Accomdation Ladder - A ladder suspended over the side of a ship to facilitate boarding from small boats.
Aft - The rear portion of the ship.
Aloft - Any location above the highest deck of a ship.
Amidships - The middle section of the ship.
Anchorage - An area designated for the anchoring of ships.
APA - Auxiliary Personnel Attack. A transport designed to carry troops and their arms directly to an invasion beachhead.
APD - Destroyer-Transport. Destroyers fitted to carry 150 or so troops for fast delivery to trouble spots.
Armored Belt - An area of vertical steel plating that covers a ships vital spaces, such as engineering and weapons magazines.
Armored Deck - Deck, below the main deck, that provides additional protection to a ships vital spaces, such as engineering and weapons magazines.
Armament - All the weapons of a ship.
Astern - Directly behind the ship.
BB - Designation for a Battleship
Barbette - A cylindrical heavily armored column that serves as support for the turreted guns. Protects ammunition handling equipment.
Battle Dressing Station - A makeshift, temporary medical space used for treating wounded crew members during battle.
Battle Ensign - A large American flag that is hoisted right before battle.
Beam - The extreme breadth of a ship.
Binnacle - A stand for a magnetic compass.
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.
Bogie - Unidentified plane.
Bow - The very front of the ship.
Bridge - Location on the ship that serves as a command and control station.
Brig - A compartment that serves as a jail aboard the ship. Where confined sailors or marines are issued rations of bread and water.
Broadside - Simultaneous firing of all guns to one side at a target.
Bulkhead - Vertical plating (walls) that divides the ship into various spaces or compartments.
CA - Heavy Cruiser.
Caliber - The length of a gun divided by the diameter.
Can - Destroyer, slang.
CAP - Combat Air Patrol
Casemate - Armored compartment for a gun and the guncrew.
Chart - A map that contains navigation information.
Charthouse - Space where charts are stored, maintained and examined.
CIC - Combat Intelligence Center on a ship, where all battle information is correlated and action decided.
CINCPAC - Pronounced "Sink-Pack." Commander-in-Chief, Pacific, the person and the headquarters in overall command of the United States Pacific Fleet.
CL - Light Cruiser.
Colors - The national flag.
Commissioning Pennant - A small version of the American flag that displays seven stars and one red and one white strip. Identifies the ship as a commissioned American warship.
Conn - See Bridge.
Course - Ship's desired direction of movement.
CV - Aircraft Carrier
CVE - Escort Aircraft Carrier
CVL - Light Aircraft Carrier, built on a converted light cruiser hull
Division - Shipboard sub-organization of crewmembers that perform the same duty or work in the same spaces.
Deck - Horizontal plating or wooden planks that form layers on the ship (floors).
DD - Destroyer
Draft - Vertical distance from the waterline to the keel.
Dress ship - Display of flags including signal flags in honor of a person or special event.
Ensign - the national flag; lowest officer rank.
Executive Officer - Second in command of the ship (XO).
Fantail - After end of the main deck.
Fathom - Unit of depth equal to six feet.
Flag officer - Officer with a rank of Commodore or above.
Flagstaff - Vertical staff located at the rear of the ship where the ensign is hoisted.
Fleet - An organization of ships under one commander, usually a full admiral.
Forecastle - Forward section of the main deck. Actually pronounced foc'sle.
Foremast - First mast closest to the bow.
Galley - Place on a ship where meals are prepared.
Gedunk - Dish of ice cream or a milk shake.
GQ - General Quarters, man your battle stations.
Helm - Mechanical equipment used to turn the rudder.
Jack - Starred blue flag that represents the blue field on the American flag.
Jackstaff - Vertical staff located on the forecastle where the Jack is hoisted.
JOD - Junior Officer of the Deck
Knot - Nautical measurement of speed equal to 1.15 miles per hour on land.
Launch - A powerboat usually over 30 feet long.
LCT and LCVP - Landing Craft Tanks and Landing Craft Vehicles and Personnel, small craft designed to carry the indicated cargo , but often used for myriad tasks.
Liberty - Shore leave
List - Lean of a ship either port of starboard.
Lucky Bag - Storage place for all clothing found adrift about the ship. Master-at-arms periodically open it so sailors can claim their clothes.
Magazine - Space dedicated to the stowage of ammunition and powder.
Main deck - The uppermost complete deck.
Mainmast - Second mast aft from the bow.
Midwatch - The watch from midnight to 4:00 A.M.
Neptune - Refers to King Neptune, ruler of the Raging Main
OD - Officer of the Deck.
Overhead - The horizontal surface that forms the top of a interior compartment of a ship, ie a "ceiling" but never called a ceiling on a vessel or ship.
PBM and PBY - Patrol planes.
Pilothouse - Enclosure on the bridge containing the steering controls.
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.
Pogey Bait - Candy
Port - The left side of the ship when facing the bow. Indentified by the color red on running lights.
Pollywog, Polliwog - A person that has never crossed the equator aboard ship and become a Shellback. AKA 'wog'. Frequently modified by the adjective "slimy".
Quarterdeck - An area of the ship designated by the Commanding Officer where official and ceremonial functions are carried out when the ship is in port.
Quarters - Stations for crewmembers for shipboard evolutions.
Radio Shack - A room or space on the ship where radio equipment is located.
Range Clock - From 1917 as part of the post-Jutland improvements in fire control battleships had deflection scales painted on turrets and turret-crowns, and carried range clocks on their masts.
The range clock and deflection scales were both devices to improve gunnery, particularly in confused conditions likely to be encountered in the North Sea. It should be remembered that wireless telegraphy was still relatively undeveloped, and ship-to-ship communication still relied solely on the flashing lamp or flag hoists. At Jutland, with ships pouring out dense clouds of coal-smoke, it was frequently impossible to read any information about the bearing and range of an enemy squadron; by the time the information was available the mist might have closed in, and the opportunity to open fire had gone.
The range clock simply expressed the range of the target in thousands of yards, and the figures on its face could be read by a ship astern or ahead in the line. The bearing of that target would be read off from the deflection scales on the turrets, and with these two items of information, the ship coming up astern would have her guns aimed in the right direction should there be any sudden improvement in visibility.
The Range Clocks were eliminated in the Thirtys with the advent of improved radio communications and later by the development of radar.
Running Light - Illuminated navigational markings on a ship that aid in identifying a ships heading in order to prevent collisions at sea. Red indicates Port (left), Green indicates Starboard (right).
Scullery - Space where eating utensils are washed.
Scuttlebutt - Drinking fountain on board ship; also gossip. The scuttle-butt, earlier scuttled butt, was a wooden cask, or butt, set up on deck with a section scuttled, or cut out, to allow sailors to dip themselves a drink of water. When drinking fountains replaced water casks on shipboard, the designation scuttlebutt was applied to them, too. Anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of the social habits of Americans around water coolers has already guessed the next step. The kind of idle talk exchanged around the scuttlebutt became proverbial as scuttlebutt news, what sailors and Marines had previously called galley yarns, for similar reasons; the Army prefers latrine rumors.
Shellback - A person who has crossed the Equator. Frequently modified with the adjective "trusty".
Ship's Company - A crewmember permanently assigned to the ship.
Skipper - Captain of the Ship
Skunk - Unidentified surface ship
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.
SOPA - Senior Officer Present Afloat.
Starboard - The right side of the ship when facing the bow. Indetified by the color green on running lights.
Stern - The rear most part of the ship.
Striker - An unrated seaman or fireman bucking for a particular rating, such as quartermaster-striker yeoman-striker, etc.
Superstructure - Structures above the main deck.
Task Force - Sub-division of a Fleet, usually the active fighting ships, usually commanded by a flag rank.
Task Group - Sub-division of a Task Force, usually commanded by a Rear Admiral.
TBS - Talk Between Ships, a short-range radio for voice communication among vessels in a group.
Topside - Refers to the weather decks, maindeck and above.
USS - United States Ship
VE Day - Victory in Europe Day
VJ Day - Victory over Japan Day
Wardroom - Officers messing area
Weatherdeck - Any deck located where it is exposed to the elements
XO - Executive Officer. Second-in-command of a vessel.
ZULU Time - Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). Used in radio traffic when the origin of a dispatch is expressed in GMT, i.e. "1700 ZULU".
Last Updated 28 January 2002
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