Sea Stories, Poems and Other Such Stuff
“A Motto To Live By”
Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, wine in the other, thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming “WOO HOO” what a ride.
“My Heart’s at Sea Forever”
Long ago I was a Sailor.
I sailed the Ocean blue.
I knew the bars in Olongopo…
The coastline of Peru.
I knew well the sting of salt spray,
the taste of Spanish wine,
the beauty of the Orient…
Yes, all these things were mine.
But I wear a different hat now,
no tie and jacket too.
My sailing days were long ago…
with that life I am through.
But somewhere deep inside of me…
the sailor lives there still.
He longs to go to sea again,
But knows he never will.
My love, my life, is here at home,
and I will leave here never.
Though mind and body stay ashore…
my heart’s at sea forever
Contributed by Luis Duran
The Diving Alarm Ballet
by Mike Hemming
This is the dance on the old diesel boats.
As I pass between the controllermen, the oogah, oogah, Dive!, Dive comes over the speakers and they leap to their sticks and rheostats. The engine shut down air lever is hit, rheostats spun down, sticks are thrown, as the ballet begins. Generator electricity wanes as the huge storage batteries are called on for power. Sticks pulled to new positions and rheostats spun back up to keep the motors turning. The flurry of intense activity over, minor adjustments made and times logged while listening, always for the sound of water doing something it shouldn’t. As I walk forward at the same time into the enginerooms, the two men in each one do the shutdown dance Throttles are slapped down, hydraulic levers pulled to the closed position to shut exhaust valves and drains opened by the throttleman. As his oiler spins the inboard exhaust valves the 32 turns to shut it, either the oiler or the throttleman (depending on who is closer) will have yanked the pin holding the great intake air valve open so it falls shut with a loud clang. His inboard exhaust valves shut, the oiler drops below to secure the sea valves that allow the seawater to cool the engines. Then, the throttleman checks everything secure one more time. In the control room, the other area of great activity on a dive, lookouts almost free fall to their diving stations on the bow and stern planes. Quickly the bow planesman rigs out his planes and both he and the stern planesman set their charges to the prescribed angles for the dive. Arriving soon after the planesmen, the OOD, now the diving officer, gives the ordered depth to reach and the angle to do it. Then he checks that all is well and will watch the planesmen to learn if the trim needs changing. The Chief of the Watch having closed the huge main air induction valve, will watch the Christmas Tree to see that all hull openings are closed. Then he pulls the vents to flood the main ballast tanks and watches the depth to signal the auxillaryman on the air manifold when to blow negative tank to the mark to stop our descent into the depths. The manifold operator will hammer open the valve and then close off the roaring rush of compressed air, as needed. By this time, the trim manifold operator will have arrived from the engine room. After climbing over the stern planesman, he will be ready to pump and flood seawater to the tanks. This will trim up the boat to neutral buoyancy. In the conn, the helmsman will have rung up standard speed so the boat will be driven under by the screws. The QM of the watch will dog the conning tower hatch when the OOD, the last man down from the bridge, pulls the lanyard to close it. There is no music to guide this dance except calm orders given and acknowledged. Started in a flurry of activity, it will end by winding down quietly to a state of relaxed vigilance by men practiced and confident of themselves and each other. They have done this many times, this graceful and awkward descent into the depths. They do it as fast as is safely possible. This is where they belong, with many feet of sea hiding the strong steel of the hull. Men asleep in bunks half-awakened by the raucous alarm and noisy ballet, drift back to deep sleep, confident they are at home where they should be.
Contributed by Alan Smith, USSVI Cod Base
For I Am a Submariner
by John Chaffey
Some times we need a reminder!
This one has been around for a while…..brings a little moisture to the eye
I served on the Holland over a century ago. I still serve to this day on the Trident, Los Angeles & Seawolf class boats and look forward to shipping on the Virginia, Texas, and Hawaii. Places like Fremantle, Rota, LaMadd, Chinhae, Pattaya, Sasebo, Chinhae, and Subic stir my soul. For I am a Submariner. I rest in peace beneath many seas across this earth. I was on the Barbel off Palawan, the Scorpion off the Azores and the Bonefish in the Sea of Japan. We gave them hell in the harbors at Wewak and Namkwan. I am a Shellback, a Bluenose, a Plank Owner, a MCPO of the Navy, a CNO, and a President. For I am a Submariner. I heard Howard Gilmore’s final order, “Take Her Down.” I heard the word passed, “Underway on Nuclear Power.” I have done every job asked of me, from Messcook to Torpedoman to Motormac to COB to Skipper. I know “Snorkel Patty” and Admiral Rickover. For I am a Submariner. I have twin Dolphins tattooed on my chest and twin screws tattooed on my ass. I know the difference between a Lady and a Hooker but treat both with equal respect. I know Georgia Street, Texas Street, and Magsaysay drive. And although the Horse & Cow keeps moving I will always find her. I know the meaning of “Hot, Straight, and Normal.” For I am a Submariner. I have stood tall and received the Medal of Honor and been thrown in the Brig for being Drunk & Disorderly. I know the reverent tone of “Diesel Boats Forever” and the Gudgeon’s “Find em, Chase em, Sink em.” I was on the Spearfish evacuating nurses from Corregidor and the Skate when she surfaced at the North Pole. I have spent time in the Royal Hawaiian. For I am a Submariner. I have gone by names like Spritz, Cromwell, O’Kane, Ramage, Breault, “Mush” and Lockwood. I have served on boats like the Nautilus, Providence, Thresher, Parche, Squalus, Wahoo, and Halibut. On December 7th I was onboard the Tautog at Pearl Harbor. I was also on the Tusk in 49 and sacrificed myself for my shipmates on the Cochino. For I am a Submariner. I have stood watches in the cold of Holy Loch and the heat of the South Pacific. I know what the “41 For Freedom” accomplished. I was on the Sealion at Cavite in 41 and the Archerfish in Tokyo Bay in 45. I have endured depth charges and POW camps. I was on the Seafox when we lost five sailors to a Japanese ambush on Guam. For I am a Submariner. I tip beers over sea-stories with my shipmates at yearly conventions. We toll the bell and shed a tear for our buddies who are on eternal patrol. Many pilots have been glad to see me, including a future president. I have completed numerous highly classified missions during the Cold War. Because “Freedom Is Not Free,” be assured that I am out there at this very moment. For I am a Submariner.
Me and Willy were lollygagging by the scuttlebutt after being aloft to boy-butter up the antennas and were just perched on a bollard eyeballing a couple of bilge rats and flangeheads using crescent hammers to pack monkey shit around a fitting on a handybilly. All of a sudden the dicksmith started hard-assing one of the deck apes for lifting his pogey bait. The pecker-checker was a sewer pipe sailor and the deckape was a gator. Maybe being blackshoes on a bird farm surrounded by a gaggle of cans didn’t set right with either of those gobs. The deck ape ran through the nearest hatch and dogged it tight because he knew the penis machinist was going to lay below, catch him between decks and punch him in the snot locker. He’d probably wind up on the binnacle list but Doc would find a way to gundeck the paper or give it the deep six to keep himself above board. We heard the skivvywaver announce over the bitch box that the breadburners had creamed foreskins on toast and SOS ready on the mess decks so we cut and run to avoid the clusterfuck when the twidgets and cannon cockers knew chow was on. We were balls to the wall for the barn and everyone was preparing to hit the beach as soon as we doubled-up and threw the brow over. I had a ditty bag full of fufu juice that I was gonna spread on thick for the bar hogs with those sweet bosnias. Sure beats the hell out of brown bagging. Might even hit the acey-duecy club and try to hook up with a Westpac widow. They were always on the dance floor on amateur night. If you understand this, you’ve been there.
Sent in by Luis Duran
Dick Murphy IC3-SS USS Tiru SS-416
Here’s to us, one and all Who heard the message and answered the call To break away from the old mainstream And live our lives on a submarine. Sub School gave us the chance to pass the test To declare that we were The Best of the Best. When we left New London with orders in hand We all headed out for distant, faraway lands. Some went East coast some went West But no matter where you ended up, your first boat’s the best. You reported on board not knowing what to think But now you’re known to all as a nub and a dink. You learn about Tradition and learn about Pride, You learn about Honor and the men who have died, You learn about the heritage that’s been passed on to you Because now you’re considered one of the crew. You study that boat from bow to stern From the conning tower to the bilges, it’s your duty to learn Where and what makes that boat go, How it operates and in what direction it flows How to charge those batteries and keep them alive Or how to rig the boat for dive Draw those systems fore and aft, Blow the shitters, Check the draft These are duties that you must glean When you live your life on a submarine When you’ve learned all there is to know about your boat You show ’em you know it, by your walk through vote You go before the Qual Board, card in hand Where they question and grill you to beat the band And when you think you can take no more They tell you to wait just outside the door. For what seems like eons, Time stands still And when they call you in, you feel quite ill! But they congratulate you for doing so good And welcome you into their Brotherhood. Right of passage declares that you must drink your “fish”. And the tacking on process is not something you wish But you wear those dolphins on your chest with pride Because down deep in your heart, you know you’re Qualified. It seems like yesterday, it seems like a dream That I truly lived on a submarine Most Boats are gone, a memory of time I wonder what happened to that crew of mine? The Old Boats that are left, are all museums And even if you rode ’em, you have to pay admission to see ’em. So here’s to us, those that remember Who rode the boats out in all kinds of weather To those past, present and even the future To those young, hardy lads who still love adventure So let’s lift our glasses and have a toast To the memory of those daring young sailors and their undersea boats.
Those of us that sailed on the Jallao in 1963 will remember a situation similar to the story that follows.
Because we are surrounded by it, I guess we take for granted how truly awful a submarine is. Not that I’d trade it for another specialty (except aviation, those clowns have it good) but when you think about it, we put up with a lot of shit. Who lives, literally, only feet from equipment that would kill you and everyone else on board?
Torpedoes…a few dozen of these packed in and some of the crew sleeps amongst them. Don’t mind the warhead that can split a ship in half, but the fuel, if ignited, makes hydrogen cyanide as a by-product.
Battery…essentially a giant car battery. Makes hydrogen as a by-product, and if mixed with salt-water generates chlorine gas. Stores enough energy that if released all at once could lift the ship (all 7000 tons of it) one mile into the air. Good stuff.
Oxygen generator…makes oxygen (and hydrogen) by passing high voltages through water. Ingenious. Lets put a few thousand volts next to pure oxygen and hydrogen. Lovingly referred to as “the bomb.”
Nuclear reactor…aka “the Magic Hot Rock.” Probably the safest nuclear power plant in the world, operated by any agency, civilian or military, foreign or domestic. But you still have several million curies of radioactive material stored in there. Also, the associated steam plant, if released to the confines of the engine room, could boil everyone in it alive.
The 688 class submarine was built first and foremost to fight Russians during the cold war. Crew comfort was a secondary thought. 150 men (average age 24, maybe only 3 onboard over the age of 40) live in a steel can 300′ by 30′. There isn’t enough bunk space, so a portion of the crew “hot racks,” i.e. three men are assigned to two racks. When he a hot-racker gets off watch, he should have a rack open, still warm and smelly from the last guy.
There are less than a half dozen showers onboard. Small, stainless steel closets. Water is conserved, so you get wet, so you only turn it on to get wet and rinse off. No standing under the shower head to wake up in the morning. Food is cooked in a galley smaller than most public bathrooms you’ve been in. The crew’s mess is the only place for the crew…it’s a mess hall, a lecture hall, and occasionally, a movie theater. Trash is compacted into steel cans, 50 lbs ea. Seven are loaded into a tube (the trash disposal unit, or TDU) and jettisoned when the water is deep enough (don’t worry, it’s deeper than YOU can swim). Human waste is stored in sanitary tanks (san tanks) and is pumped or blown over the side when far enough from land.
It takes a special bunch of guys to volunteer for this kind of duty, and even then any psychologist would be entertained by the antics of these young men while underway…their strange ability to remain sane despite conditions we don’t subject hardened criminals to.
Lets get to the meat of the story…
The names have been changed to protect my ass from reprisal.
So there we were off the coast of Oahu. I was sleeping the sleep of the man happy to be in his bunk. Senior enough that I didn’t have to hot rack…but also a “rider.” I didn’t belong to this crew, I was riding as a favor to my Captain so I could work on qualifications (my ship wasn’t going anywhere for a while, and I had deadlines to meet).
I was awakened to the cries of “It’s flooding the whole galley!” Flooding is one of those key words on a submarine that gets EVERYONE’S attention. For a ship that makes it’s living going under the water, we like to make sure we can get up again. But the smell affronting me was wrong, not sea water, but worse. Human waste. It seems the Auxilliaryman of the Watch, when ordered to line up to blow sanitaries overboard, line up wrong. When the #1 san tank was pressurized, it flowed not to sea, but into san 2. San 2 wasn’t lined up for this, so the shit went the only place it could. A tornado of offal was reported to have blown out the garbage grinder (think trash disposal, but bigger) in the galley. It filled up the galley, ran over the door jambs and flowed into the crew’s mess. It came up the deck drains in the wardroom pantry and athwartship passage way and flowed into the dry storeroom (where bread, pasta and the like are stored). It blasted up the deck drain in the lower level shower. The doc was in there at the time and was coated from his waist down in the processed meals of his shipmates.
After flowing about the galley and crew’s mess it ran down the outboards (the frames of the ship) into the Auxiliary Machinery Room. The AMR is where we keep the atmosphere handling gear, refrigeration, and the diesel generator. It managed to leak from the pantry into 21 man berthing and filled up some poor guy’s rack (he wasn’t in there at the time). He lost everything in his rack…his clothes, his laptop, books and magazines. It flowed into the aux tank, where we keep canned goods, fruits and vegetables.
The ship came to periscope depth, and lined up to ventilate, the air was thick, the smell inhuman. Or more accurately, all too human. An estimated 500 gallons of human waste was blown into the ship.
Think of where you work. What would your company do if the sewer backed up 500 gallons of waste into your workplace? Shut down, call in the professionals? Well, we are the professionals, and where are we going to go? This is our workplace and our home. We started cleaning up immediately.
Now, we stand 6 hour watches. Offgoing guys had to cleanup. On hands and knees scooping up the mess, bagging it and shuttling it off to the heads to put it back in the san tanks and anything that can’t be cleaned loaded into the TDU. For the next 18 hours, offgoing watches had to grab rubber gloves, paper towels, Simple Green and Orange Muscle and “get down with the brown.” Now you need to realize, the galley and crew’s mess is contaminated. We can’t use it to make meals. The only messing space not contaminated is the officer’s wardroom. The whole crew had to cycle through the wardroom (only 10 seats) for the next three meals. And what meals they were.
Breakfast…Graham crackers and cereal (with milk). Lunch…Graham crackers, cereal (with milk) and PB&J sandwiches. Dinner…Graham crackers, cereal (with milk), PB&J sandwiches, and soup.
For 18 hours the crew cleaned up shit, ventilated and shot trash from the TDU. The contaminated mattress was too large to shoot, so it was bagged up and put in the freezer for disposal later. The doc ran out of wiscodyne (disinfectant), but only after giving the galley and crew’s mess a clean bill of health. We ran out of paper towels and “cleaning juice.” Over $10,000 worth of food was contaminated and had to be jettisoned. Spaghetti, bread, canned food, vegetables, fruit…all shot from the TDU. Weeks later, the crew was still finding little pockets of poop in the AMR on weekly field days (all hands deep cleanup of the ship). The smell lasted longer. Ah, the call of the sea!
WWI poem found by a submariner at the
Submarine Base Groton, CT in 1966 Author unknown
Born in the shops of the devil Designed in the brains of a fiend Filled with acid and oil And christened “a submarine” The poets send in their ditties Of battleships spick and clean But never a word in their columns Do you see a submarine? I’ll try and depict our story In a very laconic way Please have patience to listen Until I have finished my say We eat where’re we can find it And sleep hanging up on hooks Conditions under which we’re existing Are never published in books Life on these boats is obnoxious And that is using mild terms We are never bothered by sickness There isn’t any room for germs We are never troubled with varmints There are things even a cockroach can’t stand And any self respecting rodent Quick as possible beats it for land And that little dollar per dive We receive to dive out of sight Is often earned more than double By charging the batteries at night And that extra compensation We receive on boats like these We never really get at all It’s spent on soap and dungarees Machinists get soaked in fuel oil Electricians in H2SO4 Gunners mates with 600W And torpedo slush galore When we come into the Navy Yard We are looked upon with disgrace And they make out some new regulations To fit our particular case Now all you battleship sailors When you are feeling disgruntled and mean Just pack your bag and hammock And go to “A Submarine” Avast, Matey!
~Meltdown Those of us on board in 1963 may remember the sea valves to the Jallao’s After Torpedo Room sanitary tank were inadvertently cracked open and the tank filled upand overflowed into the After Torpedo Room. This situation was not nearly as severe as the one above, but the collision alarm going off when you are sailing along at test depth always gives one pause for thought. I remember sitting in the crews mess and hearing the main ballast vent valves being cycled and then the MBT’s being blown. The Jallao’s attitude remained level and it seemed like we were not rising as we should. I had confidence in our crew and knew that all would be well, and it was. Just another day in the life of a submariner!
Written by Bob ‘Dex’ Armstrong
Contributed by Don Tetschlag
If you never rode the boats, this is going to sound silly and make absolutely no damn sense to you. If you did, you will remember the damn things and probably smile. The contraptions were simply called bunk bags. Not ‘U.S. Navy Bags, Bunk, Type II Mod 6, Unit of Issue, One Each’. Not ‘Shipboard Personal Gear Storage Pouch (Submarine) with Zipper’… Just gahdam ‘bunk bags’. They were elongated bags, designed specifically for horizontal passageway storage, hung from the tubular bunk frames on diesel boats. They were ugly, a sickening shade of lime-green (which indecently, closely resembled the color of barf after a three-day drunk) and had four snap straps that connected them to the bunk rail. It is my understanding that they were intended to eliminate the noise level created by Gillette safety razors, Zippo lighters, busted Timex watches, dice, flashlights, coins, and shrunken heads, purchased as gifts for wives, from rattling around in an aluminum sidelocker and giving away your position. They were either that lime-green or some kind of gray tweed and they were uglier than a blindman’s bride. But they had many desirable qualities if you were a nomadic resident of a submersible septic tank. First, they increased the allowable storage space and damn near doubled it. In layman’s terms, an E-3 could accumulate worldly goods amounting to those on par with migrating Mongolians and folks doing life on Devil’s Island. Next, and this can only be appreciated by an idiot bastard who never had the wonderful experience of a surface battery charge in a state five sea, the damn things hanging down on the passageway side of a berthing compartment, kept you from being beat to death, bouncing off inanimate objects bolted to the pressure hull. They serve to pad the piping surrounding the bunks known as bunk rails. Your ribs were very grateful. But the best thing about bunk bags was their ability to be converted into instant short-range luggage… Sort of a ‘submariners Samsonite overnight’ bag. By snapping the two center straps ogether, you could create what passed for a luggage handle… A poor excuse for a carrying device, but usable. A bunk bag full of the supplies needed for a 72-hour excursion into the heartland of the civilian population, was the worst of all possible choices. Mentally picture the left leg of a fat woman’s panty hose filled with jello and stitched up at the open end and at midway from thigh to toe, attach a sea bag handle and you have the most unwieldy AWOL bag ever created and the ugliest gahdam contraption ever invented by man… A floppy sausage full of the meager possessions of a long-range boat bum. The damn things had one distinct advantage that no other personal gear conveyance had. If you saw some fleet untouchable standing beside the highway with one of the fool things at his feet, you knew immediately that the hitchhiking sonuvabitch was a boatsailor. A fellow submarine sailor would burn flat spots in a new set of tires, stopping to pick you up. To every old white-haired smokeboat vet, the words ‘bunk bag’ bring a smile to his weather-beaten face. You would find it damn hard to come across an old petroleum-powered submersible resident who didn’t have fond memories of the worthless sonuvabitches.
The Thinning Ranks of Lockwood’s Iron Men
by Bob ‘Dex’ Armstrong
Do you remember them? The old rascals with the red hash marks and rate chevrons? Five or six rows of damn meaningful ribbons… Dolphins and a Combat Patrol pin? Back in the days when those forged in combat, case-hardened bastards roamed the piers of submarine bases and butt-buffed barstools in establishments throughout the world no self-respecting devil would be caught dead in… We called them simply… the World War II guys. They had not only ‘seen the elephant’, they saddle broke him and rode him all the way to Tokyo. If you melted down all the gold hash marks and rates in their submarine service, you wouldn’t have had enough material to have hammered out a Birmingham bus token. Gold geedunk and good conduct medals were not a big defining area of consideration in the world of these red blooded American giants… Men, who had gone to sea in iron sharks and chewed the heart out of the Japanese naval war machine, didn’t require any additional credentials to reinforce their personal reputations.
The rollicking bastards had written their saga in a trail of rusting hulks and busted bar furniture from Hell to Hokkaido… And had sent an endless stream of oriental miscreants off to Buddha amid fire and the smell of burning Torpex. In 1945, they were the unquestioned hairy- chested jungle kings of the Pacific…’Uncle Charlie’s, get the hell out of my way’ card-carrying rascals… Admiral Charles Lockwood’s iron men. In my day, they were the men who held the senior leadership positions… The proven and seasoned leadership of the submarine service. They were the ‘old men of the sea’ to us. And all we wanted… All we aspired to be, was to be like them and worthy of their acceptance. As we grew old… They grew even older. I am not sure they mellowed, just grew long in the tooth and spent more and more time burying each other and cussing hearing loss and the pros and cons of Polygrip, Viagra and Metamucil. Every year, some idiot jaybird would show up on their TV tube and tell about this wonderful World War II Memorial, that was to be built in their nations capital. Then, mister TV man would disappear until next Groundhog Day. There was the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, and the World War II Memorial. The ‘eternal patrol’ sailing list grew longer and longer and no national recognition for the “Greatest Generation”. We built monuments to honor the participants of lesser ‘wars’, conflicts… Conflicts that never really ended… Ones we lost… But we just never got around to honoring the ‘quiet generation’ that fought and won a world-wide hell raiser and handed this nation its last two fully Unconditional Surrenders against two of the most insidious regimes Satin ever gave birth to. Old Gringo, Capt. Ned Beach & Capt. George Street are numbered among those who got their final orders and couldn’t wait. They are numbered among those who will never see the Memorial built to honor them… Every day the list of eligible and deserving wearers of the combat pin, shrinks. Of the sins of man, indifference and ingratitude are the most difficult to survive. Bureaucratic indifference compounds the shameful nature of our national failure to extend to these very non-demanding warrior giants a long overdue national handshake. Shame on us… Shame on us all. What we do or not do, will not change the record they wrote in valorous deeds and sublime self-sacrifice so many years ago. They will always be the men who went to sea and stuck their blows for freedom, liberty and our American way of life from beneath the sea. Men who shared bad air, depleted rations, and the deafening sounds of enemy depth charges, together. Men who wore sweat-soaked dungaree shirts and repeatedly pinned the tail on Hirohito’s donkey. No, they created their own memorial… The one signed by the little grinning buck-toothed monkeys on the deck of the USS Missouri in Tokyo Harbor… A harbor totally absent of Nip war vessels that missed the terminal festivities because of U.S. Submarine prearranged dates with Pacific Ocean floor oxidation. Many of the still remaining World War II boat sailors will miss the ceremonies and hoopla attending what effetist artists and fawning politicians have created as a national thank you. Again…
Shame on us. Your true ‘thank you’ will rest with history’s accounting of what you did, why you did it and the magnificent legacy you passed to the down line members of the United States Submarine Service, and the appreciation of the yet unborn, who will mature in free air without the weight of the despot’s heel on their necks. You were iron men who took iron ships to sea and left an unparalleled record of courage and duty, faithfully performed. A record that should serve to inspire every lad who enters his country’s Navy in search of adventure in a service with an extremely proud heritage. What you did makes what came before and since pale to bullshit by comparison. Somebody needed to say that… Somebody who wore Dolphins and simply wanted to drink beer in your company, listen to your history, ride your boats and feel your handshake of acceptance… You were, are and ever will be, heroes in every sense of the term, to that lad. Your self-sacrifice was unparalleled in the annals of naval history. So thanks from an old gray haired sonuvabitch who danced with the Goddess of The Main Induction, long after you left her to us. She had holes in her stockings, strands of white hair and sagging tits, but she could still do that North Atlantic saltwater fandango and bounce around like a twenty-year-old fan dancer. God bless anyone who slammed hatches on the iron monsters that went to periscope depth and sent the saltwater valentines that kept me from ending up eating fish heads and rice, listening to Tokyo Rose bring me the news and saying the pledge of allegiance to that goofy-looking meatball flag.
Submarine Slang Terms and Phrases
If you are easily offended, turn back now! Many of these terms and phrases are quite explicit, but understand that many of these were used in the days before political correctness. Submariners give a lot of themselves…years underwater missing birthdays, births, anniversaries, funerals, holidays, milestones in the lives of the children, etc, so give them a break.
12 mile limit – referring to the international 12 mile boundary, but sailors use it to mark the time when “anything goes” when outside the 12 mile limit.
”120 sailors go down, 60 couples come back” – derogatory phrase used by jealous surface sailors who think they are being funny.
20 knots – The maximum speed of a submarine that is allowed to be told to someone outside the submarine community.
400 feet – The maximum depth of a submarine that is allowed to be told to someone outside the submarine community.
42 and a wake-up – actually, any number and a wake-up. Counting down to going home, retirement, or any other significant event.
7 P’s – Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance. Phrase usually found around any training facility. Also known as Piss Poor Planning Produces Piss Poor Performance.
ADCAP – ADvanced CAPability. Latest version of the Mark 48 torpedo.
“Air in the banks, shit in the tanks, ready to submerge below… sound the diving alarm!” – An abbreviated, unauthorized, yet humorous way to report the submarine is ready to dive.
Ahead Flank, Cavitate! – to go really fast without regard to how much noise you make. Usually done when attacked by a torpedo.
“All I need is a family gram and a diet coke and I am happy to be underway” – Usually said by a salty old submariner to a non-qual to indicate how dedicated they are.
“All hands desiring to do so lay to the do so locker and do so” – Humor, no real meaning other than to mock other 1MC announcements.
Angles and Dangles – The time when the submarine is making radical depth changes. Usually done during sea trials and pre-deployment underway period to ensure everything is stowed for sea properly.Assholes and elbows – the only things which should be seen by a boatswains mate when deck hands are on their hands and knees holystoning a wooden deck. Still used to indicate that during field day everyone should be cleaning and not goofing off.
A.T.F.Q. – Answer the fucking question.
Baboon ass – slang for corned beef due to it’s color and consistency.
Bagged – as in “I got bagged” by the off going watch. Meaning you got left with something that someone else was suppose to do.
Baffles – the area immediately behind the submarine.
Balls to the wall – Flank Speed.
Banging Air – Air Charge.
Bent Shitcan – Someone below Naval standards. “He’s as fucked up as a bent shitcan.”
B.F.H. – Big Fucking Hammer. Also see Torpedoman’s Tweeker.
Bilge Pickers – A long thin tool used to pick items out of out-of-reach areas.
Biologics – Marine life picked up on sonar…usually noisy whales, dolphins, shrimp, etc.
Blow and Go – To emergency blow the main ballast tanks.
Blowing a Shitter – Inadvertently “flushing” a toilet while sanitary tanks are being blown overboard. This caused excrement and toilet paper to be blown all over the head to the delight of the rest of the crew.
Blow Job – Emergency blow or emergency ventilate.
Blue Nose – A person who has crossed the Arctic Circle an been initiated.Booger board – A cork board used by old submarines sailors to show off their boogers. Why? Because you can.
B.O.C.O.D. – Beat Off Cut Off Date. The date before returning home from a deployment to stop masturbating in order to save it up for your wife or girlfriend.
B.O.H.I.C.A. – Bend Over Here It Comes Again. Referring to something bad about to happen again or as usual.
Boomer Fag – Crewmember of a Ballistic Missile Submarine (SSBN). Usually used by jealous fast boat sailors.
Boondockers – The standard workday steel-toed boots.
Boondoggle – Any unorganized, inefficient evolution or a trip taken on government time a money.
Boomer Widow – Used to describe an SSBN sailor’s wife looking for a temporary fling, often with another sailor. Also see WestPac widow. In some cases the wife would take on a lover from the other crew, thus negating her chances of getting caught.
Boy butter – Slang term for silicone grease.
Box of Rocks – Derogatory term for a sailor that has performed their work in an unsatisfactory manner.
Brain Fart – a condition when, under stress, one cannot recall or perform something that would normally be easy or second nature.
Bravo Zulu – Originally “BZ” was a signal meaning “Well Done”. It is usually used by seniors to praise subordinates in one form or another.
Bremerloes – Female of husky build and /or ugly as hell. Term originated at Bremerton, Washington base where they are rather common. Also know as Grotopotomus when in Groton, Connecticut.
Broach or Broaching the Boat – Sticking the sail of the submarine out of the water…a cardinal sin for a Diving Officer when underway. This is typically only intentionally done when preparing to surface so any other infraction (broach) while submerged could result in the submarine being detected.
B.U.B. – Barely Useful Body.
Bubblehead – Internationally recognized term of endearment for a submarine sailor.
Bug Juice – Kool-Aid-like beverage in dispensers on the messdecks. Before the turn of the century bug juice was also used as a replacement for cleaning agents to clean decks with. Still used for removing corrosion from brass fittings.
B.U.F.F. – Big Ugly Fat Fucker.
Bullshit flag – An imaginary flag that someone “raises” when they believe that what someone is telling them is pure and utter bullshit. They will call out “I am raising the bullshit flag on that one” or in some cases sailors actually carry around a rag that they will throw on the ground as their bullshit flag.
Bumfuck, Egypt – A bad duty station or bad place in general.
Bunk Bag – They were originally elongated bags, designed for horizontal passageway storage and hung from the tubular bunk frames on diesel boats. In later years they were hung inside racks and usually used for dirty clothes or to hide porn and patrol socks.
Bunkie – a term of endearment for your bed, bunk, or rack.
Burn the flick – Indicates to start the movie.
Burn Run – An organized evolution to dispose of the classified material stored in burn bags.
Buttshark – Also known as a brown-noser or butt snorkeler. A person that is buddying up to another person (usually an asshole) to gain favor and for ulterior motives.
Cadillac – A mop bucket, usually with wheels and a wringer.
“Cake and cock and we’re outta cake.” – A humorous comeback by Mess Specialist when asked what is for chow when it is clearly posted in the Plan of the Day. Usually used when serving bratwurst, kielbasa, hot dogs, etc.
Casino Night – a night designated to play casino games such as poker, black jack, etc to raise money for the recreation committee.
Channel Fever – Said if a sailor is anxious when approaching port to get leave.
Check Valve – Also known as a “one way check valve”. A submariner who does things for himself/herself but does not reciprocate.
Chasing the Bubble – A term when the Diving Officer can’t seem to the trim of the boat right and the “bubble” (much like the bubble in a leveling tool) is riding up and down wildly, thus the boat is see-sawing through the water.
Chicken Switches – Emergency Blow Actuation Valves.
Chop – The Supply Officer. Taken from the Supply Corps’ pork chop-shaped insignia.
Clean Sweep – Refers to having “swept the enemy from the seas,” a completely successful mission. It is traditionally indicated by lashing a broom to the periscope of a submarine.
Clear your baffles – Look behind you…also known as “sweep the baffles”.
“Close enough for horseshoes, hand grenades or Polaris Missiles.” – A highly technical slang term used when a job is good enough to call complete. Also known as “Close enough for government work.”
Cluster Fuck – Refers to when a group performs some task in a severely disorganized manner, usually with poor results. May also be used to describe any person or thing that is in a state of general disarray. “That kid is a walking cluster fuck.” Can be indicated using the NATO phonetic Charlie Foxtrot for CF.
C.O.B. – Chief of the Boat, Crabby Old Bastard, Clueless Overweight Bastard. The senior enlisted person on board a submarine.
Comshaw, cumshaw – something extra or free, given as a favor or gift comes from the pigeon expression using the Chinese word for grateful, thanks, “kamsia”.
Comanche Bollocks – Royal Navy Jack speak for ‘Tin Tomatoes’.
Coner – A submarine crewman who is not part of the engineering department, especially Torpedomen, because they are stationed in the forward cone of the Sub. Also known as “Forward Pukes” (as opposed to “Fuckin’ Nukes”) or M.U.F.F.s (My Up Forward Friends).
Cow – A refrigerated fixture in the galley that dispenses something like milk.
C.O.W. – Chief of the Watch. In charge of the ballast, air and water systems while underway.
CPO Spread – The worlds most useless and uncomfortable rack/bunkie sheet. See “Rack Burn”.
Countdown calendar – used to count down the days until returning to port. Can be an actual calendar, chain made of paperclips, etc.
Crab bridge – dental floss strung between bunks whenever a shipmate was found out to have gotten crabs. The dental floss was a humorous way of building a bridge for the crabs to travel on and infect other crew members.
Crank – Mess deck worker, typically a new transferee to a submarine assigned to mess deck duties while qualifying for a regular watch. Also see NUB.
Crazy Ivan – Demonstrated in the movie The Hunt for Red October. Russian submarines would quickly turn 180 degrees while underway to see whether any American submarines were following.
Crotch crickets – scabies, lice, crabs.
C.R.I.S. – Cranial Rectal Insertion Syndrome. Having one’s head up one’s own ass.
Crotch Novel – A book of pornography. Usually well worn.
Cumshaw – Obtaining by bartering outside of official channels and paperwork.
C.U.N.T. – Civilian Under Naval Training. A term used by disgruntled sailors impatiently awaiting their day to get out of the Navy. These were usually prime candidates to actually reenlist.
D.A.D. – Day After Duty. Usually a day off after duty afforded to sailors who worked throughout the night.
“Damn, man, your voice has changed but your breath still smells the same” – Someone farted. Also heard as “Keep talking Lieutenant, we’ll find you.”
D.B.F. – Diesel Boats Forever. An unauthorized pin showing a non-nuclear submarine. Worn proudly by diesel boat sailors and generally tolerated by senior officers.
Dick Skinners – Your hands, i.e. “get your dick skinners off my white hat”, also known as Peterclamps, Meathooks, and Dick Beaters.
Dicking the dog – putting a “half-assed” effort into a task (refers to improperly securing the “dogs” on a watertight hatch when passing through. Such a lax procedure could spell doom for a sinking ship if hatches were not absolutely watertight). Also said as “poking the poodle”. Not to be confused with “screwing the pooch” which refers to royally messing up a task.
D.I.L.L.I.G.A.F. – Does It Look Like I Give A Fuck? Universal acronym, but widely used in the Navy.
Dink – Short for delinquent. See Dink List.
Dink Check – Usually done just prior to movies and in areas where crewmembers might be relaxing. This was done to check the area clear of non-qualified crewmembers who were on the dink list. (See below)
Dink List – Delinquent List. A list of non-qualified individuals who are not up to date on their qualification’s status. In the older days of submarining this was checked often and a loss of privileges was afforded anyone on the dink list.
Diver’s 1MC Announcement – “There are divers over the side, do not rotate screws, cycle rudders, take suction from or discharge to the sea, blow flood or vent any tanks, or operate any underwater equipment or activate sonar. There are divers over the side.”
Dog and Pony show – A special show put on for inspecting senior officers. Normally sailors are instructed not to ask questions of the senior officers even if requested by the inspecting officer.
Dolphins – slang term for submarine warfare insignia…or those cute little fishies that follow the submarine to sea.
Donkey-Dick – refers to the head valve indicator (a rod which shows if the snorkel’s intake valve is open), the hose fitting used for the towed array sonar, and anything else that is roughly round and longer than it is wide. Also used to describe hot dogs, kielbasa, and Polish sausages.
“Don’t let your alligator mouth overload your mocking bird ass.” – Normally said to a non-qual who is getting a little cocky.
Douche Kit – Container (usually zipper closed) for toilet articles such as shaving cream, deodorant, after shave lotion, etc.
Double Digit Midget – A short timer. Someone who is less than 100 days from retirement, EAOS, being discharged to civilian life, or returning to port.
Drinking your dolphins – Extinct tradition. In the old submarine force a time-honored tradition was to drink your dolphins if you were newly qualified. This consisted of your shipmates buying a shot of everything behind the bar and putting it all in a pitcher, dropping the dolphins into the pitcher and the newly qualified submariner drinking until her caught his dolphins in his teeth. Unfortunately, incidents occurred from alcohol poisoning and injury from getting dolphins stuck in the throat, so the practice was officially banned. Dynamited Chicken – Chicken a la King or Chicken Cacciatore.
EAB – Emergency Air Breathing. Akin to the fires of Hell, wearing this mask and going around plugging it in was/is a submariner’s worst nightmare. Known as “sucking rubber” this mask could give you a headache and attitude adjustment in the worst way just inside 30 seconds. Making matters worse would be looking around at all the drill monitors not wearing theirs.
E.S.A.D. – Eat Shit and Die.
E.W.A.G. – Engineered Wild Ass Guess or Educated Wild Ass Guess. Also see S.W.A.G.
Fabulous feces contest – An old submariner contest in that the person who produced the unbroken longest feces (turd) during a deployment would win a prize.
Failed open – Used to describe when a person can’t sleep and their eyes won’t shut.
Family-grams – The one way communication given to family before a submariner left on deployment. Family grams changed over the years, but were usually limited to 20-50 words depending on operational priorities. Family grams were sent from the loved one and were screened for anything that might upset the receiving submariner. They were usually read over and over and sometimes misinterpreted causing much stress with the sailor. Fart Sack – Mattress covers.
F.A.T.A.S.S. – Fast Attack Tough And Super Salty.
Fat pill – A bread roll, or cinnamon roll.
Fightin’ gear – Eating utensils.
Finger wave – Prostate exam.
Firing Point Procedures – The announced point at which target motion analysis has been completed on a target and a solution has been generated to the point of making preparations to shoot a torpedo. In reality it is the time at which new Weapons Officers often reevaluate and over-think the solution and make adjustments that will ultimately result in missing the target.
Fish – Torpedoes or Submarine Warfare Qualification Insignia.
Float test – To toss overboard.
F.L.O.B. – Freeloading Oxygen Breather. Someone who is not holding their own or carrying their share of the load. Usually a non-qual dink puke.
F.O.A.D. – Fuck Off and Die. Self explanatory.
Foxtail – A soft hair brush used for cleaning.
Fresh Meat – A new non-qualified person board.
F.U.B.A.R. – Fucked Up Beyond All Recognition. Also known as Fouled Up Beyond All Recognition.
Gear Adrift – Items not stowed away.
Geedunk – Candy, vending machine items, etc.
Gilly – Illegal pure grain alcohol. Also known as “Torpedo Juice”.Goat locker – A term of endearment for the Chief’s Quarters. As in that is where the old goats live.
Goatrope or goatfuck – Any situation that is “FUBAR.”
Gorilla snot- compartment bulkhead stuffing tube sealer.
Grape signature – Refers to a qualification checkout that was less than adequate but the system expert signs off the qualification anyway.
Green board – When the status on the ballast control panel indicates all hull opening are shut (a green slash) and the submarine can be submerged. Also known as a “straight board”.
Grotopotamus – The rather large ladies that graze around the Groton, CT area. Similar to a Bremerloe.
Grottweiler – see Grotopotamus.
Growler – A sound-powered phone on older submarines.
G.U.A.M. – Give Up And Masturbate
Gun decking the logs – Filling out a form or log with mostly imaginary data. Usually done out of laziness or because they got behind. See also “Radioing the logs” and “Pencil Whipping”.
Halfway night – The designated night that marked the halfway point in a deployment. Usually, halfway night was marked with a special dinner and entertainment from the crew. Often in conjunction with Casino Night.
Hall balls – Ahead Flank or going very fast.
Hawaiian Bark Spiders – Farts.
Hazing – Sorry, but no definition for this. It does not exist. 😉
“He/She made Chief when Noah was a cabin boy” – Refers to a very old Chief. Many variations exists.
“He’s/She’s dumber than a box of rocks!” – Self explanatory universal phrase for a dumbass.
“He’s/She’s so full of crap the birds won’t land on him!” – Also self explanatory and used for a constant bullshitter.
“Hey Messcrank another Gedunk” – A common phrase used in the golden days of submarining when a qualified sailor would harass a non-qualified individual who was doing mess duty. Many variations exists, such as “Crank, more potatoes”, or “Crank what the fuck is taking you so long?”
H.M.F.I.C. – Head Mother Fucker In Charge. Self Explanatory phrase used to designate who is in charge.
Hockey pucks – Swedish meatballs.
Hogans Alley – The berthing section of the after battery on diesel boats that doesn’t have any traffic. Like a dead end street, only one way in and out.
Holidays – Mythical days of the year that are non-existent while on deployment.
Hollywood showers – A long and normally unauthorized shower utilizing as much water as the offender wants. Normally attributed to Sonar Technicians and Radiomen.
Horse Cock – Large log of baloney or overcooked kielbasa usually put out for lunch or mid rats.
“Horse Play Leads to Sick Bay” – Phrase meaning don’t be fucking around or you will get hurt.
Hot Cock – The latest news or rumors. Also known as “the skinny” or “scuttlebutt”.
Hot Racking or Hot Bunking – Sharing racks. When one goes off, the other takes his place, thus the rack never gets cold. (Three men share two racks).
“How’s your wife and my kids?” – Usually used by boomer sailors from opposite crews. A way of getting under their skin, but sometimes true.
“I can neither confirm nor deny the presence of nuclear weapons aboard any Navy vessel” – Standard answer given to civilians when they ask whether the submarine is carrying nuclear missiles.
“I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you” – Another standard answer when a submariner is asked about specific missions they have been on.
“I got more time sittin’ on the shitter sucking rubber and reading piping tabs at test depth than you have time in the Navy, ya non-qual dink puke.” Many variations of this exists, but used to put a non-qual in their place. Examples include, “I’ve wrung more salt water out of my socks that you’ve sailed over, ya nub!”, “I’ve got belt buckles with more sea time than you.”, and “I’ve so much time at sea, I’d rather hear a young boy fart than a pretty girl sing.”
“I had it, you got it. Any questions, I’ll be in my rack” – A common abbreviated, unauthorized turnover from watch stander to another. Usually used when the off-going watchstander was extremely tired.
“If it don’t move, paint it” – Poking fun at the Navy’s relentless need to paint everything.
“If it is fucked – unfuck it” – In another words, if it is broke, fix it.
“If it was up your ass eating a ham sandwich you’d know” – Smartass answer given back to a non-qual when ask a qualification question and they respond with “I don’t know”.
“If you are looking for sympathy, you can find it in the dictionary between shit and syphilis” – Self explanatory phrase used to show non-compassion.“I’m so short, when I look in the mirror, I’m not there!” – Phrase used by sailors getting close to their separation date or another important event.
“In the Fan Room, no one can hear you scream!” – A ‘threat’ to a non-qual who is less than motivated.
“I was never there, not aware, and have no knowledge of any particular operation” – Standard reply to question about special operations.
“I would rather have sister in a whorehouse than a brother on a skimmer” – Interpretation…surface ships suck.
Joe Navy – Another term for a lifer with no life outside the Navy.
J-5 = steak
Laundry Queen – the person assigned to do the laundry…typically a non-qualified person.
L.B.F.M. – Little Brown Fuck Machine. Derogatory term (or sometimes a term of endearment) for a hot Asian girl, usually a prostitute or B-girl. Also known as L.B.F.M.P.B.R. or Little Brown Fuck Machine Powered By Rice.
Lieu-fucking-tenant – Illustrates Navy practice of including a swear word INSIDE another word. Another favorite – Abso-fucking-lutley.
Lifer – A name given to both officers and enlisted men who love the Navy and make it clear they want to be in for 20 or more years. Lifers will try to convince others to re-enlist. Also, lifers say things like “there is nothing a Sailor needs that is not in his sea-bag” this usually is a comment implying a Sailor does not need to see his spouse or children.
L.I.F.E.R. – Lazy Incompetent Fucker Escaping Reality or Lazy Incompetent Fucker Expecting Retirement.
Lifer cup – Also know as THE Cup. A porcelain white coffee cup with blue stripes usually stained brown by repeated use. Never washed, except as a prank by disgruntled juniors.
Lower-than-whale-spunk-non-qual-dink-puke – A term of endearment given to a non-qualified sailor from a qualified dolphin wearing submariner.
Low Voltage flat cocks – IC men.
Mail Buoy – A fictitious buoy that mail for a ship is left on. Usually new sailors are given a mail buoy watch for the entertainment of the more seasoned sailors.
Make a hole! or make a hole, working Navy! – used to get people to clear a path in a cramped area.
Mandatory fun – When attending a ship’s function, such as a picnic or party was mandatory.
M.A.R.F. – Make a Round Fucker. Often used by Missile Technicians to get their Roving Watch to make a round through the missile compartment.
Meat Gazer – A senior enlisted person that has to watch crewmembers give their urine samples all day.
Men Working in the Sail 1MC announcement – “There are men working in the sail. Do not raise, lower, rotate or radiate from any mast or antenna. There are men working in the sail”.
Metric fuck ton – Another highly technical measuring term used when something weighs a lot. Also known as a “butt ton”, “shit ton”, and “that’s fucking heavy”.
“Mind Your Bubble” – The indication of the ship’s angle fore and aft. The Diving Officer of the Watch (DOOW – pronounced “Dive”) controls the angle on the ship by various means. If the angle becomes too large he will be ordered to “Mind your bubble.” In rough weather near the surface, maintaining the angle on the ship can be very difficult. When the Dive can no longer control the angle on the ship by the means at his disposal, he is said to have “Lost the Bubble.”
Mouse House – Ballistic Missile Submarine slang description of areas usually occupied by Missile Technicians. Also used to describe MCC (Missile Control Center).
“Mr. (insert name of offending officer here) is so fucking stupid he couldn’t pour piss out of his boots if the instructions were written on the heel” – Used by enlisted personnel to describe an officer who is young, dumb, and full of cum.
Mung – Any dark green/brown plant residue with snot-like consistency found in/on scuppers. (mostly in engineering spaces).
Mushroom Club – Imaginary club that some crew members belong to. As in “they feed us shit and keep us in the dark.”
“My mood has a slight down bubble” – Submarine speak for I’m having a bad day.
Mystery Shitter – an intoxicated sailor who returns from the beach and is unable to safely reach the head, defecates in random locations prior to climbing into his or her rack to sleep it off. Also used for someone who sneaks in and takes a shit but leaves it in the bowl without flushing.
Needle dick bug fucker – Another term of endearment for a non-qualified crew member.
No Fuck, Vagina – Norfolk, Virginia.
Non-skid – A rough epoxy coating used for grip on the topside walking surfaces of a submarine.
No-Shitter – A sea story which is mostly (never completely) fictional, and unverifiable as well. Examples: “Hey, this is a no shitter, but I once blah blah blah…” or “Hey this is a no-shitter, I got a buddy who once blah blah blah…”
N.Q.P. – Non-Qual Puke. A non-qualified crewman who is not yet able to stand watch or is not yet qualified in submarines.
N.U.B. – Non Useful Body or ‘Nuther Useless Body. A sailor who has not yet earned his Submarine Warfare Qualification (Dolphins).
Nut to Butt – Slang used to describe packing the line in tighter.
Occifer – Pronounced “ossifur”. It is a derogatory reference towards officers in general, particularly junior officers…unless you have a lisp.
Operation Golden Flow – Urine drug testing
Oxy-panic – the look of terror on a shipmates face when he is piggybacking on your EAB hose and you disconnect without warning him.
Paper Assholes – Gummed re-enforcements for the page holes for a 3 ring binder.
P.A.P.E.R.C.L.I.P. – People Against People Ever Reenlisting Civilian Life Is Preferable. Term used to show dissatisfaction with enlistment or unity amongst a brotherhood of bitter and disaffected sailors, specifically submariners. Often symbolized by the wearing of a paperclip on the uniform in varying levels of prominence to indicate the sailor’s level of disgruntlement.
Patrol shoes – Any type of shoe other than Navy issue that is worn underway only. Example include tennis shoes, bowling shoes, and cowboy boots.
P.E.B.K.A.C. – Problem Exists Between Keyboard And Chair (always popular in radio and sonar). Loose interpreted, operator error.
Pecker Checker – Navy doctor or Corpsman.
Pencil whip – Filling out a form with mostly imaginary data. Usually done out of laziness or because they got behind. Also know as “Gundecking or Radioing the logs”.
Periscope Liberty – Viewing the outside world through a periscope. The longer you have been at sea the better it is. The best periscope liberty usually involved beaches, topless women in pleasure craft, and viewing whales while underwater.
P.F.M. – Pure Fucking Magic. Normally used when something seemed to “fix itself” or an answer came about without the use of logic.
Phantom Shitter – that sick bastard that would shit in a trash can, put it into trash compactor so they could and laugh at the person who had to compact it.
Ping Jockey – Term used to describe Sonar Technicians.
Piping tab – A manual of all submarine systems (air, hydraulics, plumbing, electrical, etc). In the older days it was big enough to fit into your poopy suit back pocket and no non-qual was ever seen without one for fear of retribution.
Plastic Cow – The dehydrated milk they use after the real milk runs out.
P.M.F.L. – Pure Mother Fucking Luck. Usually used when skill didn’t work.
Poking holes in the ocean – Underway on a submarine.
P.O.N.T.I.A.C. – Poor Ol’ Nub Thinks It’s A Career.
Poopysuit – Blue overalls worn when deployed out to sea.
Portable Air Sample – A snipe hunt gag inflicted on “newbies.” Normally, portable air samples are regularly collected by a hand-held device operated by a highly qualified crewmember. In this snipe hunt gag, however, a plastic garbage bag is inflated like a balloon and sealed, sometimes with “official” forms taped to the exterior; the newbie is then dispatched to take this important atmospheric sample to the Executive Officer (NEVER the Skipper). Depending on that particular XO’s sense of humor, the newbie could possibly come back with interesting counter-orders.
Prairie chicken – rabbit.
“Prepare to ventilate the boat!” – A phrase used to bring fresh air into the boat but more often used as a phrase after someone has let loose an obnoxious fart. Also used in conjunction with “Pressure in the boat” and “Crack the hatch”.
Puka – Sailors speak used to indicate a small storage location or hole.
Purging 02 Generators 1MC Announcement – “The smoking lamp is out in Machinery One while purging Oxygen Generators.”
Purple pen – A pen with purple ink used to sign a grape signature, or a less than earned signature for a qualification checkout.
Pussy patch – A transdermal scopolamine patch for seasickness.
Rack – Bed.
Rack Burn – Reddish marks seen on the face of a sailor who has just emerged from sleeping in his/her rack. Scorned upon if he/she was not supposed to be there. Often caused by the ridges in a CPO spread (blanket).
Rack Hound – Derogatory but usually with a hint of envy term used for someone who sleeps a lot. Sailor that spends more than his/her fair share of time in the “Rack”. Usually spoken when seeing somebody with Rack Burns; “You are such a Rack Hound!”.
Racki-dexterous – the ability to get shit out of your rack foot locker without getting out of your rack.
Racking Out – Going to bed.
Radioing the logs – Filling out a form or log with mostly imaginary data. Usually done out of laziness or because they got behind. See also “Gundecking the logs” and “Pencil Whipping”.
Rain locker – A shower stall.
‘Rats – Short of Midrations. Food for the midnight to 6 am watch that usually consists of leftovers, sandwich fixings, beanie weanies, etc.
Reactor scram – a completely made-up casualty developed by nucs to keep coners from having a good Hollywood shower and to secure the bug juice machine.
“Reveille, reveille, up all bunks. Drop your cocks, put on your socks, it’s daylight in the swamp” – Old phrase used when waking up the crew. Extinct.
Rig for red – In the old days of submarining certain spaces in the boat would be rigged for red (all red lights) prior to going to periscope depth, when surfacing at night, or all the time in sonar. The red lights helped adjust eyes to the dark. Unfortunately, in later years studies found that the red light was actually irritable to the eyes and made people more aggressive. Other colors were tested and used, such as blue, yellow and eventually low level white (dirty gray).
Rig for sea – To get the all submarine systems lined up for sea and to ensure the boat is stowed for sea.
Rig for silent running (or ultra-quiet) – Turning off all unnecessary equipment so as to make the submarine as quite as possible. Also known as “ultra quiet”.
Rig ship for lady visitors – Before women were allowed on submarines the crew would be informed of women visitors so as to not say or do anything inappropriate and to put away all smut locker material.R.O.A.D. Program – Retired On Active Duty. Refers to a sailor who is getting ready to retire and is not doing much more than taking up space until that time.
Roast Beast – Roast Beef, or any meat served aboard the ship that even the cooks who prepared it don’t know what it is.
Rock – Term used to describe a sailor that acts as though he hasn’t learned anything.
R.T.F.M. – Read The Fucking Manual. Also know as R.T.F.B. (Read The Fucking Book)
R.T.F.Q. – Read the fucking question.
Rumor Control – The often wildly inaccurate rumors that concern fictitious changes to the ship’s schedule.
Sail she may, shine she must – Old sailor term used to describe the monotony of shining brass and chrome when it felt like the priorities were more import to clean and shine rather than get underway to sea.
Sailorproof – Meaning a sailor cannot break this. Unfortunately, this is much like a unicorn, the Loch Ness monster, and Bigfoot…it has never been found. Many engineers have tried to make things sailorproof but with only limited/no success.
Salty – Someone who has been in the Navy a long time or has a lot of sea experience.
Sandbagging – When a player in any game chooses (on purpose) to not play their best. Normally this is because they are too superior, they want to hustle you, or they are too lazy to play their best with nothing on the line. Used extensively in Hearts, Spades and Pinochle, thus the reason many players institute a sandbagging rule to penalize a sandbagging player when they have under-declared the amount of tricks they will make.
S.A.P.F.U. – Surpassing All Previous Fuck-Ups.
S.C.R.A.M. – Safety Control Reactor Axe Man.
Screwed, blued, and tattooed – Old Navy term meant to describe what sailors did on shore leave or liberty. Screwed – get laid, Blued = get drunk, and Tattooed = get a tattoo.
Scupper Trout – Sewage solids or turds being washed overboard, or floating turds in the ocean which have been pumped overboard. Also know as a “Cornbacked Gator” or “Brown Trout”.
Scuttlebutt – Drinking fountain or rumor (originated from the rumors that would be spread on board ship while gathered about the water barrel). Also known as “hot cock” or “the skinny”.
Sea Daddy – Senior, more experienced sailor who unofficially takes a new member of the crew under his wing and mentors him.
Seaman Schmuckatelli – Generic name for a sailor, used in a similar manner as “Joe Blow” or “John Q. Public”. Example: “You’re working on an electrical system without tagging it out, when along comes Seaman Schmuckatelli, who energizes the circuit and ZAP, you’re fried calamari.”
Sea Story – usually starts with “this is a no shitter…” or “this one time in (insert foreign port)…”It is up to the listener of the story to decide of it is true or not…kind of like these slang terms.
“Secure from field day, commence cleanup ship!” – Used when cleanup during Field Day did not produce the desired results.
Sewer Pipe Sailor – Diesel Submariner. Derives from the smell achieved from riding in a diesel boat.
Shaft seals – A mythological creature that lives in shaft alley.
Sherwood Forest – Slang term used to describe the missile compartment on an SSBN submarine.
Shit on a raft – Chipped beef in gravy over toast. Also know as “Shit on a Shingle”.
Shipmate – Any fellow Sailor. Also, used as a derogatory term against all junior enlisted personnel i.e. E-5 and below. An Officer, Chief or First Class will use this to show they think so little of you, they haven’t bothered to take the time out of their day to learn your name. Sometimes when used for a less than stellar sailor the term “shipwreck” will be substituted.
Shit can – Either the name for a trash can, or the act of throwing something into the trash.
Shit house mouse – Someone assigned to Mess cook duty.
“Shit in the tanks, air in the banks, I had it you got it” – A common abbreviated, unauthorized turnover from watch stander to another. Commonly used by a Chief of the Watch or Aux Forward.
Short or Short-timer – someone with not much time left on board or in the Navy.
Shower Tech – Sonar Technician. They do love their showers!
Single digit midget – A person who is down to less than 10 days from getting back to port, exiting the Navy, etc.
Skate – A sailor who avoids work in general while not being detected; for example the ability to “skate” out of work undetected while being assigned to a 14 man working party.
Skimmer – A derogatory term for a surface ship or a surface sailor.
Slept out – When you have slept so much that you can’t sleep anymore. Not applicable to Sonar Technicians, Radioman, and Navigation Electronics Technicians.
Sliders – Mess deck/chow hall hamburgers/cheeseburgers, so named for their high grease content and purported ability to ‘slide’ through the alimentary canal.
S.L.I.F.F. – Silly Little Ignorant Fat Fuck.
“Smile! At least your wife is getting laid” – A fun term used by qualified personnel to a non-qualified personnel. Normally more effective the longer a non-qualification person has gone without a family-gram.
Smoking lamp – A term used to designate a place or time when smoking is allowed. Becoming extinct.
Smoke test – Slang for testing something at full power or turning on a piece of damaged equipment.
Smut locker – A designated place to store pornography while underway.
S.N.A.F.U. – Situation Normal All Fucked Up or Situation Normal All Fouled Up.
Snatch in the hatch – A woman coming down a hatch. Normally submariners run to see if the female is wearing a dress or not.
Snatch in the house – A woman on board a submarine.
S.N.O.B. – Shortest Nuc On Board.
Sonar Girls – Derogatory term used for the Sonar Technicians.
“So, what are they going to do? Take my birthday away?” – Many variations of this phrase exists such as “So, what are they going to do? Ship me out on a fast attack?” and
So, what are they going to do? Send me to sea?” Used as a form of rebellion.
Spin Up All Missiles – To make ballistic missiles ready for launch.
Squat to Pee – A derogatory term for an ELT (Engineering Laboratory Technician).
S.S.N. – Saturdays, Sundays, and Nights. In reference to SSN (fast attack) submarines working 7 days a week.
Starters or Commencement Cream – British submarine names for K.Y. Jelly.
Steel Beach Picnic – Celebration on the topside of a submarine usually involving a swim call and barbecue.
Steely-eyed Stealthy Killers of the Deep – Submarine sailors.
Still – Evaporator.
Submarine Shower – A shower consisting of turning on the shower for a few seconds to wet down, turning off the shower to lather up and turning on the shower again for a few seconds to rinse off. Used to conserve water.
Sucking rubber – Wearing an EAB.
“Suffers from dietary indiscretion” – Describing an overweight sailor.
S.W.A.G. – Sonar Wild Ass Guess or Some Wild Ass Guess. See also EWAG.
Sweat pumps – When someone is worrying too much and they are always running at full speed. An excitable person, or one who takes humorous situations too seriously. “They’re sweat pumps are in high speed”.
System heavy – A submariner that is known for his extensive knowledge of certain submarine systems.
System light – A submariner that is known for his less than extensive knowledge of certain submarine systems. Often sought out by non-quals that are delinquent or trying to skate by.
Tacking on dolphins – Extinct tradition of punching a newly qualified submariner’s dolphin’s onto their chest. Unfortunately, some got carried away and punch too hard causing injury and making the act a hazing incident. Tacking on dolphins is considered taboo in today’s submarine force.
“Take her down, take her deep, damn the pressure, damn the heat, make your depth 500ft!” – Unauthorized poetic command to submerge the ship or change to a deeper depth.
“Take her up to broach depth” – Unauthorized phrase used for Diving Officers that have a reputation for broaching the submarine (breaking the surface of the ocean with the hull) thus exposing the boat to detection, or when the weather and sea state are extremely bad and broaching is expected.
“Taking a suction on the boat” – Used to describe what a FLOB is doing.
Target – Term to describe any ship or boat on the surface.
“Target a city, Aim for the county, Get the state” – Unofficial FTB motto referring to the targeting of nuclear weapons.
TDU it – Trash Disposal Unit. To throw something in the trash. All known as deep sixing in the surface Navy. Sometimes pronounced “tadooing it”.
Ten punches in the Hacker Card – A hacker card is for submariners who sit through extremely bad movies. The number of punches indicates how bad the movie was rated as.
“There’s air in the banks, shit in the tanks…don’t worry about the fire, the flooding will put it out” – Another abbreviated, humorous, unauthorized way of giving an off-going watch relief.
The Cup – See Lifer Cup.
“There ain’t no slack in a fast attack” – In reference to the heavy sea time schedule fast attack sailors keep, and their thought that they do the job better than everyone else.
“There is tit in the third reel” – Common phrase called out when breast are exposed in a movie. This usually results in numerous rewinds and replays.
The Skinny – The latest news or rumors. Also known as “hot cock or “scuttlebutt”.”
“This page intentionally left blank.” – Written into manual and log pages that were intentionally left blank, usually indicating the last page of a chapter or section.
Three phase flat cocks – Electricians
T.I. Mast – Telemetry Instrumentation Mast. Attached to S.S.B.N.s during missile testing. The T.I. mast sticks above the water line even while the submarine is submerged at launch depth so as to transmit/receive launch and range information. Tits Up – Broke-dick, inoperable, dead (from some piece of equipment being “flat on its back”). Sometimes referred to as “Tango Uniform”.
TLD – Thermo-Luminescent Dosimeter used to determine exposure to radiation.
Torpedoman’s Tweeker – A very large wrench.
“Train like you fight, fight like you train” – Most common submarine phrase found on a poster in just about any training building.
Trim Party – A prank often perpetrated on a newly-qualified Dive Officer or Chief of the Watch, where men and other weights are shifted fore and aft to affect the trim of the boat.
T.S.T.C. – Too Short To Care.
Turd Chaser – Slang term for an A-ganger, because they work on plumbing systems.
Turn to – Get started.
Tweeker – Electronics ratings; any engineering rating not turning a wrench. Rates such as ET, RM, FT and ST who “tweek” electronic components to make them work again. The term is also used to describe a very small screwdriver.
Tweener – Affectionate term for Missile Technicians on Ballistic Missile Submarines. Usually called out during the “Coner” and “Nuke” throwbacks, since the Missile Compartment is “between” the Forward (Coner) and Engineering (Nuke) spaces.
Twidget – Sailor in the Electronics or Electrical fields of job specialties.
Two fisted gagger – Used to describe an incredibly bad movie.
Typewriter repair man – Cryptological Technician, spook or special operations rider.
Ustafish – General term for a previous submarine command one has served in. Often used as “That’s not how we did it aboard the USTAFISH.” Generally followed by various short, forceful comments from others present.
Vent covers – Breaded veal cutlets.
Vitamin R – Ravioli.
Water slug – refers to shooting a submarine’s torpedo tube without first loading a torpedo. Often used as a joke to play on new non-quals. Shooting a water slug usually results in the shooter getting to clean out the torpedo tube. WESTPAC widow – Sailor’s wife looking for a temporary fling, often with another sailor. Also see “Boomer widow.” Could often be found in the Navy Club the very night the husband went to sea.
WETSU – We Eat This Shit Up. A derisive statement, usually regarding working or living conditions.
Wheel Book – A 6″ x 9″ spiral bound notepad used to take notes from Day 1 of joining the Navy.
“When I get home from patrol I take 99 pennies and throw them in the yard and tell the kids don’t come back till you find 100” – Phrase used by a submariner to indicate a way for him to have some alone time with the wife after returning from sea.
White Line Warranty – Something that is guaranteed to work up to the point of throwing off the mooring lines and getting underway.
“Won’t rust, bust, or take on dust” – An equipment or tool that is damn-near sailorproof.
“Works fine, fails safe, drains to the bilge” – A general phrase normally used when describing when a piece of equipment is repaired and put back in operation. Many variations exists.
Wrinkleneck trout – penis.
W.T.F.O. – What The Fuck, Over?
“You have a green card. You will be there.” One of the most hated phrases meaning that you have a Navy identification card, are the Navy’s property and you will be here no matter whether you had plans scheduled already.
“You have two hand and three holes. Cover the ones you don’t want hit first” – A term of endearment from a submariner to his wife/significant other immediately after returning from sea.
“You’re So Vain” – Song by Carly Simon reportedly used by a submarine commander on the underwater telephone after a skimmer had search for him in vain.
“You smell that boy? That’s amine, ain’t no smell in the world like it…. smells like… field day!” – Another phrase said by a salty old submariners to a non-qual to indicate how dedicated they are. A take off from the movie, Apocalypse Now, whereas Colonel Kurtz says, “You smell that? That’s napalm and there’s no smell like it in the world. It smells like…victory”. Zoomies – radiation.
Zulu 5 Oscar – Personnel making a deliberate attempt to board a ship unauthorized, usually at the direction of higher authority to test security procedures. The standard intruder drill.