Naval Terms

  1. Aback
    a term applied to a vessel whose yards are so trimmed that the wind is on their forward side and tending to drive her astern.
  2. Abaft
    towards the stern of a ship, relative to some other object or position.
  3. Aboard
    on or in a vessel. Close aboard is to be in close proximity to a ship or obstruction.
  4. About
    across the wind in relation to the bow of a sailing vessel
  5. Adrift
    a term denoting floating at random, as of a boat or swhip broken away from its moorings and tat the mercy of winds and waves
  6. Afloat
    the condition of resting buoyantly upon the water, the upward pressure being equal to that of gravity
  7. Aft
    at or near the stern or after part of a ship (opposite of fore)
  8. Astern
    behind a vessel
  9. Athwart
    something which is directly across the line of a ship's course
  10. Awash
    the condition when the seas wash over a wreck or shoal, or when a vessel is so low that water is constantly washing aboard in quantities
  11. Away
    an order to shove off or to lower a boat or draft of cargo
  12. Aweather
    towards the direction of the wind; to windward
  13. Aweigh
    the situation of the anchor at the moment it is broken out of the ground. When this situation occurs, the ship is no longer secured to the ground and will drift unless under sail or power.
  14. Ballast
    additional weight carried in a ship to give it stability and/or to provide a satisfactory trim
  15. Batten Down
    to secure the openings in the decks and sides of a vessel when heavy weather is forecast
  16. Beam
    the transverse measurement of a ship at its widest part. It is also a term used in indicating direction in relation to a ship.
  17. Bearing
    the direction or point of the compass in which an object is seen, or the direction of one object from another, with reference to (1) the nearest cardinal point of the compass, or (2) true north, measuring clockwise
  18. Beating
    working to windward by successive tacks
  19. Becalm
    to blanket a sail or vessel by intercepting the wind with other sails or with another vessel
  20. Becalmed
    A vessel unable to make progress through the lack of wind
  21. Bend To
    to secure a sail to a yard or other spar. Also, to shackle the chain to the anchor.
  22. Binnacle
    a wooden box or non-magnetic metallic container for the compass
  23. Boatswain
    (pron. bo sun) in the US Navy, a petty officer who supervises the deck force in seamanship duties
  24. Boatswain's Mate
    in the US Navy, a petty officer who supervises the deck force in seamanship duties
  25. Bollards
    two vertical heards of iron or wood to which mooring lines are made fast
  26. Boom Out a Sail, to
    to extend a corner of a sail with a spar
  27. Bow
    the foremost end of a ship
  28. Bowditch, Nathaniel (1773-1838)
    the author of the American Practical Navigator, the great American epitome of navigtion, known popularly among seafarers as Bowditch. It is published by the US Naval Oceanographic Office
  29. Bowline
    (pron bo lin) the line leading forward from the bow chock when a vessel is tied up to a wharf
  30. Bowsprit
    (pron. bo sprit) a large spar projecting from the stem of sailing vessels
  31. Boxing the Compass
    to name the points (and quarter points) of the compass from north through south to north and return backwards and to be able to answer any question respecting it divisions
  32. Break
    a sudden rise or drop in a vessel's deck line
  33. Bridge
    an elavated athwartship platform which a vessel is navigated and all activities on deck
  34. Bring To, to
    to heave a vessel to the wind
  35. Broadside
    the full weight of metal which can be fired simultaneously from all the guns on one side of a warship
  36. Bulkhead
    a vertical partition dividing the hull into separate compartments
  37. Bulwark
    the planking or woodwork, or steel planting in the case of steel ships, along the sides of a ship above its upper deck to prevent seas washing over the gunwales
  38. By the Head
    when a vessel is deeper than her normal draft forward
  39. By the Lee
    the situation when a square-rigged vessel running free on one tack is thrown off by a sea or bad steering sufficiently to bring her sails aback on the other tack
  40. By the Stern
    when a vessel is deeper than her normal draft at the stern, out of trim by an excess of weight aft
  41. By the Wind
    sailing close-hauled
  42. Capstan
    a cylindrical barrel fitted in larger ships on the forecastle deck and used for heavy lifting work, particularly when working anchors and cables
  43. Careen
    to list; a vessel is hove down by careening her, when in a light trim, by use of tackles to a dock or trees on a river bank for the pupose of cleaning her bottom
  44. Cat o' Nine Tails
    an implement of punishment in the old navy. It is consisted of nine cords each with three knots, all lashed to a short heavy piece of rope. To be so punished was to be intruduced to the gunner's daughter
  45. Celo-navigation
    the science of findin a ship's position by means of observations of heavenly bodies and the mathematical calculation attending them
  46. Close-hauled
    the condition of sailing when a vessel sails as close to the wind as possible with her sails full and drawing
  47. Come To, to
    to turn toward the wind
  48. Coxswain
    (pron. coxs'n) the helmsman of a ship's boat and the senior member of its crew who has permanent charge of it
  49. Davits
    small cranes from which a ship's boats are slung
  50. Dismasted
    to lose a mast
  51. Draft
    the depth of water a ship draws
  52. Ensign
    the flag carried by a ship as insignia of her nationality, usually hoisted on a staff over the railing about her stern
  53. Fall Off, to
    to deviate from the course to which the head of a ship was previously directed
  54. Fathom
    a nautical measure equal to six feet
  55. Flag Officer
    naval officer above rank of captain. So called because the officer is authorized to fly a personal flag
  56. Flagstaff
    a pole on which a flag is hoisted and displayed
  57. Forecastle
    (pron. fo'c'sul) forward section of weather deck
  58. Freeboard
    the distance, measured at the center of the ship, from the waterline to the uppermost complete deck that has permanent means of closing all openings in its weather portions
  59. Gaff
    a spar that stands or hoists on the after side of the mast and supports the head of the sail
  60. Gunwale
    (pron. gunnul) the upper edge of a vessel's or boat's side
  61. Halliards
    the ropes, wires, or tackles used to hoist or lower sails
  62. Hatch
    an opening in a ship's deck affording access into the compartment below
  63. Haul, to
    to pull (nothing is ever "pulled" aboard ship)
  64. Haul the Wind, to
    to bring a sailing vessel nearer to the wind after she has been running before the wind
  65. Heah
    toilet facilities
  66. Heave To, to
    to operate a sailing ship or powered vessel in such a way as to make no headway (the vessel remains relatively stationary). [syn. "to lie to"]
  67. Heel, to
    to lean over to one side, though not permanently
  68. Helm
    the steering mechanism of a ship
  69. Hull
    the body of a vessel exclusive of masts, yards, sails, rigging, machinery, and equipment
  70. Hull-down
    a ship so far distant that only its masts, and/or sails, funnels, etc.., are visibile above the horizon
  71. Hull a Ship, to
    to penetrate a vessel's hull with shot
  72. Inboard
    towards midships
  73. Jackstaff
    flagple at the bow from which the union jack is flown when a ship is not under way
  74. Keel
    the main center-line structural member, running fore and aft along the bottom of a ship
  75. Keel-haul
    a punishment in which a man was hauled down one side of a vessel under the keel and up the other side
  76. Knot
    a measure of speed, not distance, in nautical miles per hour (equivalent to app. 1.1508 statute miles per hour)
  77. Larboard
    left (now referred to as "port") side of a ship when looking forward
  78. Larboard (or Port) Tack
    the situation of a sailing vessel with her sails trimmmed for a wind which comes voer her larboard (or port side)
  79. Lee
    the side of a ship, promontory, or other object away from the wind
  80. Leeward, to
    (pron. loo'ard) being stituated, or having a direction, away from the wind
  81. List
    the inclining of a ship to one side or the other due usually to a shift in the cargo or the flooding of some part of the hull. It is a longer-term situation than a heel
  82. Magazine
    compartment aboard ship or ashore fitted for the stowage of ammo
  83. On the Beam
    the direction at right angles to a ship's heading or line of her keel
  84. Outboard
    away from a vessel; away from the center fore and aft line
  85. Overhaul
    to overtake another vessel
  86. Patent Log
    (also, Taffrail Log) a mechanical device used for the pupose of measuring the distance a vessel has sailed
  87. Plimsoll Mark
    a figure marked on thesides of cargo carriers indicating the depth to which the vessel can be loaded under given weather and water conditions
  88. Poop
    the raised deck and after structure at the stern of a vessel
  89. Press of Sail
    said of a vessel which carries an extraordinary spread of canvas for some special purpose such as to avoid stranding, to escape an enemy, etc...
  90. Purchase
    general term for any mechanical arrangement of blocks and line for multiplying force
  91. Quarterdeck
    ceremonial area of the main deck. In sailing vessels, it is abaft the mainmast. It was from the quarterdeck that the captain or master commanded a sailing vessel
  92. Rake, to
    to maneuver a warship so that it can fire down the length of an adversary
  93. Rigging
    all the rope, chain, metalwork, and associated fittings used to support and operate the masts, spars, flags, sails, booms, and derricks of sailing vessels, and the masts, booms, and derricks of powered vessels
  94. Rudder
    a flat vertical surface astern by which a ship or boat may be steered
  95. Scuppers
    draining holes cut through the bulwarks to allow any water on deck to drain away down the ship's side
  96. Sheave
    (pron. shiv) the revolving wheel (or pulley) in a block
  97. Shoal
    a patch of water in the sea with a depth less than that of the surrounding water
  98. Spanker
    the fore and aft sail set from the after mast of a sailing vessel
  99. Spars
    a term applied to all masts, yards, gaffs, booms, etc.
  100. Starboard
    right side of a ship when looking forward
  101. Starboard Tack
    the situation of a sailing vessel with her sails trimmed for wind which comes over her starboard side
  102. Steerage Way
    to have sufficient headway for the rudder to grip the water so that a vessel will answer to her helm
  103. Stem
    the foremost timber or steel member forming the bow of a vessel
  104. Stern
    the after end of a vessel
  105. Strake
    line of planks or plates running the length of a vessel
  106. Superstructure
    all construction above the main deck of a ship
  107. Tack, to
    the operation of brining a sailing vessel's head to wind and across it so as to bring the wind on the opposite side of the vessel
  108. Tackle
    (pron. takle) name used for a purchase after a line has been rove through the sheaves and the standing part has been made fast to one of the blocks. Essentially synonymous with "purchase" in everyday usage
  109. Taffrail
    the upper part of a ship's stern
  110. Tiller
    lever that turns the rudder on a boat. Synonymous with "helm" in a larger vessel
  111. Van
    the forward part or group of a formation of ships
  112. Waterline
    the line indicated along the side of a vessel by the plane of the surface of the water
  113. Weather
    towards the point from which the wind blows
  114. Weather Deck
    an uncovered deck exposed to the weather
  115. Weather Gage
    the advantage of the wind. It refers to the position of a ship under sail when she is windward of another ship
  116. Weigh
    to raise or lift the anchor
  117. Windward, to
    in the direction from which the wind blows
  118. Yards
    long, nearly cylindrical spars, tapering toward the ends, used for supporting and extending sails
Card Set
Naval Terms