[David E. Meadows / SixthFleet.Com]
Welcome to SixthFleet.Com,
the Cyberspace Home of author David E. Meadows.
"When Meadows' men set sail, it's sure to be a mission like no other."
--W.E.B. Griffin

"Rip-snorting, realistic action-adventure from a man who
has been there. David Meadows is the real thing,"

--Stephen Coonts author of numerous bestsellers, including
Flight of the Intruder, Saucer, America, and Liberty.

"An absorbing, compelling look at America's future place in the world. It's
visionary, and scary. Great battle scenes, believable heroes, plus villains
you'll love to hate!"

-Joe Buff, bestselling author of Straits of Power, Tidal Rip, and Crush Depth.

"David E. Meadows is simply the best writer of naval thriller/adventure fiction out there today."
--Tom Wilson, acclaimed author of Black Canyon, Desert Fury, Tango Uniform and other best selling military thrillers.


The one challenge that surfaced from readers' comments after my first couple of books was the plethora of nautical and technical terms that sometimes whisked right over the readers' heads. If there is one-thing authors hate, it's having words whisk over reader's heads. I know how they feel. Once, when deployed to Gibraltar with this Chief Petty Officer, this Chief and I took a tour of the pubs chatting with the civilian natives and tourists in what we thought was English. It soon became apparent to the two of us that though we were speaking English, we were separated by a common language. The language of those who go to sea or fly aircraft is distinct and different from that employed ashore. We were so upset and embarrassed that we searched the night for a pub where we would find other sailors. The next morning we stumbled into the crew from the nuclear powered submarine USS Miami. Finally, an English we understood surrounded us. I promised the crew that I would use their ship in my books and I did. I used the USS Miami throughout the SIXTH FLEET series.

This glossary is not all encompassing and it grows daily. So, next year it will be bigger and longer. But, before I jump into my personal glossary that I developed with little professional research, depending most times on my own definitions, I want to give you a few of the general terms someone unfamiliar with nautical language may encounter.

1. Officer ranks of the Navy are different from the Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps who all use similar titles:


Navy Army, Air Force, Marine Corps
Admiral General
Captain Colonel
Commander Lieutenant Colonel
Lieutenant Commander Major
Lieutenant Captain
Lieutenant Junior Grade First lieutenant
Ensign Second Lieutenant

Enlisted ranks are very different between all four services. I won't list them, but for the Navy, we call anyone in the middle ranks Petty Officer. Petty officers are the same as non-commissioned officers in the other three services. Once you make Chief Petty Officer you earn the honor of being called 'Chief.' A Chief is pretty special in the Navy. Just ask them, they'll tell you. I will offer a definition later in the glossary for Chief Petty Officer.

2. Other common terms:

  • Bow - front of the ship
  • Stern - rear of the ship
  • Amidships - middle of the ship
  • Starboard - right (On a ship, a green light is visible from approaching ships on this side.)
  • Port - left (On a ship, a red light is visible from approaching ships on this side.)
  • 3. Translating normal building terms used in civilian-speak into Navy-lese would look something like this:

    Living room - Wardrooms for officers; mess decks for enlisted
    Bedroom - Staterooms and berthing compartments
    Bathroom - Head
    Kitchen - Galley
    Dining room - Wardroom for officers; Mess decks for enlisted
    Other rooms - Compartments
    Library - Library
    Hallway - Passageway
    Floor - Deck
    Stories - (such as we have a 4-story house) Levels
    Staircase - Ladder or companionways
    Ceiling - Overhead
    Vinyl siding - Skin of the ship
    Bed - Rack


    A / B / C / D / E / F / G / H / I / J / K / L / M / N / O / P / Q / R / S / T / U / V / W / X / Y / Z


    Abaft - Towards the stern of the ship.

    Active homing – This is a missile that uses its own radar to search, detect, and lock-on to a target.

    Adrift - When a ship has no control of its movement and the movements of the ocean are determining the movement of the ship, it is said to be adrift.

    Aegis - Sometimes used to refer to a certain class of ships (e.g, Aegis cruiser; Aegis destroyer), Aegis is really the sophisticated radar on those ships that controls search, detection, tracking, lock-on, and fire control. Its sophistication allows it to burn through clutter and ground smear to better maintain a common-operating picture of the battle sphere. It's a total weapons system from detection to kill.

    A-gang – these sailors operate and maintain the auxiliary equipment of the ship such as air conditioners, water distilleries, air compressors, and circulating systems associated with them.

    Aground - The quick way for a commanding officer to receive orders. When a ship hits the bottom of a body of water, every eye on the ship turns to the bridge. On the bridge, every eye turns to the Captain. It surprising today that when someone runs a ship aground his or her career is over. Admiral Nimitz, one of our Naval leaders in World War II, ran a ship aground as junior officer in San Francisco bay, was relieved and court martial'ed, before he returned to sea to earn five-stars. Today, most likely, he'd have served the remainder of his four-years, got a job with a beltway bandit, and retired a millionaire. We have enough millionaires in America.

    Ahoy - This is a shout to alert someone to your presence and according to the Navy Chief of Information, the term can be traced back to a Viking battle cry.

    Aft - towards the stern of the ship. Any movement toward the stern of the ship is said to be 'heading aft.' "Sure, I saw the Captain. He was heading aft," means the Captain was walking toward the rear of the ship.

    Air boss – This is the emperor of the aircraft carrier flight deck. This senior officer (usually a Commander or junior Captain) is responsible for the safety and organization of the flight deck. He or she will have several 'A' type personalities working with him or her in this critical job. The Air Boss and his or her team monitor the movement of aircraft and where they're parked as well as the catapult operations. They monitor launchings and landings of the aircraft. Definitely an opportunity for making diamonds.

    Aircraft carrier - A class of ship whose primary weapons are the fighter aircraft able to be launched from its flight deck. Different countries have different style of aircraft carriers. The U.S. and France are the only two with aircraft carriers that have catapults and the capability of launching the higher performance fighters of the two countries. Other countries with aircraft carriers include but are not limited to Great Britain, Italy, and India. The Peoples Republic of China is designing an aircraft carrier with catapults. Once this aircraft carrier hits the open seas, it will join the aircraft carrier classes of the U.S. and France.

    ACM - air-combat maneuvering. Air-to-air combat such as a dogfight.

    Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) - All weather 12-foot long air-to-air missile that was developed with agreement with our allies for interoperability in mind. It can be used on the F-15, F-16, F/A-18, and F-14 fighter aircraft.

    AK-47 - The full name is Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifle. Adopted by the Soviet Army in 1951 this automatic weapon was made in great bulk and shipped all over the globe. It is also very reliable and easy to use. The AK-47 is so universal that coupled with reliability this 9.5 lbs, 7.62MM automatic weapon has become the weapon of choice for terrorists.

    Aloft – Refers to someone being on a mast of the ship. Not to be confused with topside though to be aloft meets the technical definition of being topside. I guess you could say that 'aloft' is higher than 'topside.'

    All hands – This term refers to everyone assigned to a ship, officers and enlisted combined.

    Allotment – There are few, if any, career military who do not make use of the allotment. An allotment is a deduction from the military member's pay to pay someone else. A lot of us use it to send money to a relative or to pay for additional insurance.

    Amphibious Warfare - The combat science of landing U.S. ground forces in hostile territory from a ship or groups of ship designed for such warfare. The USS Boxer in the JOINT TASK FORCE series is such a ship. The USS Nassau in the SIXTH FLEET series is another amphibious warfare ship. Little Creek Naval Base in Virginia Beach, VA, is the largest Amphibious Warfare base in the world.

    Anchor pool – This is much like a football pool, but players are betting a small notional sum on the time the anchor is released when a ship is entering port. If the ship is to tie up to a dock, then when the sound of 'Shift colors' is announced determines the time. Ship's log is always final authority.

    Angels - This is aviation talk to tell the listener what altitude the aircraft is flying. It is only used for altitudes above 1000 feet. Below 1000 feet the term 'cherubs' is used. Angels is also used by the Air Intercept Controller to tell a fighter or formation what altitude a contact is flying. Each angel indicates one-thousand feet of altitude. Example:

    "Foxtrot formation, this is Mother. Come to course zero double zero, ascend to altitude angels twelve. Bandit is dead ahead at angels fourteen." Sometimes, they do away with the angels stuff and just say, "Bandit at fourteen thousand feet." I think they cease using angels when it looks as if own force fighters are outnumbered and we want to keep them distracted from worrying about anything having to do with the after-life.

    AAA - Anti-Air Artillery. These are projectile-fired weapons designed to shoot at aircraft usually below 10,000 feet altitude. If you have ever watched any of the Desert Storm film, you can see these weapons filling the sky with their explosives. I thing of AAA functioning like a shotgun. If you put enough of them together, firing in the general vicinity you may luck out and have an aircraft fly into one of the shells.

    AAW - anti-air warfare. AAW is usually what surface ships do with their weapon systems against hostile aircraft.

    AFFF – Abbreviation for Aqueous Film Forming Foam. This firefighting agent is mixed with water to fight flammable liquid fires such as fuel. AFFF stations are usually located in those areas of the ship such as the flight deck and the engine rooms where flammable liquids are used/stored.

    Arrester Cables - Also called Arrester Wires. These are the cables stretched across the stern portion of an aircraft carrier to allow landing aircraft to use their tailhook to stop itself. More commonly referred to as 'wires' when landing.

    "Great landing, Top Hat. You caught the number three wire."

    Article 15 - This is an article in the Uniform Code of Military Justice that defines non-judicial punishment (NJP). In the Navy, we refer to NJP as Article 15. The other services have other names for NJP.

    ASW - Anti-submarine Warfare. Ships, aircraft, or a combination of the two can conduct ASW. Today, submarines are so sophisticated that the best way to fight them is for the surface ship to stay out of range of the submarine weapons and use its helicopters to locate, sink, or cause the threat submarine to surface. Also available are the shore-based P-3C Orions and the aircraft carrier based S-3s. Both carry sonobouys and torpedoes.

    ASuW - Anti-Surface Warfare. ASuW is naval action using ships, aircraft, or a combination of the two to take on, sink, or render harmless a threat surface unit.

    Assumed the con - An officer relieving his or her fellow officer of their responsibilities as the Officer-of-the-Deck (OOD) uses this statement: There is a short set of traditional verbiage that goes with this turnover of control (the word 'con' is short for control). When the relieving officer arrives on the bridge, he or she receives a brief from the on-duty OOD. There are questions and answers and then when the on-coming officer feels he or she has sufficient information to assume the duties of OOD, they go through a small ritual similar to the following:

    "I am ready to relieve you."

    "I am read to be relieved."

    "I relieve you. I have the con!"

    The enlisted member responsible for making the ship's log entry will record the event for posterity.

    Then the on-coming OOD, reaches for the handset and tells the skipper he or she has the con....unless it's oh-dark-thirty in the morning and you want your career to hang in tatters. Then, you just make the notation in the log.

    Athwartships – This is a Navy term, but have to say it's so hard to pronounce we usually tell each other to walk from one side of the ship to the other rather than telling them go athwartships. If you cross from the port side to the direct opposite starboard side then you have gone athwartships - crosswise of a ship. Another reason it isn't used much is because you have to be cold, stone sober to say it or your tongue and throat will lock-up and you'll choke to death. Another well known fact about athwartships is challenge of saying the following the tongue twister:

    "Peter picked a peck of pickled peppers athwartships."

    This could also be a great name for a Navy family to give a new-born child --- Athwartships Smith; Athwarships Roosevelt – Then again, no doubt such a child would be given a nickname before his or her first month of life by some sports-loving uncle who is number one in his bowling league.

    Auxiliary Intelligence Gathering (AGI) – a ship specifically designed to collect intelligence. Refers to Soviet trawlers who used to be stationed off western ports or following our aircraft carrier battle groups around the world. The USS Pueblo and USS Liberty are examples of American AGIs, though we have never called our own spy ships AGIs.

    Aweigh - When the anchor clears the waterline, it is aweigh, hence the term 'anchors aweigh.' It is also the starting words for the Navy song.

    Aye Aye - A notable Navy term used when acknowledging an order, a statement, or command. If replying to a senior officer, then the word 'sir' is added at the end. "Aye aye, sir." 'Aye' can be used by itself, but primarily when the speaker is going to add more to his or her reply, as in: "Aye, sir, I understand."


    Bandit - This identifies an enemy aircraft. A definite hostile that is open for intercept, identification, and possible engagement depending on the 'Rules of Engagement.'

    Barhopping - The active art of researching various establishments that serve alcoholic beverages and sometimes offer additional forms of entertainment. A successful barhop must encompass at least four or more bars with four or more buddies. Hitting two-bars means, "I went out and had drinks at a couple of bars." Three-bars means "Ole Shipmate and I had drinks at a couple of bars then a nightcap at one on the way back to the ship. Wanted to get in the rack before taps at 2200 hours." Four or more means, "We hit a couple of bars, stopped for a nightcap, ran into the rest of the gang and spent the remainder of the night ashore until the Shore Patrol caught us this morning and brought us back."

    Batten down - This is command to secure all hatches and portholes. Usually associated with oncoming bad weather.

    "Batten down all hatches!" cried the Sailor as he staggered up the gangplank and fell facedown at the foot of the Officer of the Deck. Looking up, his head swaying side to side, he slurred, "On second thought, secure the gangplank."

    Bells - Ships still use this tradition handed down from the Royal Navy to our fledging Revolutionary Navy to today's Navy. Bells are struck (never rang) for such things as to inform the crew of the time and as a sign of respect for arriving and departing senior officers. For example, an arriving Admiral would rate six sideboys and six strikes of the bells. Bells are struck in groups of two. You would never strike a bell six times in a row; you would strike is in three groups of two.

    Ex: Ding-ding (pause) ding-ding (pause) ding-ding

    Below – downstairs – sometimes beneath athwartships.

    Big boy - Refers to the largest ships afloat; aircraft carriers, amphibious carriers, tenders. Not to be confused with the term sometimes used by ladies of the night to a young sailor: "Hey, Big Boy, you wanna good time? You wanna buy me Honda?" This term cannot be used in referring to female sailors unless you want to find yourself at sick call with something manmade protruding from your head.

    Bingo - Term used to tell a pilot that he or she has had enough attempts to land on board an aircraft carrier and calculations show that they have sufficient fuel to 'bingo' to an alternate shore landing strip. "Tammy-14, bingo Sigonella. No more bounces."

    Birds - means aircraft. "I have birds feet wet, bearing zero double zero," the Air Intercept Controller broadcast to the Combat Air Patrol orbiting over the aircraft carrier. Of course, if the AIC knows those birds are enemy, he or she will most likely use the term 'bandits.'

    Black shoe - Sometimes used to refer to those officers and sailors in the surface, submarine, and staff lines. See 'brown shoes' for aviation community.

    Blanket party - Awarded to a shipmate who refuses to bathe or has done something to piss off his shipmates. Strictly against Navy regulations and haven't heard of it happening in the last decade or so. What usually happens is that in the dead of night a group of sailors will sneak up on the sleeping victim, throw a blanket over his head, and rough him up soundly.

    Boathook - A long stick with a hook on the end designed to reach out and put a line over something, recover something that has fallen overboard, or to hook something to pull the boat closer.

    Boatswain Mates - These are truly the ones who have inherited the historic mantle from those who first sailed in America's Navy. They work hard, speak a true nautical language that confuses the more technical ratings in the Navy and, without them, a Navy ship would fall apart or eventually only have rust holding it together. They wear crossed-anchors as their rating badge.

    Boatswain Mate of the Watch (BMOW) - This is a watch station on the bridge stood by a Boatswain Mate. They are responsible for the security of the bridge and they make 1MC announcements as ordered by the OOD or Commanding Officer. They are also responsible for the cleanliness of the bridge. The BMOW is also a qualified helmsman capable of assuming the helm. When junior personnel are being trained on the helm, the BMOW will either do it or watch the training closely. They are also known for their practical jokes such as one on the USS Spruance (DD-963)

    About two o'clock in the morning, the BMOW sent a junior Boatswain Mate to the Captain's inport cabin to feed the Captain's goldfish. The Captain had no goldfish, but the junior BM didn't know that. Luckily, we thought, when out at sea, the Captain doesn't sleep in his or her inport cabin, he or she sleeps in their at-sea cabin, located near the bridge.

    Thirty minutes later, the junior Boatswain Mate returned to report that he was unable to find the goldfish. The BMOW then commenced to chew him out for losing the Captain's goldfish. When finished, the junior sailor, in a soft voice, relayed that after failing to find the Captain's goldfish in the inport cabin, he had gone to the Captain's at-sea cabin and woke him to see if the goldfish were there. The snickers and laughter on the bridge stopped abruptly. If it had been daylight, I'm sure we would have seen no blood in the face of the BMOW. The BMOW finally cleared his throat and asked the young sailor what did the Captain say. The sailor replied that the Captain asked who sent him to feed his goldfish and he told the Captain that the Boatswain Mate of the Watch had because he was concerned that the Captain's goldfish hadn't been fed that day. The Captain told the young sailor that he was right. His goldfish hadn't been fed that day and it was the responsibility of the BMOW on this watch to see that they were fed. The Captain went on to instruct the young man to tell the Boatswain Mate of the Watch that if his goldfish weren't found by breakfast the BMOW was going to be confined to the ship for the remainder of this deployment. At which point, the Captain had laid back down and pulled the sheet over him.

    Boatswain pipe - A thin metal whistle Boatswain Mates use to alert the crew on the 1MC. This distinctive whistle is also used to honor arriving/departing senior officers and government officials. It can also be heard at Navy retirement ceremonies as they pipe the retiring Navy member over the side from the Naval service.

    Bogey - An unidentified air contact.

    Bollard - This is a squat cylindrical fixture attached to a pier or dock to secure mooring lines of ships. They range in sizes depending on the size of ships expected to tie up.

    Bravo Zulu - This is the Navy NATO alphabet and fly signal for 'well done.' It is used in message traffic, emails, and letters to denote 'well done.' It is also used during Joint Duty with the other services to confuse them.

    Bridge - This is where the Officer-of-the-Deck drives the ship. It is usually located in the forward part of the forecastle and surrounded by windows so those standing the watch can see where they are going. Along with the OOD will, at a minimum, be a Junior Officer-of-the-Deck (JOOD), a navigator, a helmsman (he or she steers the ship), and a Boatswain Mate of the Watch (BMOW)

    Bridge coat - A bridge coat is the same as a p-coat except this woolen heavy weather coat reaches past the knees and is designed to be worn by those standing watches on the bridge of ships in the worse of winter weathers. See p-coat for more information.

    Brown shoes - U.S. Navy personnel in the aviation community are sometimes referred to as 'brown shoes.' Brown shoes were originally allowed to be worn by aviators around 1913 and with a brief exception in the 1920s continues today. Recently, the Navy authorized officers and chiefs who are non-aviation community the option of wearing brown shoes much to the angst of the aviation community.

    Bubblehead - an affectionate term for a submariner though for some reason you never hear them use it.

    Buddy system - Usually ordered by the Captain of the ship when in an unfamiliar port. Means you leave the ship with at least one other shipmate and when you return, you return with the same shipmate. No trading shipmates in the middle of liberty. This allows the Officer of the Deck to maintain a better muster of everyone's whereabouts. It also allows the ship's company to support each other while ashore.

    Bull's eye - A square patch on a bulkhead. Usually painted yellow with a series of numbers in black within it. Those numbers tell the cognizant sailor which frame of the ship he or she stands; whether they are on the starboard or port side; what deck he or she is on; and sometimes identifies for what the compartment is used.

    Buoy - these floating objects anchored to the seabed provide navigational data to the mariner when the ship is operating in coastal waters.

  • Can Buoy - These are green cylindrical-shaped buoys with odd numbers on them and they mark the right side of the navigation channel when a ship is leaving port.
  • Nun Buoy - These are red cone-shaped buoys with even numbers on them and they mark the left side of the navigation channel when a ship is leaving port.
  • Buster - This term gives the pilot permission to go to full power/full throttle. Most likely given when the pilot is hurrying to intercept inbound enemy fighters or, heaven forbid, running from them.


    Captain's Mast - This is where those awarded an Article-15 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice appear before the Commanding Officer to present their argument. If not dismissed, the CO may award certain non-judicial punishment up to and including brig time. Ashore, an accused has the right to request a Court Martial thereby raising the stakes if he or she is found guilty. At sea, the Commanding Officer makes the decision.

    Capsize - When a ship turns over, its topside underwater and its hull on the surface. Events such as this ruin a good day.

    CAR-15 - The weapon of choice for Special Operating Forces. They have a mixed bag when they go into the battle, but the Colt CAR-15 is an assault carbine that can fire on automatic or semi-automatic bursts.

    Carry on – An order to continue whatever you were doing. Here's a bit a trivia. Senior personnel never say "aye aye" to junior personnel; they say "carry on," and vice versa applies.

    Cast off – A command to throw something away, or to disconnect from something such as a dock or pier.

    Chain locker – Located in the forward portion of the ship near the bow. It is where the chain to the anchor is stored.

    CH-53 Sea Stallion - This is one of my favorite helicopters and I use it a lot in my books. It is designed to carry supplies and passengers. During amphibious warfare, the Sea Stallion can transport warriors ashore and then continue to support them while they are engaged in combat. The CH-53 is capable of taking off and landing aboard most U.S. warships. It can lift in excess of 6.5 tons and carry around 40 soldiers/Marines.

    Chaff - Small bits of aluminum foil of various lengths and sizes, and fired from 'chaff launchers' by the electronic warfare operator as a means to confuse an enemy missile seeker. A missile seeker refers to the radar in the nosecone of a missile that is attempting to lock on a radar return. Chaff obscures the radar return. It does little against an infrared seeker that is searching the area for an infrared signature. For infrared seekers, the electronic warfare operator uses flares. Just another example of the complex layers of naval warfare. Even while bullets are flying, there is a battle for control of the unseen electromagnetic battlefield.

    Chain of Command - I think most of you understand what this means. We all have a boss above us. We like to think we are independent, but in the military services there is always one-more above you until you reach the President of the United States who is the Commander in Chief. Then he only answers to Congress, the American people, and his wife. So, you might say, regardless of where we are in authority, we all answer to the will of the American people. Moreover, that will is exercised through the voting process, so if you don't vote, you don't have much authority on what is going on in America.

    Charlie - The expected landing time of a specific aircraft aboard an aircraft carrier. It also is a term used to denote 'correct. "That's a Charlie," the TAO broadcast to the other members of the Surface Action Group.

    Cherubs - Used by aircraft to identify their height in feet once under angels one (1,000 feet). Helicopters would use it more as a constant than fixed wing or jet aircraft.

    "Homeplate, this is Helo One. We are Cherubs 200, inbound for landing, helo pad four." This transmission tells the tower a lot, including that the helicopter is flying at 200 feet.

    Chief Petty Officer - There are three grades of Chief Petty Officers in the navy. There is the Chief Petty Officer, Senior Chief Petty officer, and Master Chief Petty officer. Their paygrades are E-7, E-8, and E-9. They wear the same uniforms as officers, but with their own rank insignias. Chiefs are considered to be technical experts in their specialties and various Chief of Naval Operations (CNO - Top Admiral in the Navy) have formally tasked them with two primary responsibilities: (1) Pass their technical expertise on to the junior men and women who follow in their footsteps, and (2) train junior officers. As a chief I once knew was fond of saying, "The only thing worse than an Ensign with an idea, is a Lieutenant Junior Grade with a plan."

    Chit - Refers to a sheet of paper. Term is used to indicate 'Report Chit', when someone is being 'written up' for doing something he or she shouldn't have. 'Leave chit' when someone wants to take what civilians call a 'vacation.' 'Work chit' when maintenance is needed on a piece of equipment.

    Circle William - This is the setting on board ship that closes ventilation ducts and circulation systems in defense against a chemical, biological, or nuclear warfare attack. It seals the interior of the ship against outside elements. It is also the name of the best seller by William Harlow, a retired Navy Captain.

    Classification - This is a term used to associate the security classification of information. We have 'Top Secret,' which means information if disclosed could cause grave harm to national security; 'Secret' for information if disclosed could cause serious harm to national security; and 'Confidential' for information if disclosed could harm national security. There are handling classifications such as 'NOFORN,' which means 'No Foreign Dissemination' and 'FOUO' for information that is unclassified, but restricted 'For Official Use Only.'

    Cleat - T-shaped pieces of metal fixtures along the edge of a ship deck where lines are secured. Mooring lines are usually tied to cleats when a ship is tied up at a pier.

    Cold nose - A term used by pilots to announce that their radar is turned off. Radars for fighter and ground support aircraft are located in their noses. When you're conducting air-to-air refueling, for safety reasons you turn off your radars.

    "My nose is cold," broadcast the F-14 pilot to the Air Force tanker as he started his rear-hemispheric approach to the huge KC-135 flying a steady and straight course above him.

    Colors – This is the Navy term associated with raising our National Ensign (Old Glory) at 0800 every morning and then, taking it down at sunset. The Army, on the other hand, raises the American Flag at sunrise and takes it down at 1700 hours daily.

    Combat Air Patrol (CAP) - An aircraft or formation assigned the responsibility to orbit over or near friendly forces so they can engage approaching or threatening forces that may endanger own forces below. Own forces beneath a CAP can be ships, ground forces, or even other aircraft such as bombers, reconnaissance, and/or ground support aircraft. CAP aircraft usually orbit in a figure-eight or race-track pattern at a constant altitude.

    Combat Information Center (CIC) - This is the nerve center from where a ship is fought. The CIC compartment is filled with sensitive electronic equipment to include radars, electronic-warfare sensors, and sonar. It is usually a darkened space operating in a blue-lighted environment to maintain night vision and encourage low noise level by those on watch.

    Command Master Chief - The senior enlisted member of a command. Reports directly to the Commanding Officer. Not just any Master Chief can be a Command Master Chief. It is a competitive job where qualified Master Chief Petty Officers are chosen by a board specifically for the job of Command Master Chief. Once chosen, unless he or she really screws up or elects to get out of this line of work, they will remain CMCs for the remainder of their careers going from one command to the other. The Commanding Officer relies on his or her CMC to keep him or her abreast of the health and welfare of the enlisted community under his or her command. Through the CMC's special relationship with others in the Chief Petty Officer ranks, he or she is expected to bring command issues to the attention of the Commanding Officer. The CMC must be able to close the door with the skipper, let the skipper know exactly what his or her thoughts are, and once the skipper has made up his or her mind on a course of action; that same CMC must be able to step outside and fully support the decision. Of course, this is if nothing illegal is occurring.

    Compartment - Navy for room such as you would have in house.

    Constant Bearing, Decreasing Range (CBDR) - Usually announced with just the first letters of each word - CBDR. At sea, there are few reference points to help determine if your ship is endanger of being rammed. One of the heuristic rules of navigation is that if an object maintains a constant bearing from you, but its range is decreasing, then it's going to collide with you.

    "Sir," said the navigator, looking up from the surface search radar. "We have a contact CBDR - bearing zero one zero, range twenty-five thousand yards."

    At which point, everyone on the bridge rushes over to take a visual sighting on this threat. By varying course and speed, the OOD change CBDR unless the object really does want to hit you in which case the ship weapons systems become an important addition to the navigation team.

    CBDR works well for an automobile driver when trying to gauge merging traffic on an expressway.

    Contact - Means radar reflections have revealed an object. The object could be friendly or enemy, but it is still something revealed on radar. "I have radar contact," he said.

    Cruiser - A class of ship designed primarily for anti-air warfare. It carries Surface-to-Air Missiles systems and usually assigned to aircraft carrier battle groups or amphibious task forces for the purpose of providing protection against threat air attack.

    Crow's Nest - This is the highest point on the ship from which a lookout can be placed. On today's modern warship, the crow's nest no longer exists. This is another term passed down to the Navy from the Vikings. The Vikings kept a crow or other land bird caged on their vessels to help guide them to land if they became lost. They would release the bird, believing that once released the bird would head directly for land.

    Cryptologic Technician - Once they were known as Communications Technician. Sailors in this rating are consider the cyber warriors of the U.S. Navy as well as experts in electronic warfare and cryptology. There are six ratings within the Cryptologic Technician field. I was a Cryptologic Technician Interpretive when I was enlisted and was trained in Arabic and French. I served as a Chief Petty Officer CTI for three years until the Navy realized how horrible I was in my technical field and promoted me out of it to Ensign.

    Cyclops class - Coastal patrol and interdiction surveillance ships that are 170 feet in length and designed for shallow water operations. Four officers and 24 sailors man these ships, which are armed with one Mark 96 and one Mark 38 25mm machine guns; 5/. 50 caliber machine guns; two Mark 19 40mm automatic grenade launchers; and, to round out this magnificent close-in weapons array are two M-60 machine guns. After 9/11, the U.S. Navy transferred the USS Cyclone (PC-1) to the United States Coast Guard. This ship appears in JOINT TASK FORCE AMERICA.


    Dead reckoning - This a navigational calculation of a ship's position based on its known course and speed. As a ship continues to move along a defined course at a known speed outside influences such as current and wind will affect its location so 'dead reckoning' becomes less accurate the longer it is used. Eventually the sailor must go to his or her sextant or use the modern equivalent - Geopositional Satellites.

    Deep six – When you throw something overboard into the ocean, you 'deep six' it. Within certain distances of land, you aren't authorized to 'deep six' anything.

    Destroyer - A class of ship whose primary purpose is to search, detect, and destroy submarines. Today's anti-submarine warfare techniques involve minimum of two destroyers and two helicopters for every submarine. Personally, I suggest just using the helicopters. Submariners are a sneaky bunch and nothing gives them greater pleasure than sinking a destroyer, even if it's only simulated during an exercise and when they are successful they take abnormally great glee in telling everyone.

    Devil and the Deep - This 'saying' originated from the days of sail when the 'devil' was the longest seam of the ship. This seam ran all the way from the bow to the stern. When the 'devil' began to leak, it was necessary for a sailor to be lifted over the side to caulk the 'devil' hence placing him over the 'deep' blue sea.

    Direction Finding Radar - this electronic warfare device allows electronic warfare operators tell the Captain from which direction radar emissions are coming. It is indeed an important sensor when the ship is traveling in EMCON to avoid electronic warfare devices of the enemy to detect it.

    Double-nuts - No. It's not what you think. It's an Aviation term associated with the side number of an aircraft that ends with two zeros. "Red Shirt!" shouted the Carrier Air Group Commander, "Move double nuts so we can shift the Hornet into that space."

    Dump fuel - a bowel movement before a flight. Sometimes referred to as a 'combat dump.' It is also the formal term for ridding an aircraft of excess aviation fuel when approaching a landing where the pilot has to shed as much weight as possible. Depending on the seriousness of the situation, both definitions of the term could occur.


    EA-3B Skywarrior - This aircraft was decommissioned in 1993. I was in Rota, Spain when Captain-ret Jack Taylor visited to help retire it. It flew reconnaissance missions in support of strike aircraft during Desert Storm and I had the honor of being the Commanding Officer of Naval Reconnaissance Support Activity providing high skilled Cryptologic crews to Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron Two (VQ-2) as it forward deployed every EA-3B and EP-3E in its inventory to the war. Lot of sleepless nights worrying about the young men and women who flew these vintage aircraft into harm's way. We were one of the most decorated activities for our size to come out of Desert Storm and was nominated by the Navy for the prestigious National Security Agency's Director's Trophy.

    Eight bells - During the days of sail a sailor couldn't afford to own a watch so depended on the bells to tell him the time of day. The bells are struck to identify which watch was being stood. Each bell constitutes a half-hour. With the exception of the dog-watch, each watch is 4-hours. Therefore, if a watch is stood successful until the ringing of eight-bells it is said, "Eight bells and all's well."

    Electronic warfare (EW) - Electronic Warfare is fighting in the electromagnetic spectrum. Purposes of EW are to (1) protect friendly forces electronic sensors (Electronic Counter Counter-Measures - ECCM); (2) Detect enemy sensors (Electronic Security Measures - ESM); and, (3) disrupt enemy sensor (Electronic Counter Measures - ECM). Cryptologic Technicians Technical rating, which recently combined with the Electronic Warfare rating, is the Navy's premier EW warrior.

    ELINT - Acronym for Electronic Intelligence. It is the intelligence gleaned from analysis of electromagnetic signals emanating from non-communications devices such as radars.

    EMCON - is the acronym for 'Emission Control.' When a ship is attempting to avoid or reduce detection by threat sensors of its radars and communications, certain levels of EMCON are implemented. This becomes harder to do with email capability on all ships and sailors confiding locations and activities to their spouses, friends, and relatives ashore. Recently, emails have become part of the EMCON restrictions.

    EP-3E - The Navy's premier reconnaissance aircraft. A variant of the P3-C anti-submarine and maritime reconnaissance aircraft. Flown by VQ-1 (Whidbey Island, Washington) and VQ-2 (Rota, Spain). I have over 3000 hours in the EP-3E and have both aircrew and Naval Observer Wings in it. Alas, my flying days are over and like a fisherman, I discover my sea tales expand about the missions as the months and years pass.


    Fast – When you secure the end of a line to a cleat and jerked it tight, you have made fast the line. A simple definition would be fast means to tie tightly.

    Fathom – This is a measurement of depth. One fathom equals six feet. This term originally was a land term coming from an old Anglo-Saxon word 'faetm' meaning to embrace. The distance from the fingertips of one outstretched arm to the fingertips of the other outstretched arm was considered a faetm. This distance was approximately six feet. Also, the term fathom means to figure out something. "She is trying to fathom what the hell went wrong."

    Feeling Blue – This term originated from sailing ships. When a Captain or officer died at sea, the ships flew blue flags and would paint a blue band around its hull when returning to port. Today, this term is associated with being sad.

    Feet Dry - A term used by aviators to announce when they have crossed from flying over a large body of water such as an ocean, bay, or sea to flying over land.

    Feet Wet - A term used by aviators to announce when they have crossed from flying over land to flying over a large body of water such as an ocean, bay, or sea.

    Field day - civilians would say clean up; sailors say field day. When the Chief Petty Officer or Leading Petty Officer decides a compartment or area needs cleaning, they line up a working party and tell them to field day. Example:

    "Alright, you Christly twits, this berthing compartment is unfit for human habitation. Before you're going on liberty, you're going to field day this place so clean that I can eat off of it. Now, get busy!" Petty Officer First Class Jones commanded, jabbing his finger at the angry bunch of sailors in front of him.

    First Lieutenant – Usually the division officer for the Deck Division. Most of Deck Division is made up of boatswain mates and unrated seamen. The First Lieutenant reports to the Executive Officer (called 'XO.') of the ship for the cleanliness of the topside of the ship.

    Fivers - A communications term used to denote perfect communications.

    "How do you read me?" Captain Duncan James broadcast to the submarine off shore.

    "I have you fivers, sir," the voice on the other end replied.

    Of course you can have readings of 'one by five,' two by five,' 'three by five,' and 'four by five' with each one providing the listener with a gauge of how clear his or her transmissions are.

    Forecastle - The forward part of the ship where the bridge usually located. This is another Viking word that has survived in the maritime services of the English speaking nations. Vikings used to build fortifications (castles) at the front and rear of their long boats from where archers could fire.

    Foreign Objects (FOD) - Refers to trash and debris on a runway or flight deck that can be sucked into an aircraft's engine. Aviation squadrons and aircraft carriers conduct what is called a 'FOD walkdown' where members of the squadron or crew form up in a line abreast formation and walk along the runway or flight deck with their eyes focused on the ground or deck, picking up small objects that could ruin an aircraft engine and even cause a crash if they should somehow be sucked into the engine.

    Foul deck - Term used to tell a pilot the flight deck is not ready for landing. That something is occupying the very space he or she would like to put their aircraft. Not to be confused with foul language, which occurs when a pilot lands on a foul deck.

    Fox (followed by a number) - A term transmitted over radio communications by a pilot or a ship's fire controller to announce the launch of a missile. "Fox one, fox two, fox three away!" the pilot shouted as she launched three missiles at the oncoming enemy fighter formation.

    Flight deck - That portion of a ship upon which helicopters and/or aircraft take off and land. On an aircraft carrier, it's nearly the whole top deck, but on smaller ships such as cruisers, destroyers, or frigates, the flight deck is located aft, behind the bridge. On smaller ships, only helicopters and aircraft with a hover-take off capability like the Harrier can land on them. Even so, a Harrier is a huge aircraft to have to take onboard and I, for one, would hate to do it unless it was an emergency and the design of the ship could accommodate it.

    Flight jacket - a leather jacket first issued to Navy pilots in the 1930s. Haven't changed much since then. Provides warmth and is flexible to permit the pilot more freedom of movement when at the controls of an aircraft. These brown leather jackets have U.S.N. stamped on their collars and complements the brown shoes preferred by the aviation community. Fashion is very big to the well-dressed aviator and you would never, ever see one in a bridge coat or p-coat. They would be ostracized from the community as fast as if they had worn black shoes.

    Four-engine run - Used by P-3, C-130, and EP-3E aircrew to indicate that a shipmate is making a pass at a young lovely. Such as, "Hey, Shipmates. Look at Hung-low Harry. He's making a four-engine run on her."

    Four-inch run - A misuse of 'four-engine run' by someone pretending to be knowledgeable about P-3, C-130, and EP-3E aircrews episodes on liberty. "Gosh, guys. Look at Hung-low Harry. He's making a four-inch run on her." Then, again, maybe he or she knows something on Hung-low Harry the rest of us don't.

    FOAD - F@#! Off and Die. A quick response term to an unreasonable request; to someone you dislike; or for a myriad of other reasons. Can be used singularly; "FOAD," he replied. As a command; "Why don't you just FOAD!"

    Forward - Towards the front of the ship. The bow is forward of the bridge. "Sure, I saw the Captain. He was walking forward," meaning the Captain was walking in the direction of the bow.

    FUBAR - F@#! Up Beyond All Reason. "He's FUBAR'ed as Hogan's goat." "This is FUBAR! Did you hear what else the Skipper ordered done?" Can be used as a noun, adjective, or verb.

    Funnels - Those chimney looking things on a ship where the engine room exhausts its fumes. On nuclear warships, you won't see a funnel.

    Fartherest-on Circle (FOC) - This is an Anti-submarine term to denote the maximum range a submarine could have traveled since contact was lost.


    Galley - The kitchen of the ship. Probably derived from when sailors had to cook their own meals over brick or stone galleys.

    USS Gearing (DD-710) - The first ship I ever went to sea on. This destroyer was the first of her class. The current Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Vern Clark, is the only other active duty member that I know who has served on this decommissioned destroyer.

    Gear locker – A small compartment where stuff is stowed.

    Gear adrift – Stuff that is discovered out of its assigned location to include lost items of unknown ownership.

    Geedunk – A place where candy, drinks, are available. Can refer to machine dispensers to a cafeteria.

    Green deck - Term used to tell an aviator that the flight deck is cleared for landing.

    Ground pounder - Refers to Marines and Soldiers interchangeably. In aviation terms, it means a low level, ground attack by aircraft such as the A-10, A-6, and the F/A-18.

    Ground tackle - This is a catch-all term for the anchor, anchor chain, capstan and associated gear. Boatswain Mates are responsible for this part of the ship.

    Grunt - A term used by sailors, soldiers, and airmen to refer to United States Marine infantrymen, but then all Marines are infantrymen and not all of them are grunts.

    Gun Salutes – We still do gun salutes today. At the Pentagon, they even have a couple of artillery pieces specifically for rending gun salutes. If you visit any of the major Navy bases such as Norfolk, Little Creek, San Diego, and Jacksonville, Florida, you will find smaller guns designed for firing honors. This age old tradition came from the time when it took longer to load and fire a gun at sea, so when a warship was approaching a foreign port it would fire its guns as a sign of honor and to show the visiting port that the ship was unarmed.


    Hanger deck - The is the deck directly below an aircraft carrier flight deck where aircraft are taken for maintenance that requires a longer time than can be accomplished on the flight deck or when an aircraft is so banged up and broken that it is stored below the flight deck on this cavernous deck.

    Hanger Queen - I think you'd be hard pressed to find a squadron that didn't have a hanger queen. A hanger queen is an aircraft that is down-hard or suffers so many maintenance failures that it is used a source of spare parts to keep other aircraft up.

    Heads Up Display (HUD) - On the modern fighter aircraft the readings of the gauges are displayed on the cockpit front windshield so the pilot can see his or her speed, altitude, fuel as well as radar contact information. This display is done in such a fashion that it doesn't obscure the pilot's vision.

    Hellfire Missile - This is the AGM-114B, air-to-ground missile used by helicopters of the Navy, Army, and Air Force. It is primarily designed for anti-tank warfare, but has the capability of being used against slow-moving aircraft, fixed wing or helicopter.

    Helo - This is definitely the Navy and Marine Corps term for helicopter. Army calls them choppers, but then, of course, the Army uses HOOAH as a punctuation mark and universal answer to any question.

    Heave - This term has two meanings. For the ship, it means the weather is so bad that the whole ship is being shoved up and down instead of riding up the crest of a wave and down the other side. For the sailor, it means a heavy liberty and a weak stomach. New additions to the Navy should always be given the bottom bunk—not because it's the worse location, but because of the heaves. You never want to be on the bottom bunk when the sailor on the top bunk has the heaves. Just save yourself, grab your linen, and find another place to bunk for the night.

    Holystone – We don't use this today. The last teak decked ships we had on active duty were the battleships. To clear teak and other wooden decked ships, sailors would have to use a piece of sandstone to scrub them. Somewhere in history is lost the enterprising sailor who dubbed the sandstone, holystone, probably because you had to be on your knees to scrub the wood.

    Homeport - This is the port where the warship is based. Here, the sailors come home to families and the ship takes time to replenish, do needed maintenance, and allow its crew some time to recover from the long time away from home.

    Honky-Dory - Means 'okay.' This term was derived from early sailing days of liberty calls in Yokohama, Japan, where the inhabitants of Honky-Dori Street catered to the pleasure of the sailors.

    HOOAH! - This is the unofficial battle cry of the United States Army. It is also used in everyday conversation. It can be a greeting and it can mean anything from 'yes, I understand,' to 'you're right & I agree with you.' I have also seen it used to respond to senior officer tasking when the respondent had no idea what he or she was supposed to do. They just shout 'HOOAH' and it always seems to be the right answer. (I discovered it doesn't work for Navy officers.) The Marine Corps has a similar battle cry in that they use 'OORAY.'



    Jacks - A lesser form of Three-Jacks. New comers to the art of social grace within the confines of an aerial vehicle usually use this term to announce their contribution to the atmosphere.


    Knot - This is the term used at sea to denote the speed of the ship. One knot is equal to 1.15 miles per hour.


    Liberty - Free time ashore given to a sailor when he or she is in a liberty port or gone ashore at homeport.

    Liberty Port - A 'port call' where the ship's crew is being allowed free time off the ship to partake of the local scenery. Most Sailors use this opportunity to visit libraries, take photographs of churches, and listen to the local history. Then when that hour of 'mandatory fun' is completed, they like to relax with a fine bottle of wine, good food, and comradeship. Good liberty ports are global. When sailors find one where the people and the hospitality are legendary, then the Navy tries to do a 'port call' as much as possible to those places.

    Life-Line/s – Lines put up around the ship's weather decks to help prevent sailors from falling or being washed overboard.

    Lifer - Any sailor with more than four-years of service and has reenlisted for at least one more tour.

    Lock-on - Primarily, this is the term when a fire control radar has 'locked-on' to a target.

    "I have lock-on. Request permission to fire?" the pilot broadcast.

    It also has another use.

    "I have lock-on," the young officer said to his buddies, pointing to the two young ladies who were entering the Officer's Club.


    "Make a hole" - a naval term meaning to step aside sharply so that someone or some group can pass more easily and quickly.

    Making diamonds – A job that has such a high level of stress that it is referred to as 'making diamonds' in reference to the high geological stress needed to turn carbon into this precious jewel.

    Mandatory fun - Extracurricular activity where 'all-hands' are expected to participate regardless of their desires. Command picnics; command Christmas parties; command sporting events; etc. The funny thing, is that most times these events are fun, entertaining, build morale, and build a sense of unity. Personally, I have always preferred the beer-softball games to build a sense of unity. Such sporting events among various commands promote a sense of comradeship most times. Of course, there are the poor losers. Just make sure they aren't senior to you in the chain of command.

    Maneuvering Board - A large sheet with the diagram of a compass filling the center and dotted lines leading out from the center in the directions of the compass. It is used on the bridge and in Combat Information Center to do quick calculations to determine a surface contact course, speed, and closest point of approach. It also allows the user to determine what changes to own course and speed will do to that closest point of approach.

    Mark V Special Operations Craft - Used to carry Navy SEALs (or other special operations forces (SOF)) into and out of combat operations. They are 82 feet in length, weight 57 tons, and have a maximum speed of 50 knots. 50 knots! Yeap! That's because instead of propellers and shafts like most ships, boats, and crafts, the Mark V uses two 2285 HP TD 94 engines to drive two K50S waterjets. Has a crew of 5 and can carry up to 16 passengers. For weapons this small, but fast SOC has 5 mounting positions for 7.62MM, 12.7MM, and 40MM guns. Some also have the 7.62 Gatling guns and shoulder-launched STINGER Surface-to-Air missiles. This craft is prominent in JOINT TASK FORCE AMERICA.

    May Day - International cry for help. Derived from the French m'aidez (help me).

    MH-53J Pave Low - This variant of the CH-53 Sea Stallion is designed to support Special Operations Forces (SOF) deep penetration into hostile territory. It is operated by the United States Air Force, has armor plating, and is heavily armed with 7.62MM and .50 caliber machine guns. The Pave Low can carry approximately 40 SOF personnel.

    Minesweeper - A ship designed specifically to clear an area of water of mines. Helicopters such as the MH-53E Sea Dragon are designed specifically for minesweeping.

    Missile launcher - A weapon on board a ship that has the capability of launching a missile. They come in various shapes and sizes. In the modern warship, most missile launchers are flush with the deck, sealed with quick release metal doors. This gives the ship the advantage of mixing and matching its missiles to the mission. Doesn't do much good to shoot an anti-submarine missile at an aircraft unless the aircraft has crashed, is sinking, and you just want to make sure it blows up as it goes down. As a submariner friend once told me when we were arguing about the value of aircraft to submarines, "There are more aircraft in the ocean then submarines in the air." I think he won the argument. I know I walked around for days mumbling that sentence. I am still trying to make sense of it.

    Mooring Lines - These are the lines (lines are what civilians would call a rope) that secure a ship alongside a pier. Larger ships require more and bigger mooring lines than smaller ones. I would cast my opinion that the average number of mooring lines is eight. One for the bow, one for the stern and along the side of the ship the remaining two pairs form an 'X' over each other as they are tied off between the cleat on board the ship and bollard on the pier. This 'X' helps the ship maintain a stationary position against the pull of the tide.

    Murder board - slang for a group who's express purpose is to review a plan or proposal and try to find things wrong with it. This is done a lot with military operations. Better to be your own critic than have the enemy do it for you.

    Mustang - An officer who came up through the enlisted ranks. I am a mustang. There are arguments within the mustang community on just what constitutes the right to be called a mustang. Some say, you must have been commissioned as a Limited Duty Officer while most say that if you were in the enlisted community for any appreciable length of time you can be called a mustang.

    Muster - This term is used to reflect role call, where the whereabouts of all hands are determined. When you have a 'man overboard' announcement, everyone on the ship runs to their appointed duty station. Those not actively involved in the search and rescue of the unfortunate soul gather at a prescribed location on the ship and 'muster.' Muster reports are a daily occurrence out at sea where divisions report number assigned against known sailor locations. For example, a division officer may have twenty sailors assigned, fifteen at muster, four on watch, and one on leave visiting his parents. Other than the information about visiting his parent, the muster report would be traditionally reported to the Officer of the Deck on the bridge. On board most ships, the muster report is turned-in to the administrative office where they prepare a ship-wide muster report to deliver to the Officer of the Deck.


    Nautical mile - 2000 yards.

    Naval Gunfire Support (NGFS) - This is a Navy function in support of the Marine Corps when they storm ashore. The purpose is for Navy ships to lay down supporting artillery fire until the Marines have established a presence ashore. This NGFS continues as long as the Navy guns can reach inland. After that, it is up to the ground-support aircraft to pave the way for the Marines as they charge forward, taking ground, and killing any enemy that confronts them.

    Navigation - the science of determining a ship's exact location and the movement of the ship using course and speed to arrive at a planned destination. I would submit that more Skippers have lost their jobs because of faulty navigation than any one factor while serving in Command at Sea billets. As a rule, running aground is 'bad navigation.'

    Navy Jack – A square flag flown from the bow of the ship when the ship is anchored or tied up. It has thirteen horizontal alternating red and white stripes with a superimposed moving rattlesnake with the words "Don't Tread on Me" written below it. Until 2002, the Union Jack, the 50-star field from the National Ensign, was flown from the bow of American warships. Chief of Naval Operations has ordered the Navy Jack to be flown during the War on Terrorism. This is one great bit of Navy Tradition traced back to the first Navy ships of 1775 during the Revolutionary War.

    [David E. Meadows / SixthFleet.Com]

    Navy Special Warfare Command - commonly called NAVSPEWARCOM. This is the Navy component of Special Operations Command (see SOCOM). Its mission is to train Navy Special Operations Forces (read: SEALS, EOD, SDV) to carry out assigned missions and to develop strategy, doctrine, and tactics.

    Navy time – The military runs on the 24-hour clock regardless of which time zone. The other time element used by the American military is Zulu time, which is Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). This standardizes time across the globe and enables all military forces to know what time to do something or to stop doing something. Imagine conducting a multiple time zone attack with everyone using different times. We say it in hundredths: "Officer of the Deck, I show twelve hundred." Sometimes we add the word 'hours' after the time. "I've got fourteen hundred hours for the meeting." If the time is GMT, then the user will use the word 'Zulu' denoting the GMT time zone to further highlight the time. "Admiral, the flagship has requested we delay our naval gunfire support until zero four hundred hours Zulu."

  • 0000 - Midnight
  • 0100 - 1:00AM
  • 0200 - 2:00AM
  • 0300 - 3:00AM
  • 0400 - 4:00AM
  • 0500 - 5:00AM
  • 0600 - 6:00AM
  • 0700 - 7:00AM
  • 0800 - 8:00AM
  • 0900 - 9:00AM
  • 1000 - 10:00AM
  • 1100 - 11:00AM
  • 1200 - Noon
  • 1300 - 1:00PM
  • 1400 - 2:00PM
  • 1500 - 3:00PM
  • 1600 - 4:00PM
  • 1700 - 5:00PM
  • 1800 - 6:00PM
  • 1900 - 7:00PM
  • 2000 - 8:00PM
  • 2100 - 9:00PM
  • 2200 - 10:00PM
  • 2300 - 11:00PM
  • Navy Shower - This is a water-saving technique used at-sea. Sailors enter a shower, turn it on, get wet, turn the shower off, soap up, turn the shower on, wash off the soap, turn the shower off, and get out. If civilians used this technique, challenges of drought would be significantly diminished.


    Officer-of-the-deck (OOD) - This is the officer responsible for the movements of the ship while he or she is on watch. This duty is stood on the bridge of the ship and any orders to change the direction of travel, speed, or condition of the ship must be relayed through the Officer-of-the-Deck, even if the one giving the orders are senior to him or her and standing right beside the OOD. Now, the Captain can take away the OOD's responsibilities, but to do so, the Captain must announce in a loud voice that he or she has 'assumed the con.'

    Oiler - a class of ship with the primary purpose of delivering fuel to ships at sea using a complicated and dangerous method called 'underway replenishment.'

    1MC - this is the primary announcement system on board a ship. It can be used on the bridge, quarterdeck, or Combat Information Center, though the bridge while at-sea and the quarterdeck while in-port are the primary places for this valuable all-hands communications.

    One-way - A term used to describe someone who did something for their own benefit without thinking of their fellow shipmates. For example; Seaman Jones goes to the Geedunk and returns with all sorts of nibbles for himself without asking his fellows sailors on watch if he could bring them something. He is considered not only 'one-way,' but see the term 'dick-head' for applicability. (Opps! Sorry, but I took the term 'Dick-head' out of the glossary because I thought it might be too nautical for some.)

    OORAY! - The Marine Corps battle cry. I read an article recently that it was derived from the Sanskrit alphabet. I have also heard that it evolved from the Rebel battle cry during the Civil War. Wherever it came from, it has a great psychological impact on enemy forces when thousands of crazed Marines come over the hill screaming this cry at the top of their voice. It is also disruptive to a Navy cookout along a beach when it happens (See Skivvy marks). The Army has a similar one in that they use 'HOOAH!'


    P-coat/Pea Coat - Spelled both ways. The P-coat is heavy woolen coat designed to protect the sailor from the icy elements of the open sea. Ten buttons line its front with the coat stopping around the top of the hips. Aviators would rather be seen dead than wearing a p-coat. Even if the temperatures were below zero degrees Fahrenheit, they'd watch their lips fall off before slipping on a p-coat in lieu of the famed flight jacket. See Bridge Coat and Flight Jacket.

    Poop deck - This is a partial deck located aft and above the main deck.

    Port call - When a ship is leaving its primary mission of boring holes in the ocean and is taking the crew into a port where the ship is not homeported, then it's called a 'port call.' Sometimes sailors will substitute the name 'liberty port' for 'port call,' though there are slight nuances of different. You can't have a 'liberty port' without a 'port call,' but you can have a 'port call' without it being a 'liberty port.' Sailors don't care for those type of 'port calls.'


    Quarterdeck - This is not really a deck, but a designated place for official functions, signing of chits, and usually only activated in port. The location of the quarterdeck in port is determined by how the ship is moored because people leaving and coming aboard a Navy vessel pass through the quarterdeck.


    Rank ladder – This is what we refer to as promotion levels. As you become more proficient within your rating and have more time in the United States Navy, you can expect to be promoted—moving up the rank ladder.

    Rating – A job specialty. Sailors work within specific jobs with the expectations of earning promotions in their field. These specific jobs are called ratings such at the 'Cryptologic Technician' 'Boatswain Mate' 'Information Technician' 'Personnelman' 'Yeoman.' Once in a specific rating it becomes increasingly harder to change to another job specialty as you go up the 'rank ladder.'

    Relative direction - uses bow of ship as 000 degrees and stern as 180 degrees. When something is relative to the ship, it is in the relative direction in relation to the bow of the ship. True direction, on the other hand, is directly related to the magnetic compass.

    Replacement Air Group (RAG) - RAG is the common way it is pronounced. Only newcomers and Surface Warfare Officers would say the whole three words. RAG is where new pilots are trained and familiarized with the specific aircraft they are going to be flying. Pilots detailed to a job where their flying skills are shelved for a while will be ordered through the 'RAG' before reporting to their next duty station.

    Richard Whiskey - Slang for....Ah, never mind. You'll have to figure it out. Think NATO phonetics or cockney.

    Roll - when the ship oscillates one direction, stops, then oscillates to the other, it is said to be in a roll.

    Rules of Engagement - Formal rules laid out by the commanding authority that tells own forces what constitutes authority to engage a hostile force or element. As a rule, if they fire on you, you can fire back with lethal force.

    Running lights - These lights are required to show when steaming at night. (Of course, in time of war, this requirement is sometimes shelved.) For example: A red light burns on the starboard side of the ship; a green light is on the port side of the ship. There are different colored lights on the main mast that tell an observer the length of the ship; sometimes the material shape of the ship; and, sometimes what type of operation the ship is engaged. A small white light is mounted on the stern of a ship. With the exception of the mast lights, the other lights are shielded so they are visible only within certain quadrants. Knowing this information, an observer can tell the approximate course a ship is steaming by how the lights appear to be aligned and which lights he or she can see. An example of running lights would be two red lights shining one over the top of the other from the main mast with a red light visible directly below the mast lights. Such lighting would tell all ships in the vicinity that this ship had lost control of its capability to maneuver and that the observer was looking at the port side of the ship.


    Salt water washdown - A hold-over from the Cold War era is the salt water washdown system aboard warships. A spraying system is installed around the 'skin' of the ship so when it is turned-on, salt water from the ocean is pumped through the pipes to wash the outside of the ship (the skin) free of any contaminants. It was designed to wash away radioactive material, but is just as effective in washing away chemical and biological agents. Plus, it's a quick way to flush away loose dirt and debris before a port call.

    Scuttlebutt - Technically, it's the water fountain of a ship. As a slang term, means rumors. So, you can drink from a scuttlebutt and you can spread scuttlebutt. In some instances, you can do both simultaneously because the water fountain is a place where sailors congregate, hence the reason the use of the term as an alternate word for rumor.

    Sea Sparrow - This is the AIM-7 missile. An air-to-air missile with great maneuverability against aircraft and possesses a ground attack capability. Navy ships employ a shipboard version of the Sea Sparrow.

    Sea state - The United States Navy uses its modern Sea State Chart to provide a quick reference point for reporting how weather conditions are affecting the ocean.

  • Sea state 1 - small waves and winds up to 10 knots.
  • Sea state 2 - Wind speeds to 13.5 knots, waves 1.4 feet, moderate breeze.
  • Sea state 3 - Wind speeds 14-16 knots with waves around 2 feet.
  • Sea state 4 - Wind speeds up to 20 knots with moderate waves.
  • Sea state 5 - Strong breeze up to 27 knots with large waves sometimes reaching 20 feet.
  • Sea state 6 - Moderate gale force winds up to 30.5 knots, waves between 14-29 feet. Breaking waves creating froth.
  • Sea state 7 - Fresh gale with winds up to 40 knots and highest waves of 58 feet. Sea state sends large amounts of spray into the air affecting visibility.
  • Sea state 8 - Strong gale with winds ranging 41 to 55 knots and very high waves up to and including 121 feet with crests that arch and crash into the rough. Wave length sometimes reaches 200 feet.
  • Sea state 9 - Top of the Navy scale. You could call this hurricane sea state with winds over 56 knots and waves reaching up to and over 160 feet. Spray can cloud visibility to near zero.
  • Security alert - A Navy command issued over the 1MC speaker system throughout the ship to warn all hands that something has occurred that may endanger the security of the ship. When given, those who are not members of the security alert team must remain stationary wherever they are when the alarm is sounded. The security alert command goes something like this, "Security alert, security alert! All hands stand fast during security alert!" Then it is sounded several more times to make sure you heard it because within a few seconds a bunch of sailors with loaded weapons will be running through the ship. Sailors, unlike Marines, aren't as qualified on handheld weapons that sometimes go bang and boom, therefore when 'security alert' is sounded no one moves and if you are truly disliked on a ship, you try even to control your blinks.

    Shakedown cruise - This is when the ship is taken out for a short at-sea period to check her out for maintenance problems and to ensure that all systems are functioning properly. Always taken after a shipyard period.

    Shift colors – Where the National Ensign is flown is determined whether a ship is underway or tied up. Underway, the Ensign is flown from the main mast. When tied up, the Ensign is flown from the stern of the ship while the Union Jack is flown from the bow. The Ensign remains where it is until the actual event denoting 'underway' or 'tied up' has occurred. At that moment, the Boatswain Mate of the Watch at the direction of the Officer of the Deck will announce, "Shift colors." Sailors already at the appropriate location will haul down the National Ensign at one location while others will haul her up at the other.

    Ship's log - Even in the age of computers, a log book is kept on the bridge and every change of course, speed, or ship's condition is recorded on that log notating date and time. Changes of the watch and who has the Officer-of-the-deck are entered. Whoever assumes the con is entered. Unusually events are notated. "0830 - Seaman Jones jumps overboard. Pier breaks fall. Ambulance called."

    Short-timer - A sailor who is nearing the end of his or her enlistment. Usually not applicable to those who chose to make the Navy a career. For example, I just went over 36 years in the Navy in December 2002. I may retire within the next 18 months. That doesn't make me a short-timer, but it does make me a 'lifer,' of which I am extremely proud.

    Sick bay – Navy term for a medical clinic where you go for treatment of minor ailments. You wouldn't call an emergency room or a hospital a 'sick bay.' Ships always have sick bays while Navy bases may have sick bays, clinics, and hospitals.

    Sick call – Navy medical facilities hold a daily 'sick call' for Navy and Marines who aren't feeling too good. It is usually held in the mornings and doesn't require an appointment. From 'sick call' a patient may be referred to other medical personnel or facilities.

    Sideboys - This is a Navy tradition handed down from the Royal Navy to the U.S. Navy as far back as our Revolutionary Navy. The higher an officer's rank, the more sideboys he or she rates. Sideboys were original purpose was to help pull the senior officer up over the side of the sailing ship and it was assumed that the more senior the officer the heavier the gentleman would be. Today sideboys line up facing each other, the arriving or departing senior walks between them while the sideboys salute him or her, and the senior returns the honor. Accompanying sideboys is usually the boatswain pipe.

    Sidewinder - This is the AIM-9 short-range air-to-air missile used by Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps fighter aircraft for close-in dogfights. Navy Fact file says that this is the most widely used air-to-air missile in the world with more than 27 nations outfitting their fighter aircraft with it.

    Single up – This is a command usually associated with a ship preparing to get underway. Mooring lines are usually doubled-up (another term) when ships are tied up. This maritime norm doubles the safety margin against the breaking free of the mooring lines. So, when the ship decides to get underway, the first thing they do when they decide its time to 'cast off' is to 'single-up' all lines.

    6916th USAFSS - The Naval Security Group Detachment/Activity was collocated with this Air Force squadron at Hellinikon Air Force Base in Athens, Greece. While we flew EC-121M, EA-3B, and EP-3E during my long associated with this squadron, they flew EC-130s and EC-135 reconnaissance aircraft. Today, the 69XX squadrons have gone away as well as the USAF Security Service.

    Skin of the ship - Refers to the outside of the ship. If you can see it from the pier, then it's part of the skin of the ship. The skin of the ship can be isolated from the inside of the ship. Examples: "We need to chip away the rust on the skin of the ship," said the Boatswain Mate. "Turn on the salt water washdown, Officer of the Deck," said the Skipper. "I want to make sure any anthrax on the skin of the ship is flushed overboard."

    Skivvy - (pl. skivvies) Term used by sailors to refer to their underwear - i.e. Boxer short, jockey shorts, etc.

    Skivvy marks - (You don't want to know)

    Small boy - Refers to destroyers, frigates, and smaller ships and boats. Not to be confused with the term 'little boy' as used by some ladies of the night when talking to a young sailor. "Hey, Little Boy, you want good time. Buy me Honda, maybe?"

    Smoking lamp - An age-old Navy term to indicate when and where crewmembers who smoke may light up a legal smoking instrument such as a cigar, cigarette, or pipe. Navy ships today have only a few areas aboard a ship where smokers may indulge and in some ships, the Commanding Officers have banned the habit in its entirety.

    SOCOM - Acronym for United States Special Operations Command that is credited for leading the war against Afghanistan. SOCOM commands the special operating force (SOF) of the United States military to include the Navy SEALs, Army Special Forces, and Air Force SOF. You won't learn much going to SOCOM web site. SOF prefers to work in secrecy and do a damn fine job keeping it.

    Splash - A term used to announce the successful shoot-down of an enemy aircraft. "Splash one," the F/A-18 pilot transmitted as he jerked the yoke to right.

    USS Spruance (DD-963) - The last ship I went to sea on as a member of its crew. I served on board this turbine-powered destroyer from 1981 - 1983. I earned my Surface Warfare qualifications aboard the Spru-maru as we called her. She was named after Admiral Spruance, famed for his leadership during the battle of Midway in World War II.

    Squid - A term used by Marines to refer to a sailor. Sometimes in a friendly context.

    Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) - This man-portable light machine gun can be the difference in success of failure of small SEAL teams, offsetting a fight against a larger number of enemy. It can fire over 700 rounds per minute. This rate of fire offsets the fact that it weighs over 15 pounds and someone has to carry it along with the other weapons and supplies they have to take.

    State - A term used to report fuel status. The ground controller will ask periodically for the flight to report its 'state,' by broadcasting something along the lines of, "Delta Leader, say your state." Different aircraft have different ways of responding, but usually they will reply with how much they have and how long they think they can remain flying. Of course, aviators are known to believe that fuel is not one of the factors for them to remain airborne. Goodness of heart and greatness of spirit is an acceptable substitute for fuel. The commanders on the ground are sometimes required to order fighter pilots to return to base before they fall out of the sky.

    Supply ships - These ships aren't designed to fight in combat, but are designed to provide fuel, food, and supplies to ships at sea. They are also capable of offloading supplies in a captured or friendly port. Supply ships have been used by the United States Government to deliver humanitarian supplies.

    Surge - Usually a term for heavy weather to denote when a ship moves forward a bit and then shoved backwards a bit. Can also mean the need to throw additional resources into a fight.

    Survival knife (also known as Combat knife) - Slang term for the weapon is 'pig sticker.' The knife comes with its own scabbard, made of high tensile steel, and supposedly balanced so it can be thrown. (We tried this during my aircrew days and had those knives bouncing all over the place, but it seemed we never could get the things to hit the target pointy end first.)

    Swab - This is the term for a mop. Sailors are sometimes called swabbies. No one uses the term mop aboard a ship or even ashore in a Navy installation. "Okay, Seaman Jones, grab that swab and give the berthing area a good swabbing. I don't want to see any crud on the deck when I return."

    Sway - Another heavy weather term to denote a side-to-side motion of the whole ship as it moves one direction (right/left) then the other directions (left/right).


    Tactical Action Officer (TAO) - Modern warfare makes time a critical element in defending and ensuring survivability of your ship. There may be times when an event requires a reaction before the Captain can take charge. To meet this requirement, the Captain identifies those officers whom he has confidence to fight the ship. He or she designates that officer in writing to act in his or her stead. That officer is given the designation as Tactical Action Officer. On board ships sailing in a combat zone, there is a senior TAO located within Combat Information Center twenty-four hours, seven days a week.

    Tailhook - Not to be confused with the out-of-control party in Las Vegas over a decade ago, this term refers to a heavy metal hook attached at the end of an aircraft to allow it to 'trap' aboard an aircraft carrier. In flight, the tailhook is raised. When landing on board a carrier, landings are easier, quicker, and safer when the tailhook is down.

    Taps – Bedtime. During the workweek taps is usually 2200 hours. During weekends, this can be extended. When taps is sounded, lights are turned out in the berthing compartments.

    Tattoo – Yeah, you're right. It can mean just what it says. A tattoo. For some reason, sailors have always been attributed with having tattoos and I have known a lot of them. But, tattoo is also the announcement to the crew that it is five minutes until taps (lights out). I have no idea why they would the call 'tattoo' five minutes before lights out is called that. I am sure I can make up something eventually that will sound realistic. Stay tuned for next year when I update this glossary.

    Three-mile limit – This was the original territorial sea limit for nations. The three-mile limit was established because at the time three miles was the maximum range of sea guns. In 1988, the three-mile limit was expanded to today's twelve-mile limit.

    Three Sheets to the Wind - Term refers to someone who has had too much to drink. It is a hold over from days of sail when the term was a reference to a sailing ship that was in disarray.

    Tenders - Tenders are floating maintenance shops capable of repairing all but the most severe of damages to a ship. Certain tenders such as 'submarine tenders' are capable of conducting this maintenance in the middle of the ocean for a specific class of ships, in this case submarines. They also have limited replenishment capability because of their size. Most tenders remain in port a lot even when assigned permanently overseas.

    Texaco - Slang for an airborne tanker such as the United States Air Force KC-135. I have also heard this term intermingled with 'Shell' to identify a Navy oiler. Though aircraft carriers have this capability, they are never called Texaco or Shell. I was once temporary deployed on the USS Mispillion (TAO-105) in 1974 during a transit to the USS Bainbridge (DLGN-25) in the Indian Ocean. We had a bright orange globe with the numbers '76' painted on it. Today, the USS Mispillion is no more. The Skipper of the Mispillion put me to work in the Radio Shack as a Second Class Communications Technician to help the Radiomen. Thankfully, they had a second class there who knew what in the hell he was doing, so I passed the days searching for radio stations and piping them throughout the ship.

    Three Jacks - The announcement by someone who has passed gas in a confined space and is very pleased with the results. Primarily a male term.

    Three wire - Aircraft carriers usually have four cables stretched across the stern of the ship so that when aircraft land, the tailhook can snag it, bringing the aircraft quickly to a stop. Catching the number three wire (read cable) is considered a textbook landing.

    Throttle - The instrument in the cockpit that controls speed. For fighter pilots it is usually located near his or her left hand. For the larger four-engine propeller driven aircraft such as the P-3C and EP-3E, the throttles are located on a console between the pilot and co-pilot.

    Took the wind out of his sails – We still hear this term today used both within the Navy and in civilian life. Today, it means to defeat an opponent in an argument. The term originated from when warships were powered by sail. During the course of battle, if a ship was able to position itself windward so it deflected the wind from the opponents' sail, causing it to lose headway. Once you lost headway, you lost maneuverability and the ability to fight the ship.

    Topside – I have seen this term defined as 'to go up,' but I've always heard used to mean you are going up & going outside. It can also mean that you are already outside. "I'm going topside and have a cigar. Want to join me?" I would submit 'topside' has two meanings:

  • (1)'up and outside in the open air'
  • (2) 'outside in the open air.'
  • Example:

    "Where's Admiral Holman?" HJ McDaniels, the only female SEAL in the Navy asked.
    "He's gone (1) topside, Ma'am," the Command Master Chief replied.
    "What's he doing (2) topside?"
    "He's inspecting the ship for rust."

    Torpedoes - The Navy has different torpedoes for different delivery platforms with the same purpose of searching and destroying enemy submarines. They can be launched from submarines, helicopters, fixed wing aircraft, and surface ships. The MK-48 torpedo (650 pounds of explosives) is carried by submarines and designed to search and destroy other submarines or fast surface ships. The MK-46 (98 pounds of high explosives) is the standard for NATO and designed to fight submarines. It is the Navy's lightweight torpedo. The MK-50 (100 pounds of high explosive/shaped charge) can be dropped from helicopters, fixed wing aircraft, and fired over-the-side from surface ships. It will eventually replace the MK-46.

    True direction - Ships operate on two types of general directions when they are reporting contacts or courses. Those directions are 'true direction' and 'relative direction.' True direction is course and bearing based on a magnetic compass reading. See definition for relative direction.

    Turn to – A great term meaning to start working. Usually accompanied by the twisting of two-fingers back and forth. "Stop that scuttlebutt'ing, you three! Turn to," the Boatswain Mate shouted, twisting two fingers at them. "And get this deck painted!"


    Underway - When a ship aweighs anchor and moving, it is said to be 'underway, making way.' It is possible to be underway and not moving, such as keeping just enough revolutions on the shaft to keep the ship stationary against the currents. In this instance a ship is said to be 'underway, not making way.' (Complicated this Navy-lese sometimes.)

    Union Jack – The field of stars on the National Ensign are considered the Union Jack. The U.S. Navy has flown the Union Jack from the bow while tied up or anchored until recently when Chief of Naval Operations authorized the flying of the Navy Jack, commonly referred to as the "Don't Tread on Me" flag. The original Navy Jack will be flown during the War on Terrorism. I really like the Navy Jack. It's part of history and can be traced back to 1775.


    VTOL Aircraft - Stands for 'Vertical Take Off and Landing.' These are not helicopters, but have the capability of taking off and landing vertically like one. The United States Marines fighter aircraft of choice are the F/A-18 and Harrier. The Harrier is a VTOL jet. Because of the power required and fuel consumption the Harrier has less range and can carry less weapons than the F/A-18, but it can operate anywhere it can find a patch of space to sit itself down. It can move forward with the ground forces without having to have a permanent airfield or aircraft carrier. Fuel and ammo are its primary forward deployed limits.

    V-22A Osprey - This is another VTOL aircraft being developed for the United States Marine Corps. They have had some flight challenges with the new technology necessary to fly these aircraft, but once in the fleet they will revolutionize the capability of the Marines to storm ashore or storm inland. Either way, it means making life rougher for the enemy. The Marines intend to purchase 360 of these aircraft, which can operate from ships or airfields ashore. Eventually, they will replace many of the helicopters currently being used to take Marines to the fight.

    Vulcan-Phalanx - I love this weapon. It looks like R2D2 from Star Wars. It is a 20mm close-in weapons systems designed to fire over 3000 rounds a minute with an effective range of about 2 nautical miles (4000 yards). The weapon can be put on automatic with the operator punching a preset speed of approach to turn it on. The MK 15 Vulcan Phalanx has two radars. One radar tracks the target and the other radar tracks the shells. The radar guidance quickly pulls the two radar tracks to where they merge into one. This weapon, once it starts, quickly chews up the target, and then goes after those pieces of debris still being detected on its radar. Gosh! How I do so love this weapon with its titanium shells.


    Waning moon - Term used when the moon is decreasing in brilliance.

    Warm fuzzy - A nautical term used by aviators, surface types, and submariners to mean feeling comfortable with something. Depending on the tone of voice, it can also mean 'not warm fuzzy.' "Did you hear what the skipper said? We're going to fly down this valley where they're going to be shooting shoulder-launched missiles at us along a ten-mile strip of anti-air artillery cross-firing at us; and all we're going to do is drop leaflets!" "Well, it gives me a warm fuzzy," Lieutenant Smith replied as he continued to clean his nails.

    Watches - Term to denote the standing of duty both at-sea and ashore. Normal watches for at-sea are:

  • Midnight to 0400 - Midwatch
  • 0400 to 0800 - Morning Watch
  • 0800 to 1200 - Forenoon Watch
  • 1200 to 1600 - Afternoon Watch
  • 1600 to 1800 - First Dog Watch
  • 1800 to 2000 - Second Dog Watch
  • 2000 to midnight - Evening Watch
  • Water Level - Where the water rises along the hull of the ship.

    Wave off - when the Landing Signals Officer determines that an aircraft approach is dangerous or something has occurred at the landing site that makes it dangerous. Usually, it means the aircraft is to go around and try the approach again.

    Waxing moon - Term used when the moon is increasing in brilliance.

    Weak Dick - is a term used for someone unable to cut it. Interchangeable between surface and aviation communities. Sometimes the NATO phonetics are used in lieu of 'Weak Dick.' -Whiskey Delta-

    Wingman - Any pilot who is not in tactical command of a formation. I have discovered, having worked for a couple of Air Force Generals, that short, tactical reports of an activity such as a conference or working group are sometimes called 'wingman reports.' I have tried substituting 'flotilla reports' and have discovered little difference.

    Working aloft – Term denotes that personnel are on the masts. Usually applies to those who are conducting routine or emergency maintenance on the myriad of electronics and radars that are mounted on ship's masts.



    Yaw - Bad weather causes a ship to yaw. The bow moves one direction and the stern moves the other. This really does create tight cheeks on the bridge (see skivvy marks).

    Yoke - It's the steering wheel of an aircraft. Sometimes referred to as the stick.


    David E. Meadows / SixthFleet.Com
    David E. Meadows
    Washington D.C.

    E-Mail readermail@SixthFleet.Com

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