNZN) To change clothes without bathing, simply applying deodorant. Same as a MARINE SHOWER.
Pongo - (RN) Soldier. May be mistakenly used to refer to a ROYAL MARINE.
Pooped - Term used when a wave breaks over a ship's stern.
Poopie Pants - Permanently stained coveralls or dungarees used for performing particularly dirty work.
Poopie Suit, Poopy Suit - (1) Blue coveralls worn by sub crews (and, recently, surface ships) underway. (2) Immersion survival suit worn by aviators in cold-water ops.
Pork Chop, Chop - (USN) Supply Officer. From the resemblance of the collar device (actually oak leaves and three acorns) to a pork chop.
Pork Sword - (RNZN) Penis
Post-Stall Gyration - The behavior of an aircraft immediately following a DEPARTURE; a period of uncommanded (and uncontrollable) roll, pitch, and yaw excursions while the aircraft is deciding whether it wants to fly or not.
Port and Starboard - (1) Watch schedule where one stands 6 (or four or eight) hours on, the same amount of time off watch, then back on watch. Aka "Port and Stupid." (2) Before ships had rudders, they were steered by an oar which was positioned on the quarter. This side was known as the "steer board side" which, over time, was corrupted to "starboard side." For a long time, the other side of a ship was known as the "larboard" side, even into the 1700s. This led to confusion and difficulty in giving orders during storms, etc., where it might be easily confused between starboard and larboard. Since the larboard side was also the side of the vessel which was placed against a pier or dock, it became known as the "port" side, i.e. when you went into port, that side of the ship was against the pier.
P.P.P.P.P.P.P - Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss-Poor Performance (sometimes seen as only 6 P's, which is as above but without the Piss).
PQS - Personnel Qualification System. A method of formalizing and tracking the qualification progress of personnel toward watchstation certification. Often abbreviated as 'Qual System'. Used by all warfare specialties, but has reached its ultimate in the submarine service.
Prairie - A noise-masking system which pumps air out of holes in a screw blade to reduce cavitation noises.
Pressure Hull - The watertight, pressure-bearing structure that makes up the living and working area of a submarine.
Primary Target - The actual blip or 'skin return' signal detected by a radar receiver.
Probe and Drogue - An air-to-air refueling system which involves an inflatable 'basket' (the drogue) which is extended at the end of a long hose trailed by the tanker aircraft. The receiving aircraft maneuvers so that its refueling probe enters the basket.
Procedure Word - Words used in voice radio to standardize and expedite (and thereby shorten) radio communications. Examples: 'over' ("I am finished speaking now, and expect you to reply"), 'roger' ("I understand you," or, less correctly, "yes"), 'out' (perhaps the most misused term in Hollywood, it means "I am finished speaking and do not require an answer or acknowledgement back"). It may be seen that 'Over' should never be used in combination with 'Out.'
Pro Word - See Procedure Word.
Pucker Factor - A measure of the stressfulness of a situation, determined by the amount of muscle tension registered in one's rectum. High pucker factor events are usually accompanied by 'that old sinking feeling'.
Puke - People, or person. "What are those pukes up to?" "He's a drifty puke, isn't he?", etc.
Pull G's - (Aviation) To maneuver in such a way that centrifugal acceleration adds to the force of gravity.
Pumpkin Suit - Orange exposure suit worn by topside watchstanders aboard U.S. submarines.
Punch Elvis - Eject.
Purchase Cable - The part of the arresting gear that connects the CROSS-DECK PENDANT to the arresting engines belowdecks.
Push - (1) Specified radio frequency. (2) (Aviation) Depart designated point.
Pusser, pussers - (RN) (1) Supply officer. (2) Anyone who goes 'by the book'. (3) Of or belonging to the Royal Navy. The term is a corruption of "Purser".
Pusser Neats - (RCN) Royal Navy issue rum, rarely seen but a few bottles still exist. Aka 'Blue Label Rum', 'Instant Stupid.'
Puzzle Palace - (1) The Pentagon or, more generally, headquarters of any sort. (2) (RM) The maze of offices on any UK camp.


Qual Card - A listing of necessary PQS qualification points. Each completed goal is acknowledged by the signature of the appropriate duty Chief or other authorized signer. May be a single piece of paper or a bound book.
Queer - (1) Homosexual. (2) An EA-6 Prowler, or the pilot of same, from the VAQ squadron identifier.


Rabbits - (1) (RN) Souvenirs. (2) Any unofficial job. (3) Hydraulic tracks that move weapons horizontally in a US SSN's torpedo room. (4) (RCN) Items stolen from the ship or shipyard and smuggled out the main gate. Can also mean items bought duty free overseas. Originally referred to actual, live rabbits which were taken by dockyard workers from Whale Island in the UK.
Rack - Bed, especially the combination bed and locker found as enlisted sleeping accommodations.
Racket - An intercepted electromagnetic signal. The term is used in Electronic Warfare.
Rack Time - Sleep.
Radioing a Report - See GUNDECKING.
Raghat - Junior sailor, E-6 (First Class Petty Officer) and below. Refers to the sailor's white hat.
Rain Locker - Shower.
Ralph - Also seen as "looking for Ensign Ralph." Praying to the porcelain god (vomiting). May result from seasickness or from having maximized a recreational opportunity ashore, or a combination of the two.
Ramp (the) - The aftmost edge of the flight deck. Slopes toward the water at about 45 degrees. Aka 'ROUND-DOWN'.
Ramp Strike - Occurs when an aircraft on carrier approach lands short and hits the RAMP. Damage sustained by the aircraft can range from loss of the hook point to destruction of the aircraft. Ship (and personnel) damage can also result.
Ramrod - In WW II, a combined fighter-bomber mission whose primary goal was destruction of a ground target.
R&R - Rest and Rehabilitation.
Range and bearing Launch - Launch of a weapon in which both range and bearing (azimuth) are known.
Rank and File - The generic man in ranks. Comes from the terms for a military formation, where a rank is a row (crosswise) and a file is a column (lengthwise) within the formation.
RAST - Recovery Assist Secure and Traverse. A mechanical aid to landing or moving helicopters aboard a small boy, especially during heavy weather.
Ratbags - Foreign currency. Rate - Job specialization, e.g. GSM (Gas Turbine Mechanic), GMG (Gunner's Mate, Guns), GMM (Gunner's Mate, Missile), AO (Aviation Ordnanceman), etc.
Rat Guards - Circular or conical metal plates attached to a ship's mooring lines to prevent rats getting aboard (or getting off).
Rate Grabber - One who does something he does not rate, i.e. has not earned. An example would be a First Class Petty Officer acting like a Chief! Rating - (1) (USN) Enlisted rank. (2) (RN) Enlisted personnel.
Rattle (in the) - (RN) In official trouble, on report.
RBL - Range and Bearing Launch (q.v.).
RCH - Red Cunt Hair, the smallest unit of linear measurement known.
Recon - (1) Reconnaissance. (2) (US Naval Academy) Spirit-related activities associated with, usually, late-night shenanigans, e.g. "Last night the USNA exchange students at Air Force reconned the Air Force Academy and painted USAFA's Phantom in Blue Angel colors."
Redass - Official flap about something of little consequence. A pain in the butt. "Man, that gender sensitivity training was a real redass."
Red Flag - The US Air Force postgraduate fighter tactics school, based out of Nellis AFB in Nevada.
Red Force - Opposing force in wargames. Sometimes abbreviated as "REDFOR."
Rednose - See
Redout - A condition caused by excessive negative G's. Temporary loss or obstruction of vision caused by too much blood in the retinas.
Redshirt - Aviation Ordnanceman. Wears a red jersey. Responsible for loading and downloading ordnance from aircraft, and other ordnance- handling duties such as assembling and attaching guidance packages. Aka 'ordie', 'loadtoad'. Members of Crash and Smash Team also wear red jerseys.
Red Leg - (Army) A member of the artillery. Comes from the color of the pant stripe and uniform piping in the dress uniform. The other colors are light blue (infantry), yellow (cavalry), and white (engineer).
Reflash - The reignition of a fire, generally due to hot spots.
Reheat - UK term for afterburners.
REMF - Rear Echelon MotherFucker.
Reserve Salute - A shrug of the shoulders.
Re-up - Reenlist.
Rhubarb - Originally, the codeword for a ground attack mission over Europe during WW II, carried out by fighter aircraft-not the favorite mission of the fighter pilots, as the missions suffered high loss rates. Now, the term for an argument or disagreement. Rig for Angles and Dangles - Submarine usage: to prepare for sharp, swift dives, ascents, and turns, or to practice same.
Rig For Red - In submarines, to ensure all interior lighting is red and of low intensity so as to preserve night vision.
Ring Knocker - US Naval Academy graduate.
Ring the Bell - Quit. When a BUD/S (Seal candidate) quits, he does so by ringing a bell in the training compound.
RIO - Radar Intercept Officer, the NFO in a fighter aircraft. Aka the 'GIB'.
Roach Coach - Mobile food vendor's vehicle or gedunk stand.
ROAD - aka 'ROAD Program.' Retired On Active Duty. A (non)work strategy employed by some senior members of the naval service.
Rocket - A letter or memo of reprimand.
Roger Ball - A radio call from the LSO acknowledging the pilot's Ball call.
Rogue's Gun (or Salute) - (UK) The single gun salute fired at the commencement of a court martial.
Roll - Dynamic movement of a ship or aircraft about the lateral axis, i.e. a tilting of the deck from side to side. See also LIST.
Rollers - Hot dogs.
Roll In On - (1) An aviation term referring to the initial maneuver of an attack. (2) To make a play for the attentions of a member of the opposite sex.
RON - Remain overnight.
Rope (vs. line) - Natural or synthetic, woven, braided, or twisted (or some combinations), it is called 'rope' as long as it is on the spool. As soon as you unroll a piece and cut it off, it becomes 'line.'
Ropeyarn Sunday - Early liberty or an early knockoff of ship's work. Refers to the days of sail, when Sunday was generally a day for "make and mend," i.e. personal admin. rather than ship's work.
Rotorhead - Helicopter pilot or crew. Aka "Rotor Maggot."
Round-Down - See RAMP.
Royal Baby - The junior (or, often, the fattest) member of KING NEPTUNE's court. During the LINE-CROSSING CEREMONY, all POLLYWOGS must kiss his belly, which is usually smeared with grease, oil, or salad dressing.
Royal Marine - (RN) British Marine. "Her Majesty's Royal Marines," when they are up and dressed (seldom). Aka 'bootneck', 'jolly'.
RPO - (RN) Regulating Petty Officer.
RTB - Return To Base.
Rug Dance - Quality time spent with a senior officer or NCO, usually in a very one-sided conversation. Typical topics of discussion include one's parentage and probable eventual fate. Aka 'chewing out, ass chewing, etc.'
Running her easting down - Back when measurements of longitude were a chancy thing, or not possible at all, a sailing master would make an offing (get clear of land) by heading West, head north or south to the proper latitude of the destination (since latitude is easily measured directly), then run East again to make landfall. Obviously some areas require the captain to make offing to the East, followed by a homing run West, but the traditional term harks back to the olden days of sail off the coasts of Europe.
RWR - Radar Warning Receiver. A passive electronic warfare threat detector.


Sagging - The condition of a ship in which the bow and stern are supported by wave crests and the midships area is less supported by the trough. See also HOGGING.
Sally Ship - Causing a ship to list by having parties of men run from one side of the ship to the other. When a ship runs aground, a suction often forms between the hull and the sea bottom mud, and sallying ship can break that suction, making it possible to back off of the reef. Somewhat akin to a TRIM PARTY, but for very different reasons.
Salty - One whose level of experience is extreme. One who is "in the know" regarding matters maritime.
Salvo - One or more guns fired together, or the shells which have been fired.
Sandbag - (1) To ask a question of someone to belittle or deride them, or to do something behind their back. (2) To not give 100% of one's abilities; to hang back, or hold back.
Sandcrab - A sideways-walking, scavenging beach creature. Refers to a civilian Naval contractor or civil service.
Sandy Bottoms - (RM) The usual result of making a hot WET (q.v.) with melted snow.
SAPFU - Surpassing All Previous Fuck-Ups.
SAR - Search And Rescue. Pronounced as a word, not initials.
Sarnie - (RN) A sandwich. See also Banjo.
Saunter - Fly at maximum endurance power setting (also seen as 'Max Conserve' (q.v.)).
Scope - (1) The amount of anchor chain which has been paid out. 'Increasing the scope' means to veer (pay out) more anchor chain. (2) The Cathode Ray Tube display for a radar.
Scope Dope - A radar scope, or one who watches same.
Scram - Emergency shutdown of a nuclear reactor.
Scrambled Egg - The gold braid found on the cap brim of a senior officer.
Scran - (RN) General term for food.
Scratch - (RN) The Captain's secretary.
Screaming Alpha (Fire) - A burning human. See CLASS ALPHA FIRE for more detail.
Screw the Pooch - To make a mistake, especially a serious one.
Scrounge - (1) A sailor who is not current on his hygiene quals. (2) The procurement of a needed item through irregular (i.e. usually illegal) means.
Scrubber - (USN Submarines) On a submarine, removes or "scrubs" CO2 out of the air.
Scrubber Load - (USN Submarines) A non-watchstanding crewmember whose only contribution appears to be exhaling CO2 for the scrubbers to work on.
Scullery Slut - (RCN) Junior hands assigned to work in the mess decks (enlisted eating area) to clean dishes, serve the Chiefs, make coffee, etc. Similar to USN 'MESSCRANK.'
Scuttle - (1) A water-tight opening set in a hatch or bulkhead. (2) To intentionally sink a ship or object. (3) To punch a hole in something.
Scuttlebutt - (1) Drinking fountain; Originally, a BUTT which had been SCUTTLED, used to hold drinking water for crew access in sailing ships. (2) Gossip or rumors. Originated from the habit of crewmembers of talking while at the scuttlebutt.
Sea Bat - A practical joke akin to a snipe hunt. If he bites on the joke, the victim usually gets batted on the butt with a broom.
Sea Chest - The cavity inside a SEA SUCTION from which pumps draw seawater, often for cooling purposes.
Sea Chicken - Derisive term for NATO Sea Sparrow. Not the same as 'CHICKEN OF THE SEA' (q.v.).
Sea Daddy - Someone who takes a less-experienced crewmember under his or her wing and expert tutelage. Often, and traditionally, when a CPO takes care of and educates a boot ensign.
Sea Lawyer - Someone who professes to have significant knowledge of the fine points of the rules and regs. This knowledge is often used for personal gain, or to claim why something cannot be done.
Sea Story - A tale of nautical or airborne derring-do. Differs from a fairy tale only in that while a fairy tale begins "Once upon a time," a sea story begins either "There I was," (aviation version) or "This is no shit," (seaborne version).
Sea Suction - Underwater opening in a ship's hull. May be several feet in diameter. Usually fitted with a grating to prevent the entry of large, unwanted objects such as divers and other sea life.
Semi - (UK) A member of the USN, or more generally, things American, e.g. "that semi destroyer." Originated in the proliferation of semi-automatic gear in the post-WWII US Navy, especially things that did not work so well. Pronounced "sem-eye."
Semi-Active Homing - A type of radar missile homing where the launch platform provides radar transmissions and the missile homes in on the radar energy reflected off of the target. Abbreviated as 'SAH.'
Set and Drift - Refers to the behavior of a ship under the influence of wind and current; both deflect the ship from its intended course. 'Set' is the direction of that deflection, and 'drift' is the speed in knots of the displacement. A vector.
Sewer pipe - Submarine.
Shaft Alley - Engineering space aft of engine rooms, where propeller shafts pierce the hull. Location of shaft seals, etc.
Shellback - One who has crossed the Equator. Frequently modified with the adjective "trusty".
Shellback Ceremony - See LINE-CROSSING CEREMONY.
Shift Colors - When a ship moors, the national colors are broken on the stern, the Jack is broken on the bow, and the national colors ("steaming colors") are hauled down at the masthead, all at the instant the first line goes over. When the ship gets underway, as soon as the last line is cast off the dock, the Jack and colors are struck at bow and stern while the steaming colors are broken at the masthead.
Ship Over - Re-enlist.
Ship's Company - Refers to the officers and men assigned to the ship, as separate from the AIRWING.
Shipshape - Also seen as "Shipshape and Bristol fashion." The desired condition of any ship or unit; the maintenance of seamanlike appearance. Every piece of gear stowed neatly, "a place for everything, and everything in its place."
Shitbird - A screwed-up person.
Shitcan - Trash can, or when used as a verb, to throw something away. Can be used to refer to people: "He was a dirtbag, so we shitcanned him to Surface Line."
Shit In It - (UK) Leave it alone.
Shitfaced - (1) Drunk. (2) (UK) Angry.
Shitters - (1) (UK) Just about anything, but especially any liquids or chemicals, used in cleaning the head. (2) The toilets, as opposed to the Pissers (urinals).
Shitting - Lying to, or attempting to con, someone. "Are you shitting me?"
Shonky - (RNZN) Not particularly well; not well rehearsed, not familiar with.
Shooter - (1) The catapult officer. The one who directs the firing of the catapult. (2) A unit (aircraft or ship) that is launching, or is about to launch, ordnance.
Shore Up - To brace with timbers or other objects, as might be done with a damaged bulkhead.
Shoring - The materials used to shore up something.
Short - (or short-timer) Someone whose rotation or transfer date is rapidly approaching. Can lead to usage of the term 'FIGMO.'
Short-Arm Inspection - VD check. The sailors lined up after a port call and the doc took a look. Really.
Short Timer - One whose enlistment is nearly up.
Short-Timer's Chain - A length of chain carried by a short-timer, where the number of links equals the number of days remaining before discharge. Each day, the short-timer cuts off another link.
Shot - (1) (Artillery, NGFS) A radio call that a round has been fired. See also SPLASH. (2) A unit of measure for anchor chain. In this usage, a shot is 15 fathoms (90 feet). (3) (archaic) A unit of measure equaling a league (3 nautical miles). This appears to be the origin of the convention that a country's territorial waters extend 3 miles out from its shores-a country was able to claim what it could control with its guns. That is probably also the origin of the term itself-"gunshot" or "cannon shot" became simply "shot."
Shotgun - Prebriefed weapons state at which separation or BUGOUT should begin. The idea is to retain some weapons to fight your way home if necessary.
Shot Line - The line fired from a line throwing gun; used to put lines over for UNREP or when coming alongside the pier. The shot line is small-diameter line to which successively heavier lines are attached so that they may be hauled over to the receiving ship or pier.
Show a Leg - The traditional call made at reveille, it originated in the days of sail when women were let aboard ship. At reveille, a woman in her hammock would display a leg and thereby was not required to turn out.
Side Number - Numbers painted on the nose of an aircraft to serialize it as to type and squadron. 1XX and 2XX are fighters. 3XX and 4XX are attack aircraft. 5XX is the EW (EA-6 Prowler) detachment, 6XX is the E-2 Hawkeye detachment, and 7XX is the ASW (Viking) squadron.
Sierra Hotel - From the phonetic alphabet for SH, the polite form of 'Shit Hot'. Excellent, aggressive, skilled, etc. "Man, that was a sierra hotel takeoff."
Sippers - (RN) Drinks, usually containing alcohol.
Situational Awareness - Especially in aviation, one's awareness of the surroundings, circumstances, and tactical situation, though it is used in all warfare communities. Loss of situational awareness is often fatal in combat, and can be fatal at other times as well.
Skate - (RCN) One who avoids work. See BANDIT. Also, to get out of something, e.g. work.
Skimmer - A surface ship, or officers/crew of same. Frequently modified with the adjective "fucking" by members of the submarine community.
Skin Return - Radar signal energy reflected off an object.
Skipper - Commanding Officer. Apparently from the Dutch "Schipper,", which means, essentially, "he who ships."
Skive Artist - (RCN) One who avoids work.
Skivvy Waver - Signalman. See BUNTING TOSSER.
Skivvy Folder - Parachute rigger.
Skosh - Pronounced with a long 'o'. From the Japanese sukoshi, literally 'small' or 'little'. The F-5 was long known as the Skoshi Tiger. (1) Little or low, as in "They better get that foul deck cleared; Dave's coming in skosh fuel." (2) Fast, or quickly, as in "We need to get this job done most skosh."
Skunk - The name label used for surface radar contacts. "Skunk Alpha" refers to the first new radar contact of the day, "Skunk Bravo" the second, etc. If you go through the alphabet, you start doubling (or tripling), i.e. "Skunk Alpha Delta" would be the 30th contact of the day.
Skylarking - Horsing around, goofing off, etc.
Slammer - The AIM-120 AMRAAM missile, which is in service but has not been assigned an official name, although 'Bounty Hunter' appears in some early Hughes Missile Systems documents.
Slapshot - Directive for a BOL (q.v.) HARM shot against a specified threat.
Sleeping Dictionary - A member of the local population who teaches a sailor the local language (among other things), usually in exchange for room and board.
Sliders - (1) Hamburgers. So greasy, they "slide". (2) (RN) Those who leave work early, either by departments or individually.
Sliders with lids - Cheeseburgers.
Slops - (RN) Uniforms and other official clothing for sale. The 'slop chit' is the authorization to obtain clothing from stores. Derived from the old terms sloppe or slype, which meant ill-fitting or loose clothing.
Sloshy - (RN) The cook, or the cook's helper.
Slush Fund - The money accumulated by the ship's cook through the sale of slush, the salty fat which collected during the boiling of salt meat aboard ship. The sailors used the slush on their biscuits, and the cook got to keep the money.
Small boy - Frigate or destroyer.
Smart Money - Money paid to a sailor who has a Smart Ticket (Smart Certificate), which was issued to a man who had been injured or wounded in the performance of his duty.
Smoking Lamp - From the square-rigger days, a lamp from which personnel could light their pipes or cigars. In contemporary usage, signifies whether smoking is permitted or not. If the smoking lamp is out, no smoking is permitted.
Snack Hole - See CAKE HOLE.
SNAFU - Situation Normal, All Fucked Up.
Snake-eater - SEAL's and other Special Forces personnel.
Snake Ranch - A house rented by a group of bachelors.
Snidget - A member of engineering department who works on electronics, literally a "Snipe Twidget."
Snipe - Crew members in the engineering rates; someone who works in the engineering spaces and seldom is seen topside when underway. MM's (Machinist's Mates) and BT's (Boiler Technicians) are ultimate snipes. In today's modern gas turbine fleet, also includes GSM (Gas Turbine Specialist, Mechanic), GSE (Gas Turbine Specialist, Electrician), and EN (Engineman). It is believed that true snipes cannot stand direct sunlight or fresh air, must have machine oil in their coffee in order to survive, and get nosebleeds at altitudes above the waterline. It is also firmly believed that fresh-air sailors who venture into SNIPE COUNTRY are never seen again. Aka BLACK-HAND GANG (RN), BLACK GANG. See STOKER (RN).
Snipe Country - The engineering spaces, bilges, and voids where the snipes dwell. Considered to be extremely dangerous territory for non-snipes. "The snipes will get you" is commonly used to deter sailors from going too far below decks.
Sniper - Directive for an aircraft to take an RBL (q.v.) HARM shot against the designated threat.
Snivel - (1) A request that one not be assigned a watch or other duty (flight, etc.) due to other obligations. (2) A log for recording same, the 'Snivel Log'. (3) Whining.
Snorkers - (RN) Sausages.
Snort - Snorkel
Snotty - (RN) Derogatory term for a midshipman. Supposedly due to the "young gentlemen's" habit of wiping their noses with their sleeves. The Navy attempted to counter this habit by sewing buttons on the cuffs of naval uniform jackets.
SNUB - Shortest Nuke Onboard, also seen as SNOB.
Sod's Opera - (UK) An impromptu variety show put on by the ship's company, usually of a bawdy nature.
Soft Deck - (Aviation) A safety altitude below which certain maneuvers are prohibited during ACM. Expressed as feet AGL. Typically 5,000 feet AGL. See also HARD DECK.
Sonar Dome - The generally onion-shaped structure at a surface ship's bow which houses the sonar transducer.
Sonar Girls - Submarine sonar operators. The rate is STS. The term is somewhat derogatory, and refers to behavioral and hygiene habits. Minus the behavioral quirks, the equivalent rates are ST (surface) and AW (aviation).
Son of a Gun - Traditionally, a male child born (or conceived) afloat. An archaic term from the days of sail, when crewmen were typically not let ashore for fear of desertion. Women were let aboard (the regulation said "wives", but this was immediately and widely ignored, or at least winked at), and even carried at sea at times.
SOP - Standard Operating Procedure.
SOS - Shit On a Shingle, i.e. creamed chipped beef on toast.
SOSUS - SOund SUrveillance System. A land-based system of seabed hydrophones and sophisticated analysis equipment, used to monitor worldwide movements of ships and submarines.
Sour - Opposite of SWEET (q.v.). (1) Indicates that a piece of gear is not operating properly. (2) Invalid response to IFF interrogation.
Spankers and Clankers - Navy dress uniform, either blues or whites, including sword (spanker) and medals (clankers).
Spanner - (RN) Wrench.
Sparker, Sparks - (RN) Radio operator.
SpecOps - Special Operations. Any mention of SpecOps is generally followed with "If I told you, I'd have to kill you."
Speeding Ticket - A citation written by the MAA, often for a Charley Sierra infraction such as "out of uniform."
Speed of Heat (The) - (Aviation) Moving very fast.
Spike - RWR indication of a radar threat in track, launch, or unknown mode. Include bearing/clock call, and threat type if known, e.g. "Spike SAM two o'clock."
Spit Kit - Polite form of the WWII slang term for a Japanese subchaser (a small antisubmarine warfare craft). The USN designation for this ship type was 'SC', which the American submariners immediately termed "shitcans."
Spit Out - (Aviation) Noun or verb, to be out-turned in a maneuvering fight, e.g. "He stayed with me for two turns, then I reversed and spit him out."
Spitter - An aircraft that has departed the engagement in the called direction.
Splash - (1) Signifies the kill of an aircraft, e.g. "Cowboy one-six, splash one." (2) (Gunnery) A radio call warning that a salvo or shell will land in ten seconds (see also SHOT). The call may be to warn you to get your head down (if you're in the target area) or to get your head up (to observe the fall of shot if you are a member of the fire direction team).
Splice the Main Brace - Have a drink. Originated in the days of the sailing navies.
Square Away - Originating in the days of sail, the term refers to putting a ship before the wind (getting way on the ship). Today, the term refers to getting organized or ready for something, be it an inspection, a drill, etc.
Squawk - To use an IFF transponder, or the numeric code set into such a device.
Squid - Sailor. Frequently modified by the other services, especially Marines, with the adjective "fucking".
Speed Jeans - G-suit.
Spook - Intelligence personnel.
Spot - (Gunnery) Observing the fall of shot and calling corrections to the firing unit; also refers to the actual corrections themselves.
Spud Locker - The stern gallery of a carrier. Where a really low ramp strike ends up.
Squared Away - Originally, to "square away" meant to trim a ship's sails to put her before the wind (i.e. get underway). Today, it means a ship that looks good, maneuvers smartly, etc., or refers to a sailor who is capable and smart in appearance and action.
SSORM - Ship's Service and Organization Manual. The bible for shipboard organization.
STAB - (UK) Stupid Territorial Army Bastard.
Stall - (Aviation) The loss of smooth airflow over an airfoil, causing a reduction in generated lift. Often thought of as an abrupt cessation of lift, a stall actually begins, then progresses or deepens as AOA continues to increase, resulting in a progressive drop-off (rather than a sudden total loss) of lift.
Stand On - To continue in a straight line.
Stand-on Vessel - Under the Rules of the Nautical Road, a vessel which is not permitted to maneuver during a meeting, crossing, or overtaking situation. The intent is to ensure that she does not maneuver into the Give-Way Vessel (q.v.); facetiously, a way to ensure that the Give-Way Vessel hits her squarely.
Stateroom - The room in which an officer lives. Originally, the term 'stateroom' referred to the better-quality lodging available aboard riverboats plying the rivers of the early United States; these rooms were named after various states of the Union. It has come to mean any motel-style room aboard ship (as compared to berthing spaces, which are barracks style).
Steaming as before - The beginning of a log entry made at when changing the watch. If at the beginning of the day (i.e. midnight), it is followed with a detailed narrative of ship, system, and machinery status. It is traditional that the first log entry made in the new year should be in verse.
Steel Beach - Barbecue on the flight deck or other weather deck. Often hosted by a department to give the cooks a break.
Stern Tube - (1) (Submarine) Torpedo tubes which point aft. Many modern subs (and all U.S. subs) today have only a single set of torpedo tubes mounted well aft of the bow in order to permit installation of the bow sonar array. These tubes point forward but are angled outboard of the centerline. (2) The point where the propeller shaft passes through the skin of the ship. This tube includes a packing gland which permits rotation of the shaft without excessive leakage of water.
Stew Burner - Cook.
STFB - Stand The Fuck By, i.e. prepare for heavy rolls and bad weather (get ready for trouble).
Still - See EVAP.
Stinger - (1) The MAD boom, which extends aft of a P-3's empennage. (2) An additional bell stroke given when the captain actually departs the ship.
Stoker, stokes - (RN) Marine Engineering Mechanic, Technician, or Artificer.
Stores - (1) (Services of Supply) Almost anything which is handled or consumed aboard ship, e.g. food, spare parts, etc. (2) (Aviation) Weapons or other devices which can be carried by an aircraft.
Straddle - In shipboard gunnery, when one round or salvo is over, and the next is short, or vice versa. A hit is often soon to come, as the firing ship is getting the target's range (prior to the advent of radar, the most difficult aspect of the fire control puzzle).
Straight Board - In submarines, the more modern version of the "GREEN BOARD" (q.v.) report. Hull closure indicators are mounted on a panel. Closures which are shut are indicated by a backlighted dash (short straight line), while open closures are indicated by a backlighted 'donut' (circle). Therefore, with a 'straight board,' all hull openings are closed and it is safe to dive the boat.
Straight Leg - (Army) A non-parachute qualified soldier.
Strangle - Shut off or disable. "Strangle your parrot" is a common call to shut off an aircraft's IFF transponder.
Strike - (1) (Aviation) The mud-moving side of the community. (2) To attempt to qualify for a new rate (specialty).
Striker - Crewmember, usually a nonrate, who 'tries out' for a specific rate.
Striking for Chief - Brown-noser, or someone really good at his job.
Stripey - (RN) Able rate with two or three good conduct badges.
Subby - (RN) Sub-lieutenant.
Sub - (RN) Pay advance, loan.
Suck and Blow Sailor - Airedale. "Suck and Blow" also refers to jet aircraft, for obvious reasons. Early jets were called "blow jobs."
Suck Rubber - To use an EAB mask.
SURTASS - SURveillance Towed Array Sonar System.
Swab - (1) Sailor. (2) Mop.
'Swain - (RN) Ship's Coxswain. Similar to the COB in the US Navy.
Sweat - To worry about something or to be overly conscientious, or one who worries excessively.
Sweat Grenade - Someone whose sweat pumps are always running at full speed. An excitable person, or one who takes humorous situations too seriously.
Sweet - (1) Good, or functional. "Homeplate, I have sweet lock on your gadget (TACAN)." (2) Valid response to IFF interrogation.
Sweet Fanny Adams - (UK) Polite form of "sweet Fuck all," i.e. nothing whatsoever, useless, etc.
Swinging Dick - Men (or personnel), as in "I want every swingin' dick in Deck Division working on the problem!"
Swinging the Lead - (RCN) To work in a lazy manner. "OS Bloggins has BIRDS for swinging the lead."
SWO - Surface Warfare Officer.
SWOS - Surface Warfare Officer School.
TACAN - TACtical Air Navigation. A radio navaid (navigational aid) which provides bearing and distance data to the aircraft. Slang term is 'gadget.' Tack - (1) A piece of rope (line) used as a blank in a signal flag hoist, used for punctuation or to set aside a part of the message. (2) A punctuation mark in a written or voice message, written as a dash.
Tacking On - "Tacking on the crow" refers to the practice of punching the arm of a newly-promoted Petty Officer, a practice now in disfavor due to past abuses. See CROW. May have originated in the tradition of having one's shipmates each take a stitch in attaching a new crow.


Tackline - a short (4 to 6 foot long) piece of line used to separate signal flags in a hoist.
TACTAS - TACtical Towed Array Sonar.
Tactical Diameter - The diameter of the circle first described by a ship's turn. Tactical diameter is larger than FINAL DIAMETER due to the momentum of the ship, which drives the ship outside of the arc of its turn at first. See also ADVANCE AND TRANSFER.
TAD - Temporary Additional Duty, as when attending a school. Generally less than 6 months. Facetiously, 'Traveling Around Drunk.' See also TDY.
Tail - Towed sonar array.
Tallyho - Call signifying visual contact.
Target - Submarine usage: a surface vessel.
TARPS - Tactical Air Reconnaissance Pod. Installation of one turns an F-14 into a 'Peeping Tom.'
Tattletale - See "AGI."
TAU - Twin Agent Unit. On an aircraft carrier, a tractor that has been modified or purpose-built for firefighting. It has two nozzles: one sprays PKP, the other sprays AFFF.
TDU - Trash Disposal Unit. Essentially, a vertically-oriented torpedo tube used to dispose of trash aboard a submarine.
TDY - Temporary Duty. See also TAD.
Teakettle - The nuclear engineering plant.
Teardrop - A depth charge which has been given a streamlined shape, so that it will sink faster and with a more-vertical vector. See also ASHCAN.
TER - Triple Ejector Rack. A stores rack used to get more usage out of the limited number of hardpoints found on tactical aircraft. Allows up to three bombs (for example) to be hung on a single set of shackles, depending on weight and space limitations.
Test Depth - The maximum depth to which a submarine can go routinely without damage.
Texaco - Airborne tanker.
TFOA - Things Falling Off Aircraft. An unintentional event. Highly embarrassing, and thereby something to be avoided! Can be ordnance but also can be other important pieces such as landing gear doors, control surfaces, ejector racks, fuel tanks, etc.
Three Sheets to the Wind - Drunk. Literally, when the lines to the sails (sheets) have come adrift and fly in the wind.
Tickler - (RN) Tobacco, especially naval issue.
Tiddly suit - (RN) Best uniform.
Tiff - (RN) Artificer. Usually used with the rate, e.g. 'Chief Tiffy'.
Tiger - Sufficient fuel and ordnance to accept the mission or target.
Tilly - (1) (USN) A wheeled aircraft crash and salvage crane on an aircraft carrier. It is typically parked aft of the island. (2) (RN) Crew bus or other transport.
Tincan - Also seen as "Tin Can," a common nickname for a destroyer. The nickname arose because in World Wars One and Two, the hull plating of this ship type was so thin the sailors claimed they were made from tin cans. In fact, a .45 pistol bullet would penetrate it. Modern destroyers have much thicker hull plating, but the nickname persists. This nickname is sometimes abbreviated as "Can", although to a radioman a 'can' is a set of headphones.
TINS - "This Is No Shit." The opening line to a sea story.
Titivate - Clean up, or make shipshape.
Titless Wave - A (male) Yeoman. Can also be used to refer to PN's (Personnelman).
Tits Duty - Easy or sweet duty.
Tits Up - Inoperative, or broken. "It's dead, Jim." Polite forms: 'sneakers up', 'belly up'.
TLD - Thermo-Luminescent Dosimeter. Found in nuclear vessels, used to determine exposure to radiation.
TMOW - Torpedoman Of (the) Watch. Responsible for all onboard weapons systems of a submarine. This includes the safe shipping and storage of torpedoes and torpedo-tube launchable missiles. Considered by some to be a KNUCKLE-DRAGGER.
Toasts - In the British Empire, toasts were drunk at dinner to the reigning monarch (also known as 'the loyal toast'). The Navy eventually received special permission to drink the loyal toast while seated (due to the lack of headroom common to ships of the day). In addition, traditional toasts were drunk on specific days of the week. They were:
Monday - "Our ships at sea."
Tuesday - "Our native land."
Wednesday - "Ourselves and no one like us."
Thursday - "A bloody war or a sickly season" (and therefore more-rapid promotion).
A variant was "A bloody war and quick promotion."
Friday - "A willing foe and searoom."
Saturday - "Sweethearts and wives." (someone would usually pipe up "and may they never meet!"
Sunday - "Absent friends."
Toe Rail - On weather decks, the raised lip at the deck edge. An aid to keeping one's feet inboard.
Tomachicken - Tomahawk cruise missile.
Top Gun - Navy Fighter Weapons School, the Navy's postgraduate fighter tactics course. Originally based at Miramar NAS in California, now located at Fallon NAS in Nevada.
Tot - (RN) A half-gill measure of Pussers Rum (approximately two fluid ounces). Used to be daily issue, served neat to Chiefs and Petty Officers; mixed with two parts water for other rates.
Toto Station - Patrol station in the North Red Sea during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. The winner of a "name the station" contest: "Gee, Admiral, we're not in Kansas any more." The inshore stations were promptly named "Wizard" and "Oz."
Touch and Go - While the term today refers to practice aircraft landings, the origin may have been when a ship touched ground (ran aground) briefly, then came clear by its inertia. In aviation, sometimes also called a "Crash and Dash."
Transient - (ASW) A sudden sound emitted from a sonar contact. May be anything from a dropped wrench to the sound of torpedo or missile tube outer doors opening. Tends to generate high PUCKER FACTOR in other subs or surface ships.
Trap - (1) Arrested landing aboard a carrier. "Night traps" are night landings. "Field traps" (arrested landings on a shore base) are an entirely different kettle of fish, being nowhere near as abrupt or unforgiving. (2) (RN) Toilet cubicle. (3) Trapping: (RN) Sexual activity with members of the opposite sex, probably derived from some obscure analog to tailhooks.
Trashed - Informative call that an attacking missile has been defeated.
Trim - (1) The static (i.e. at-rest) tendency of a ship to lie with her decks not in a horizontal position, fore to aft. A ship that lies with her bow too low is said to "trim by the bow." (2) A mechanism or system of an aircraft or ship (especially submarines) which compensates for imbalances fore and aft or port and starboard, so as to maintain level attitude. Can be a noun (for the system or static tendency) or a verb, to use the system to change longitudinal (fore and aft) or lateral (side to side) balance. In aircraft, trim is usually accomplished by the adjustment of small surfaces ('tabs') on the flight control surfaces, although an entire control surface is moved on some types. In submarines, trim is usually accomplished by pumping fluids (water, usually) from one tank to another, or by moving weights such as stores from one compartment to another.
Trim Party - A prank often perpetrated on a newly-qualled Dive Officer or Chief of the Watch, where men and other weights are shifted fore and aft to affect the trim of the boat.
Tumbleweeds - Non-standard radio brevity code for "No tally, no visual, no clue" (i.e. "I don't see my flight leader, I don't see the bogey, and I have no clue.")
Tunnel (The) - Room either above or next to the reactor compartment (depending on the class of sub) that allows fore/aft travel past that space.
Turd Herder - Personnel assigned to the ship's sewage handling plant.
Turn - Revolutions of a propeller shaft or other rotating engineering device.
Turn Count - Estimating a vessel's speed by counting screw (propellor) rpm via sonar.
Turn To - Begin working, or "Get to work!"
Turn Turtle - Capsize.
Tweak - See TWIDGET.
Twelve O'clock Reports - Reports on fuel and water, magazine temperature, and position. These reports are made to the OOD (Officer of the Deck) by the engineering officer, the weapons officer, and the navigator, respectively. The OOD then reports to the CO.
Twidget - Any of the electronics/computer/communications technicians.
Two-blocked - To reach the maximum limit of something. Can also mean just right, or perfect. The term originates in the use of block and tackle for hoisting. When the two blocks touch, lifting can proceed no farther. RN/RCN is "chock-a-block" or "chokers," though these forms are more restricted to the "maximum limit" definition.
Two-and-a-half - (RN) Lieutenant Commander.


UA - Unauthorized Absence. The Naval/Marine equivalent of AWOL (Absent Without Leave).
Uder - (RN, pronounced like the cow's appendage) The stoker in charge of the fuel tanks, fresh water, and fuels reports.
Unable - Cannot comply as requested/directed.
Under Way - Sometimes seen as "under weigh." The term refers to a ship which is not physically connected to solid ground, i.e. neither moored, anchored, nor grounded. Often confused with "MAKING WAY" (q.v.), though legally very different.
Unload - (1) (Aviation) To reduce the load (maintain less than 1G of loading) on the aircraft, thereby increasing the rate of acceleration. Since a major component of drag on an aircraft is induced drag, which is relative to how much lift is being generated, unloading reduces drag. (2) To verbally abuse someone, e.g. "The XO really unloaded on me."
UNREP - UNderway REPlenishment. The transfer of supplies, fuel, and munitions from one ship to another while at sea. Also seen as RAS (Replenishment At Sea), esp. RN/RCN.
Unsat - Unsatisfactory. Up Homers - (RN) Being invited to someone's home, especially a female's.
Upper Works - The structure of a ship which lies above here weather decks. Also known as "superstructure."
Up the Hawsepipe - (UK) An officer commissioned from the lower deck (enlisted ranks). Similar to the USN's Mustang.
US - (RN/RCN/RAN) UnServiceable.
USMC - United States Marine Corps. Cynically, 'Uncle Sam's Misguided Children.'
Ustafish - (1) General term for a previous submarine command one has served in. Often used as "That's not how we did it aboard the USTAFISH." Generally followed by various short, forceful comments from others present. (2) A rogue virtual submarine manned by members of the sci.military.naval newsgroup.


VA - (1) Veteran's Administration. (2) Designation for an Attack squadron.
Vampire - Radio codeword for a hostile antiship cruise missile.
Vasco - (RN) Ship's navigator.
VAQ - Electronic warfare squadron.
VC - (1) Vietcong. (2) Composite squadron (i.e. a unit flying multiple types of aircraft).
Veer - (1) To pay out line or chain, as in increasing the scope of the anchor. (2) A change of wind direction in the clockwise direction (as one looks into the wind).
Vertical Envelopment - Landing troops ashore via helicopter.
VertRep - VERtical REPlenishment. Bringing stores aboard ship by use of a helicopter.
VF - Fighter squadron.
VFA - Fighter-Attack squadron.
VFR - Visual Flight Rules. An FAA-specified series of flight rules used when an aircraft is not under positive radar control. When flying VFR, an aircraft's pilot has sole legal responsibility for safe flight and collision avoidance.
Vittled In - Something good. "OS Bloggins really vittled in when he cut the MESS MOTHER'S grass at the PIG OF THE PORT contest."
Vittler - (RCN) The stores rating who looks after issuing rations to the cooks and takes care of the ordering and storing of food onboard. From the word 'victual' (which is pronounced 'vittle').
VMA - Marine attack squadron.
VMAQ - Marine electronic warfare squadron.
VMC - Visual Meteorological Conditions.
VMFA - Marine fighter-attack squadron.
VS - Anti-submarine warfare squadron.
Vulture's Row - The catwalks and galleries along the island of an aircraft carrier, where crewmembers often congregate to watch flight operations. RN/RCN form is "goofers" (goofing stations).
XO - Executive Officer. Second-in-command of a vessel.


WAA - Wide Aperture Array. An advanced passive ranging sonar.
Wafoo, Wafu - (RN) Naval aviator; Fleet Air Arm personnel. Aka 'AIRY-FAIRY'. Originally an abbreviation for "Weapons And Fuel Users." May also mean "Wet And Fucking Useless."
Wakeup - The cry of the short-timer, often intensely annoying to those around him. If a sailor will be leaving the service in ten days, he is said to have "nine days and a wakeup."
Walter - Walter One-Way, the guy who always does for himself, and never helps you. See CHECK VALVE.
Wardroom - (1) A compartment aboard ship where the officers eat. May also be used for meetings, briefings, etc. (2) The complement of officers aboard ship.
Warning (Color):
Red - Attack imminent, or ongoing.
Yellow - Attack is likely or probable.
White - Attack is unlikely (all clear).
Washout - (1) The variation (generally, the lessening) in ANGLE OF INCIDENCE throughout the span of an aircraft's wing. Therefore, for a given angle of attack (q.v.), the AOA is less at wingtip than at root. Washout helps ensure aileron authority (effectiveness) as angle of attack increases, as it tends to cause the wing root to stall before the wingtip. (2) To fail out of a training program, typically for inadequate performance.
Waste Heat Boiler - A boiler which uses the waste (otherwise nonfunctional) heat of an engine system to make steam for hotel or other usage. Often associated with a gas turbine or diesel propulsion plant.
Watch - The standing of duty shifts. The practice varies, but in the US Navy, the watch rotation is as follows:
0000-0400 - Midwatch
0400-0800 - Morning Watch
0800-1200 - Forenoon Watch
1200-1600 - Afternoon Watch
1600-1800 - First Dogwatch
1800-2000 - Second Dogwatch
2000-2400 - Evening Watch (aka First Watch)
The purpose of the dogwatches is to permit the watchstanders to eat the evening meal. These watches are said to be "dogged."
Water Buffalo - (1) A water tank on wheels used by SeaBees and/or other ground forces to carry drinking water. (2) Someone who uses excessive water, such as by taking HOLLYWOOD SHOWERS (submarines).
Water Wings - Warfare qualification pin for a Surface Warfare Officer (SWO), or Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist (ESWS). Represented as the bow of a ship superimposed on crossed swords (SWO) or cutlasses (ESWS).
Wave - (Aviation) The actions of an LSO when he directs and monitors the landing operations aboard a carrier. Also seen as "Wave Aboard."
Waveoff - A call by the LSO directing a go-around. Unlike most radio calls to a pilot, a waveoff is not advisory in nature.
Weapons ( ):
Free - Fire on targets not identified as friendly, in accordance with current ROE.
Tight - Fire only on targets positively identified as hostile, in accordance with current ROE.
Hold - (USA, USMC) Fire only in self-defense or in response to a formal order.
Safe - (USN, NATO) Fire only in self-defense or in response to a formal order.
Weather Deck - Literally, any deck of a ship which is exposed to the weather, i.e. outside the skin of the ship.
Weeds - Indicates that aircraft are operating at very low altitude, i.e. "In the weeds."
WEPS - The weapons officer.
WestPac Widow - The spouse of a deployed sailor, if he or she strays from the marital bed in their absence.
Wets - (RN) Drinks.
WETSU - We Eat This Shit Up. A derisive statement, usually regarding working or living conditions.
WFW - "Waaah Fucking Waaah". Used to tell someone to quit whining.
Wheel Book - A small notebook, usually used by Division Officers to keep track of daily events and reminders.
Whifferdil - (Aviation) Random or uncontrolled maneuvers.
Whinge - (UK) To whine with extreme overtones of self-pity.
Whitehat - Enlisted personnel (E-1 through E-6).
WILCO - WILl COmply. May only be used by unit commanders (ship COs, aircraft commanders, etc.).
Willy Pete - Ordnance which contains White Phosphorus. From the old phonetic alphabet, 'William Peter.'
Winchester - Radio proword for "out of ammunition," whether completely, or for a particular ammunition type, e.g. "Cowboy two-six is Winchester twenty mike-mike (20mm gun ammo)."
Wind Tunnel - Typically, an area of a ship where the ship's movement and natural winds combine with ship's architecture to cause significant air movement. Commonly used on old '27-Charlie' aircraft carriers, but also applied to more modern vessels.
Winger - (RCN) Mate, buddy, or pal.
Wings - The insignia of an aviator. Represented as wings flanking a shield surmounting an anchor, or in the case of NFO's, two crossed anchors. "Getting (one's) wings" - achieving the status of a qualified aviator.
Wire - (1) Nautical term for what a civilian would call a cable or wire rope. (2) Cross-deck pendants of the arresting gear aboard a carrier. Numbered from aft forward, 1 to 4. In older, straight-deck carriers (ca. WWII and Korean War), there could be as many as 20 or more wires.
Wire Biter - Any electrical or electronics rate, similar to TWIDGET.
Wire Rope - Wire strands wound around a core of rope. Not as strong as cable, but more flexible.
Wog - (1) short form of POLLYWOG (q.v.). (2) (UK) Term of derision for non-white native personnel.
Woop - USNA slang for West Point cadets. Rhymes with "poop."
WOXOF - Pronounced "walks-off". FAA/Aviation weather report terminology for 'visibility zero, ceiling zero, sky obscured by fog'. See CLOBBERED.
Wrap - (RM) Give up. "He's just wrapped his tits."
WTD - WaterTight Door.
WTF - "What/who/where the fuck?" Sometimes spoken as "What the fuck, over?" (WTFO), or spoken phonetically, "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot."


XBT - eXpendable BathyThermograph. A device for measuring water temperature profiles, and thereby predicting sound velocity differences and sonar performance.
Yankee Station - One of the two positions typically occupied by an aircraft carrier off the coast of Vietnam. 'Yankee' was the northern station, tasked with disruption of commerce and logistics.


Yanking and Banking - (Aviation) Literally, the roll-and-pull stick movements used to turn or otherwise maneuver an aircraft. More generally, accelerated flight, when the pilot puts G on the aircraft ("pulling Gs"). Also seen as "Banking and Yanking."
Yard - A horizontal spar on a mast.
Yellow Gear - Flight deck support gear, such as power or start carts, crash gear, etc.
Yoyo - (USN Aviation) (1) An energy-management maneuver in which a tactical aircraft in a turn either decreases angle of bank while maintaining backstick (G), resulting in a climb, reduced closure, and tightened radius of turn ('High Yoyo') or increases angle of bank, resulting in a descent, increased speed, and increased closure ("Low Yoyo'); (2) Shorthand for "You're On Your Own." Think of calling 911 and getting a busy signal.


Z's - Sleep, or snoring. "Let's go bag some Z's."
Zarf - (USN subs) Coffee cup holder.
Zed Shed - (RM) A classroom, or any area where a lecture takes place. Probably from the British phonetic 'Zed' for 'Z' (snoring).
Zero - Derogatory term for officer. Comes from the "O" in the paygrade designation.
Zero Dark Thirty - See OH DARK THIRTY.
Z-Gram - Messages to the Navy sent by Admiral Zumwalt, CNO in the 70s.
Ziplip - Carrier flight operations conducted under radio silence.
Zone 5 - Maximum afterburners. Afterburners on most modern aircraft can be modulated from minimum (zone 1) to maximum (usually 5).
Zoomie - (1) Air Force personnel. (2) (USN) A nickname for Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, then-CNO, in the 70s. (3) (USN) Energetic nuclear particles. Someone working in a nuclear radiation area is said to be "catching some zoomies."
Zulu 5 Oscar - Personnel making a deliberate attempt to board a ship unauthorized, usually at the direction of higher authority to test security procedures. The standard intruder drill.
ZULU Time - Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). Used in radio traffic when the origin of a dispatch is expressed in GMT, i.e. "1700 ZULU".


Non-trivial trivia:

Volumetric measure:
4 gills make a pint
2 pints a quart
2 quarts a pottle
2 pottles a gallon
8 gallons a firkin
2 firkin a kilderkin
2 kilderkin a barrel
2 barrels a hogshead
2 hogsheads a pipe
2 pipes or three puncheons a tun

In brief, then, a gill is a quarter of a pint, where a Pint is 20 fluid ounces in the UK and 16 fl. Oz. in the USA

Fathom: 6 feet
Rod: 16.5 feet (also called a pole or perch)
Chain: 4 rods, or 66 feet
Furlong: 10 chains, or 660 feet. 1/8 of a statute mile.
On land, 120 fathoms, or 720 feet.
At sea, 101 fathoms, 606 feet. 1/10 of a nautical mile
League: (same as a shot)
Land: 3 statute miles
Sea: 3 nautical miles
Note: in the US Navy, anchor chain is measured in "shots," but these are shots of 15 fathoms' length (90 feet). The same measure in UK service is referred to as a "shackle."


Aircraft Nicknames

A-3D Skywarrior: Whale, All Three Dead (it had no ejection seats!)
A-4 Skyhawk: Scooter, Heinemann's Hotrod (for Ed Heinemann, its designer)
A-5 Vigilante: Vigie, Viggie (both pronounced with short 'i' and soft 'g')
A-7 Corsair II: SLUF (Short Little Ugly Fucker)
AC-130H/U Specter: Spooky, Puff The Magic Dragon, Dragon. These "noms de guerre" are shared with the AC-130's Vietnam-era predecessor, the AC-47.
AD-1 Skyraider: Spad, Able Dog (from the phonetic alphabet)
AH-1G Cobra: Snake
AH-1W: Whiskey
B-1 Excalibur: Bone (from "B One")
Buccaneer: Banana Bomber
EA-3 Skywarrior: Electric Whale
EA-6B Prowler: Queer (from the 'VAQ' squadron designation)
F-3D Skyknight: Drut (now try that backwards)
F-4D Skyray: Ford
F-4 Phantom: Lead Sled, Double Ugly, Rhino, Flying Footlocker
F-5: Freedom Fighter, Skoshi Tiger, Dinky Toy
F-14 Tomcat: Turkey, Tomkitty, Cat, Tomgrape
F-15 Eagle: Beagle (E variant, contraction of "Bomb Eagle"), Mudhen (dark gray -E variant), Albino (light gray -C variant)
F-16 Fighting Falcon: Lawn Dart, Icepick, Viper
F/A-18 Hornet: Plastic Bug, Bug
F-100: Hun, Clunk (because of the sounds it would make while sitting in the hangar with no one near it)
F-102 Delta Dagger: Deuce
F-104 Starfighter: Zipper
F-111: Aardvark
F-117 Nighthawk: Cockroach (they run away when the lights come on), Stinkbug
H-53: Pisser (due to the hydraulic leaks)
HC.4 Sea King: Junglie
LOH-58 Kiowa: Loach (from the Light Observation Helicopter (LOH) designation)
MH-6 Cayuse: Little Bird
S-2F Tracker: Stoof
S-3 Viking: Hoover
SH-60 Seahawk
T-2 Buckeye - Guppy
T-37 : Dog Whistle, Converter (converts fuel to noise), Tweety Bird, Tweet
UH-1 Iroquois: Huey
US-2B: Used to be stoof
UH-60 Blackhawk: Crashhawk
WF-1 Tracer: Willy Fudd, Stoof with a roof


Appendix A - The Falcon Code

Usage: typically via voice radio, e.g. "Falcon one one five."
Code Meaning
1 Sheeeeit!
10 Shit Hot!
100 If CAG saw that, he'd shit!
101 You've gotta be shitting me!
102 Get off my fucking back!
103 Beats the shit outta me
104 WTFO
105 It's so fuckin' bad, I can't believe it!
106 I hate this fuckin' place
107 This place sucks
108 Fuck you very much
109 That gawd damned SOB
110 Beautiful, just fuckin' beautiful
111 Here comes another fuckin' CAG brainstorm
112 BFD (Big Fuckin' Deal)
113 Let me talk to that SOB
114 Get your shit together!
115 You bet your sweet ass
116 Fuck it
117 I love you so much I could just shit!
119 Get this aircraft out of Delta; it has more fuckin' down gripes than the USS Arizona.
120 That's a no-no
121 That gawd damned O-Club
122 You piss me off!
123 Fuck off, mate
135 Adios, Motherfucker
136 If you ask me for a low pass one more time, you're not gonna get launched for a week!
137 You may NOT have any fuckin' fuel!
139 I have a prostate over-pressure light
140 COMEX, motherfucker
141 That motherfuckin' CIC is dreaming again
142 The fuckin' helos are all fucked up.
143 It's the Air Boss's fault
202 You may not like the fuckin' staff, but the staff likes fuckin' you!
221 Fuck you and the horse you rode in on!
223 Get your head out of your ass
224 You say "I don't know" one more time and I'm gonna shove a sonobuoy up your ass!
225 You must have shit for brains!
226 Would you like a kick in the ass to help you get airborne?
227 What does it take to get a clearance out of this fuckin' place?
228 Just fly the bus and leave the ASW to us
229 You're so fuckin' stupid, you're a menace to society
230 This bastard has more downing gripes than the USS Arizona
231 Comments and recommendations, my ass
232 Just out of curiosity, NAV, where the hell are we?
269 Excuse me, but you have obviously mistaken me for someone who gives a shit!
500 Those fuckin' carrier pukes!
600 Those fuckin' ASW pukes
641 Hang it in your ear
700 Fuckin' grunts
728 If I hear "CV concept" one more time, I'm gonna shit
750 That fucker runs like a well-oiled machine
775 Your old lady wears Boondockers
800 I love this so much I could just shit
901 If this is such a fuckin' good deal, send Crew Two
902 If I called for shit, you'd come sliding in on a shovel
1000 Cool it, the Chaplain's here
3000 Hay for my horses, whiskey for my crew, and a plate of flies for my toad
3001 He's so light, he's a menace to aviation
3003 He hasn't had his lobotomy yet


Appendix B - The Dolphin Code

Usage: typically via voice radio, Gertrude, etc., e.g. "Dolphin twelve bravo."
Code Meaning
1. Your last surfacing procedure was:
a. First class.
b. Surprisingly good.
c. Understandably awful.
d. Indescribable.

2. I presume you got your ticket (warfare qual) in a raffle?
3. For the last serial you could have used any fishing boat
4. My battery is:

a. 100%, I will simulate a nuclear submarine if you wish.
b. 75%, I will simulate a nuclear submarine for a short time if you wish.
c. 50%, I will not simulate a nuclear submarine, regardless of your wishes.
d. 25%, I wish to simulate a conventional submarine, and will hot-pipe if you wish.
e. DEAD, I hot-pipe now regardless of your wishes.

5. I was unaware that medical standards had been revised. You are clearly blind as a bat.
6. During the last action you displayed noticeably suicidal tendencies.
7. Once again you have demonstrated a commendable ability to practice basics
8. The last serial was so bad that we watched a double feature.
9. Your exercise instructions are simple. Simply awful.
10. I am unable to act as evasively as I wish.
11. I am unable to act as unevasively as you wish.
12. I am surfacing (surfaced) because:

a. I must make repairs.
b. I wish to bale out water.
c. Your chances of locating me are negligible otherwise.
d. I wish to barbecue the next meal.

13. I must temporarily withdraw from the exercise because of difficulties with:

a. Technical systems which are difficult to explain.
b. Battery/motors/generator, I no go right.
c. Sonar, I no hear right.
d. Ingress of water, I no float right.
e. Fire/smoke, I no breathe right.
f. Personnel, I no lead right.

14. Please accept my apologies for failing to make the assigned rendezvous. My reason is as follows:

a. The navigator is a Newfoundlander.
b. I was doing something else at the time and didn't think you'd miss me.
c. I erroneously assumed that you would be where you said you'd be.
d. My navigational equipment has not been updated since the Boer War.

15. If you don't ask me to raise more masts, I won't ask you to fly with your wheels in the water.
16. Your last attack is assessed as follows:

a. Excellent, within 500 yards.
b. Good, within 1000 yards.
c. Marginal, 1000 to 2000 yards.
d. Poor, over 2000 yards.
e. Awful, over 3000 yards.
f. Unmeasurably distant.

17. It is difficult to believe that you and I are operating in the same ocean.
18. Your message (Date-Time Group __________ ):

a. Appears to have been drafted hastily.
b. Does little to foster good relations.
c. Is a shining example of illiteracy.
d. Is not held by this unit.
e. Is held by this unit, but we wish it weren't.
f. Requires the sort of reply I am not used to making.
g. Was a crippler.

19. When we were surface sailors we used to do silly things, too.
20. If you decide to graduate to advanced exercises, please hire a different submarine.
21. If you ask me to fire another smoke, I shall scream.
22. Submariners never cheat, and rarely lie.
23. It's a pity that in wartime we'd be on the same side.
24. Your approach to the problem was impossible, but tactically sound.
25. Your helicopter:

a. Frightened me.
b. Didn't frighten me.
c. I frightened your helicopter.
d. I wasn't aware you had a helicopter airborne.

26. In re: your assistance:

a. Thank you for your valuable assistance.
b. Had assistance been rendered, I would have been thankful.
c. No, thank you, I do not require assistance.
d. Please do not render assistance; I need your help like I need a hole in the head.

27. You have been on task for several hours. You must be suffering terribly from crew fatigue.
28. We have been on task for several weeks. Next week we will probably begin to suffer from crew fatigue.
29. Tracking without attacking is the commonest form of military masochism.
30. I suppose the worsening weather will mean you'll have to stop the war.
31. The adverse weather is affecting us greatly; the movie projector has tipped over twice.
32. If you're so good, why aren't in submarines?
33. Submariners do it deeper.
34. Submariners think deeper.
35. Deep down, you know it makes sense.
36. Submariners are super.
37. Submariners have bigger balls.
38. Diesel boats forever
39. Black is beautiful.
40. Breaker one nine, this here's the Rubber Duck; I think we got us a convoy.
41. Ten Four.
42. Please be gentle; this is my first time.
43. We think the water has been sufficiently ensonified. Maybe you should try something else.
44. You have the uncanny ability to complicate a very simple exercise.
45. Intelligence is a God-given gift. Doorknobs are man-made. Mental midgets only have God's love. Is my point clear?
46. After working with you, I now realize why some animals eat their young.
47. My CO and XO can out-drink your CO and XO.
48. When someone's as good as me, it's hard to be modest.
49. Happiness is 500 feet in Force 12.
50. With friends like you, who needs enemies?
51. Don't knock a stern shot until you've fired one.
52. If you provide fresh water, I'll provide:

a. Soap.
b. Towels.
c. 60 dirty bodies.
d. Whiskey.
e. All the above.

53. G.O.Y.A.
54. D.B.S.F.W.
55. B.U.F.F.S.
56. P.P.P.P.P.P.P.
57. S.M.F.
58. With sub-killers like you around, I look forward to a long life.
59. Missed me again.
60. Can I go home now?
61. We may be small, but we're slow.
62. My bite is worse than my bark.
63. I was delayed in returning to periscope depth because:

a. A large whale was holding me down.
b. I forgot to vent my depth gauge.
c. I was waiting for the last reel to finish.
d. I had to resolve my plot.
e. I wasn't sure I knew that you knew where I was.
f. I wanted to annoy you.

64. Many thanks for:

a. Your kind hospitality.
b. The newspapers.
c. The skin books.
d. Nothing.

65. Excuse me sir, but I think you have confused me with someone who gives a damn.
66. My reports/reply/message/letter was (will be) late for the following reason(s):

a. Writer's cramp.
b. Typewriter unserviceable due to overheating.
c. My priority list did not coincide with yours.
d. We didn't think you'd notice.
e. I plain forgot.
f. The XO plain forgot.

67. R.P.C. for:

a. Noon cocktails.
b. Informal exercise.
c. Post-exercise punch-up.
d. Light meal and refreshments.
e. Sarnies and sludge.

68. M.R.U. because:

a. I am otherwise operationally committed.
b. I am otherwise socially committed.
c. Your last such event was disastrous.
d. I am unable to maintain your pace.
e. I don't want to come.

69. W.M.P.:

a. You offer so few invitations I can't afford to pass up this one.
b. Let's do it again.
c. For a short time.
d. For as long as you'll have me.
e. With bells on.

70. Your social event was:

a. First class. Thank you.
b. Disastrous, as expected.
c. One which should never be repeated.
d. Most detrimental to health.
e. A crashing bore. Better luck next time.

71. Unbelievable. Will advise Mr. Ripley.
72. Event:

a. Very well done.
b. Well done.
c. Well done. Sort of.
d. Not well done.
e. Badly done.
f. Very badly done.
g. Don't do it again.

73. Have lost the bubble. Will retrieve.
74. Bubble found.
75. What can I say?
76. Reason(s) is (are) as follows:

a. I goofed.
b. XO goofed.
c. Somebody goofed.
d. Inattention, for which some SOB will pay.
e. Temporary decline in usual high standards.
f. Another example of usual low standards.
g. I thought I could get away with it.
h. Misdirected malapropism.
i. Lapsus linguae.

77. This port is:

a. Fantastic. Better not send surface ships here.
b. Outstanding. Can we come again?
c. Reasonable.
d. Not the sort of place submariners should visit.
e. Hostile.
f. Only good for storm avoidance.

78. Wish you were here.
79. Bet you wish you were here.
80. Glad you're not here.


Contents of this FAQ copyright Jeff Crowell - 23 January 2006

Courtesy of
Jeff Crowell
(Struck Through to avoid Spam Robots)

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