Navy Dads

Navy Terms and Definitions


Navy Terms and Definitions

What does all this Navy talk mean? Your sailor will say things that make no sense, ask and we will explain.

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Comment by AWV Mom Suzi on April 20, 2011 at 7:48pm

Yes, Fleet Replacement Air Crew.....but one son (RSS) told his mom he is going to FRS and that there is no FRAC. I've been researching since my son told us about his choice. I like being able to hold a conversation with my son about his job. What I did find was a conversation on another website that said Aircrew are no longer getting winged after FRS, but have to wait until after FRAC.

So, do some only do FRS or FRAC? Or, do all do both.

Son is AWV if it makes any difference. He'll grad SERE this Fri and then on to Tinker AFB. Curious why I don't find much info about AWV other than the normal description. I've also not run into many parents or spouses of AWV.  Thanks for you input!

Comment by AWV Mom Suzi on April 20, 2011 at 5:22pm

Hello to all you seasoned people here.

I was wondering if someone could explain the difference between FRS and there one? A couple of us Moms are trying to figure out some things.


Comment by Otto Mueller on August 7, 2010 at 2:52pm
aaahh, not to worry for me, I don't fit through the little round windows on the side anymore, alas....
Comment by NavyDads Admin (Paul) on August 7, 2010 at 12:17am
memory aid I learned when I was about 12 at a summer camp: when the sherry is gone the port is left.....
Comment by David Wells on August 7, 2010 at 12:10am
The term starboard, the nautical term for the right-hand half of the ship, comes from Old English stéorbord and is a combination of stéor, meaning "steer," and bord , meaning "board." On old ships the rudder or steering paddle would be on the right side of the ship. Hence, the term starboard.


The counterpart to starboard is larboard, which derives from ladde and bord. American Heritage has ladde as the past participle of the verb "to lead." The left side of the ship would be led by the right, where the rudder was. Most other sources derive it from laden , meaning "to load." The left-hand side being the side put to the dock for loading cargo. The Old English Dictionary Volume 2, says the origin is undetermined.

Well you can probably guess the similarity in sound of the two names caused a great number of communications problems. "Ensign, was that lookout on the mizzen mast reporting a whale off the starboard bow or larboard bow, this wind makes it hard to tell. Lets turn to larboard and see if we can find anything." A different word was required. The term port for the left-hand side of a ship dates to the 16th century, but it was not until the 1840s that both the Royal and US Navies officially abandoned the term larboard in favor of port.


Why port was used for this is not known for certain, but most sources believe it is because the left-hand side of a ship was the side typically put next to the wharf or port. Especially if your rudder was on the starboard side, this would be the case.
Comment by David Wells on August 5, 2010 at 5:40pm
The distress call for voice radio, for vessels and people in serious trouble at sea. The term was made official by an international telecommunications conference in 1948, and is an anglicizing of the French "m'aidez," (help me).
Comment by David Wells on August 5, 2010 at 5:39pm
Gedunk (or Geedunk) refers to ice cream, candy, potato chips, and other snack foods, as well as to the place on a ship where these items are sold. The first known published usage of the term "gedunk" in a non-naval context is in a 1927 comic strip which refers to "gedunk [ice cream] sundaes." In 1931 it was mentioned in Leatherneck magazine; subsequent early naval usage incluses Robert Joseph Casey's Torpedo Junction: With the Pacific Fleet from Pearl Harbor to Midway (published in 1943); and Robert Olds' Helldiver Squadron: The Story of Carrier Bombing Squadron 17 with Task Force 58 (published in 1944).

Usage of the pejorative term "gedunk sailor" to refer to an inexperience sailor apparently dates to 1941, and is mentioned in Theodore C. Mason's Battleship Sailor, published in 1982.

The origin of the word gedunk is uncertain, though it has been suggested it derives from a Chinese word referring to a place of idleness, or a German word meaning to dunk bread in gravy or coffee.

Ice-maker and refrigerated compartments were first introduced on some U.S. Navy ships in 1893, and an ice-cream maker is reported on board USS Missouri (Battleship No. 11, later BB-11) as early as 1906.
Comment by David Wells on August 5, 2010 at 5:28pm
DITCHING. How the word meaning a 'ditch' (trench as an excavation) came to mean 'forced landing by aircraft on water at sea'?
During WWII British and American aircraft returning from missions in Germany had to fly over the English Channel. In the sailors' lingo the word 'channel' has a familiar synonym; 'ditch'. Hence, the English Channel was called the 'Ditch'. Naturally aircraft made emergency landings in the Ditch. They were 'ditched'. Now the word 'ditch' means 'to land planes in emergency on the sea anywhere' (for example, such terms as 'ditching exercise', 'ditching drill', etc.).
Comment by David Wells on July 31, 2010 at 8:49pm
Taken Aback
One of the hazards faced in days of sailing ships has been incorporated into English to describe someone who has been jolted by unpleasant news. We say that person has been "taken aback." The person is at a momentary loss; unable to act or even to speak. A danger faced by sailing ships was for a sudden shift in wind to come up (from a sudden squall), blowing the sails back against the masts, putting the ship in grave danger of having the masts break off and rendering the ship totally helpless. The ship was taken aback.
Comment by David Wells on July 31, 2010 at 8:48pm
'Hit the Head' - The origin of hit the head can be traced back to ancient sailing vessels. Sailors who needed to relieve themselves would make their way to a designated area under the deck near the bow or front of the ship. This area was selected for several reasons. First of all, the odors would be dissipated into the air before reaching the main living and work areas. Secondly, the constant spray of ocean water would act as a natural sanitizer and keep the area relatively clean.

Since this area was also close to the carved figurehead on the bow, it became known informally as the head. The term stuck even as shipbuilders incorporated indoor plumbing and other modern conveniences to military ships. Generations of sailors have since adopted the phrase hit the head as a euphemism, and eventually the term became part of popular culture as these men and women assimilated back into society.

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