Basic Navy Terminology

Aft:  The rear part of a ship

Aloft:  Above or on top of the deck

Amidships: Toward the middle of a ship

Bearing:  The direction of an object expressed either  as a true bearing as shown on the chart, or as a bearing relative to the  heading of the boat

Bilge: The rounded lower part of a ship’s hull

Bow:  The front part of a ship

Bridge: Platform above the main deck, where the  ship’s controls are located

Brig: The ships jail

Bulkhead: Upright partitions separating parts of a ship

Bunk: A bed on a ship

Buoy: An anchored float used for used for marking a  position on the water or a hazard or a shoal and for mooring

Capsize: To turn over

Chart:  A map for use by navigators

Cleat:  A fitting usually with two horned shaped  ends, to which lines are made fast.  The classic cleat is almost anvil shaped

Compass:  Navigation instrument either magnetic or gyro

Current: The horizontal movement of water

Deck:  A floor on a ship

Dock:  A protected water area in which vessels are  moored. The term is often used to denote a pier or wharf.

Draft: The depth of water that a ship displaces

Fathom:  A six foot length, a unit of measure for  water depth

Fender: A cushion placed between boats, or between a  boat and a pier, to prevent damage.

Fouled:  Any piece of equipment that is jammed or  entangled, or dirtied

Free Board:  A ship’s height from the waterline to the main deck

Galley:  A ship’s kitchen

Gear:  A general term for ropes, blocks, tackle and  other equipment

Gee Dunk: A ship’s store

Gigline: The name given to the line used to align the  uniform shirt, belt buckle, and trousers

Hatch: A ship’s door

Hatchway: A covered opening in a ship’s deck to allow  entrance to a lower deck

Head: A restroom on a ship

Helm: The wheel or tiller controlling the rudder

Hold: A compartment below deck in a large vessel,  used solely for carrying cargo

Hull:  The main body of a ship

Jettison:  To cast overboard or off. Informal. To  discard (something) as unwanted or burdensome

Keel: The main timber or steel beam that extends the  entire length of the bottom of the ship

Ladder: Stairs

Leeward: The direction away from the wind; opposite of  windward

Mooring:  An arrangement for securing a boat to a  mooring buoy or a pier

National Ensign:  The name given to the national flag when  flown by ships and boats

Overhead: The ship’s ceiling

Overboard: Over the side or out of the boat

Pennant: Any nautical flags that taper to a point and  are used for identification

Pogey Bait: Any sort of candy

Port: Facing forward, the left hand side of a ship

Porthole: A ship’s window

Screw: Another name for the propeller on a ship

Skuttle bucket: A water fountain

Starboard: Facing Forward, the right hand side of a ship

Stern:  The rear end of a ship

Stow: To pack or store away; especially, to pack in  an orderly, compact  manner

Super Structure:  Structures built on a ship’s upper deck

Underway:  Vessel in motion, i.e., when not moored, at  anchor, or aground

Union Jack: The blue field of white stars from the  national ensign flown by day from the jackstaff on U.S. Warships at anchor or moored

Watch:  Periods of duty on a ship, broken into six periods

Waterline: The line to where the surface water comes on  the side of a ship

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