Home - Dits & Bits - Jackspeak


The British Navy has a language all of its own which reflects both its long history and also the culture (good and bad) of the service, this is 'Jackspeak'. Within the Royal Navy the submariners remain a somewhat separate and close-knit bunch with their own unique Jackspeak which this page sets out to record.

Please be aware that we make no distinction between what is historical slang and what may be commonly used language in todays Royal Navy Submarine Service. Some of the entries in this database would not be tollerated in todays navy as they should not be tollerated in society as a whole. The Royal Navy is committed to seeking people of all races and backgrounds to recruit and some of the entries in this listing may be offensive to the reader and/or discouraging to those potential recruits.

Whilst I have edited the offensive words, the keywords are still implied and if you feel you may be offend please navigate to another page or just click here

I considered removing the entries from the database but decided to keep them for reason of historical accuracy and interrest. If we delete the lessons that history has taught us, we risk repeating the errrors of our ways. The offending entries have also appeared in books which have sold thousands of copies, please be aware and prepared for this if researching further.

ABAble Seaman
AckersAny foreign currency
Adam & Eve on a Raft2 Eggs on Toast (Fried Bread)
After-endieSomeone who works back aft
AfterendsBack end of a boat
AMPAssisted Maintenance Period
Angles and DanglesHigh speed alterations of depth using large angles of trim
Arrigonies (Arries)Tinned Tomatoes   Recipes
ASWAnti-Submarine Warfare
Babies HeadsSteak and kidney in a pastry cover with tinned potatoes.   Babies Heads
Back AftyERA who works in rear compartments, nuclear or diesel
BandstandWaist high rail on nuclear boats to allow the officer of the watch to keep his balance
BattBattery (or Bt)
Battle ShortThe Captains has disabled the various devices that can trigger a SCRAM in case of a fault . The Captain has decided it is more important to keep the propulsion going and risk any damage to the reactor.
Bear PitBilge area at the after end of a diesel boats engine room
Bin BagSee Back Afty
Bird Bath1. Canvas bath rigged under the 'Elephants Trunk' to catch incoming seawater in exceptionally rough weather

2. An all over wash from a sink full of water
Bish, TheThe Pardre
BitsBeans in tomato sauce (see Tits & Hits)   Recipes
Black Hand GangAny rateing who's job deals with oil
Black LightingMinimal red lighting in the Control Room while at periscope depth when surface light is low or night-time
Black Watch Ships company that always went to sea with the boat. (See Fifth Watch)
BlockhouseHMS Dolphin; aka Fort Blockhouse   Dolphin
BlowAny process of displacing water/waste from a tank with compressed air "Blow Q" empty the Q Tank of water.
BoatAny submarine
Bomb ShopWeapon storage compartment
BomberPolaris/Trident Submarine
Bomber QueenName for any member of a Polaris/Trident Boat
Bongles & DonglesNoise generating devices to allow boats to locate SBS Marines
BootneckRoyal Marine (See Royal)
BubbleThe bubble in a spirit level clinometer used by the planesman to keep the boat level (see Lose the bubble)
Bubble In The WoodThe bubble in the inclinometer has gone to one end or the other meaning the boat has taken a sharp up or down movement to rise or dive. Usually means the after planesmen has 'lost it' to due lack of concentration
Bunting TosserSignaller
BZBravo Zulu - well done   The Dolphin Code
Cabbage MechanicA chief trying to sound upmarket
Cabbage PatchArea port after corner of the forends where vegetables were stored
CackleberryBoiled Egg   Recipes
CASDContinuous at sea deterrent
CBUCore Burn Up
CEAChief Electrical Artificer
CERAChief Engine Room Artificer
Chicken On A RaftEgg on toast   Recipes
Chinese Wedding CakeRice pudding   Chinese Wedding Cake
Clockwork MouseBoat engaged on training surface ships in A/S warfare
COCommanding Officer
Coffin DreamsNightmares on long dived patrols
Conning TowerBoats bridge area (see Fin)
ConventionalDiesel/Electric boat
CPOChief Petty Officer
Crash DiveRapid or emergency dive
Crumb BrusherOfficers Steward
CrusherRoyal Navy Policeman
CSSTCommander Submarine Sea Training
DCMDistinguished Conduct Medal
DeepsNickname for any submariner whose name is not known
DFGDeep, Fast, Green. Forward staff watch handover when all is well
Dhoby DustWashing Powder
Diving StationsBoats crew take up these stations prior to diving or whilst 'Crash diving'
Dog S**t CityGosport Town
Dog Watch1. Two hour watches to equalise the roster
2. A derogatory term for short length of service
Dogs, TheWatches between 1600 and 2000. First dog. last dog.
Dolphin CodeNumbers group which matches a corresponding message   The Dolphin Code
DolphinsGilt uniform brooch of two dolphins awarded to qualified Submariners
DonkshopEngine room
Donkshop HorseEngine room articifer
Downstairs TrotSentry posted inside a boat when alongside.
DSCDistinguished Service Cross
DSMDistinguished Service Medal
DSODistinguished Service Order
Ducks Ar*eStern section of an O boat
Dung HampersShorts as worn by matelots in tropical uniform
EAElectrical Artificer
EA of the BoatSenior Electrical Rating
Elephants FootprintsSpam Fritters   Elephant's Footprints
Elephants TrunkCanvas chute rigged around conning tower ladder to collect incoming seawater in rough weather (see Bird Bath)
EMElectrical Mechanician
Emergency BlowSets the nuclear submarine on a fast ascent to the surface.
ERAEngine Room Artificer (5 classes, eg: ERA1)
FaslavatoryFaslane, Clyde Submarine Base
Fast CruiseShut the hatches and conduct emergency exercises whilst alongside the jetty
Fifth HandYoung officer under training
Fifth WatchRatings left inboard for official reasons while the boat goes to sea. (see Black Watch)
Fighting IronsKnife & Fork etc
FinThe structure which carries the bridge and covers the masts on streamlined boats.
Fire, Flood & FamineDisaster control exercises during work-up period
Flash BackThe contents of the sewage chamber/tank blown back at the person trying to discharge the same outboard
Flood QFlood the Q tank set in the bows to rapidly increase the speed of the dive. Used especially in emergencies. Adds fifty tons of water to the bows of the boat
Fog LockerJackson boiler kept boiling for hot drinks
Foo FooTalcum powder
Fore-endySailors who work in the torpedo space forward. Torpedo & Anti Submarine (Weapons) ratings.
FOSMFlag-Officer, Submarines
Front C**tAnyone who is not from Back Aft, i.e. does not have a watchkeeping position in the Engine room.
GeorgeAuto helm. Preceded One Man Band.
Glamour SpannerHair Comb
GoatshedSleeping accomodation for the 3 Senior Chiefs on O boats. CERA, Coxn and EA of the boat. Doubles as Coxn's office.
Gob StickMicrophone
Goffers1 A huge wave coming over the fin
2 Cola
Grey TargetsSurface warships (see Skimmer)
GrocerThe Coxswain
Group UpTo configurate a conventional boats electrical motors for high speed running when dived.
GulpersA gulp of rum.
Harbour CottersBreaded/Battered Fish   Recipes
HeadsToilet Compartment or WC
HitsHerrings in tomato sauce (see Bits & Tits)   Recipes
Hoolie BarBasement, NAAFI, drinking establishment, provided for crews off returning boats at Faslane Submarine Base to let off steam. Few rules, if any applied in the bar.
Hot BunkingSharing bunks when crew, trainees or other passengers in excess of the amount of bunks available are carried. When you come off watch you get into a warm bunk.
InboardOnboard the depot ship   Depot Ships
Inside WreckerAny chief
JackspeakNaval slang or acronym
JimmyThe First Lieutenant, the second in command responsible to the Captain for the general well being of the submarine. Responsible (assisted by the Chief Stoker) for calculating and setting the trim before diving. Particularly after being in harbour with fresh fuel, water, torpedos, ammunition and stores etc taken aboard. In the USN known as the Executive Officer.
Jock RoastMinced Beef   Recipes
Kingston ValvesHand operated shut off valves in the bottom of certain main ballast tanks to allow them to used for extra fuel storage. Also hydraulically operated fitted in the 'Q' tank.
KyeHot Cocoa Drink   Kye
LidConning tower hatch, upper lid and lower lid. When diving this should be heard reported. "Upper lid shut, two clips, two pins"
LingoLocal language
Lose the bubbleTo lose control (see Bubble)
LSLeading Seaman
Lt CdrLieutenant Commander
LWEMLeading Weapons Engineering Mechanic
MatelotA Sailor
MCMilitary Cross
MCPMain Coolant Pump
MEOMarine Engineering Officer
MIDMentioned In Dispatches
MMMilitary Medal
MrsIndividual tinned steam puddings each one a different flavoured
MSMMeritorious Service Medal
Mystery TripClassified covert intelligence gathering patrol
N***ers DickBlack Pudding   Recipes
Nail BenderAn ordnance artificer
NBCNaval Base Commander
NeatersUndiluted pusser's rum
Nellies welliesSee Elephants Footprints   Elephant's Footprints
Nelson's BloodPussers Rum
Ni**ers In The SnowRice pudding with raisins, sultanas etc   Recipes
Nine OLast meal of the day (diesel boats)
NormanChicken. Can be 'negative burberry' (no skin)   Recipes
NSRPNuclear Steam Raising Plant
ODOrdinary Seaman or idiot (big OD)
On the stepNuclear boat at speed on the surface, riding its own bow wave
One All Round1. Order given to allow the Control Room staff to smoke one cigarette when dived.
2. The captain indicating a 360 degree periscope sweep during an attack
One Man BandCombined steering and planes with automatic depth and course keeping facility, together with all the instruments, built into one unit
Open upOpen upper hatch (lid) after surfacing
OppoMate or buddy
ORDOrdinary Seaman
Outside WreckerEngine Room Artificer responsible for mechanical items outside the Engine Room. Also the panel watch-keeper at Diving Stations
Part ThreeUnqualified submariner. Still to pass the seagoing part of submarine training. Compulsory for all ranks and rates.
Passage RoutineSubmarine running on the surface, shut off from diving.
Patrol routineBoat on surface opened up for diving
Peep StickPeriscope
Periscope CheeseLarge tin of processed cheese
PerishersSubmarine Captains Qualifying Course (see Teacher)
Peter the EaterFood Waste Disposal Unit
PigRoyal Naval officer
Pigs EarTundish
PinkyRadio Maintainer
Pirate RigSeagoing wear for conventional boat crews i.e. anything but naval issued uniform.
POPetty Officer
PoltoPetty Officer Electrican
PolycellNickname given to the sonar maintainer on P&O boats. Circa 1980s
PusserThe Royal navy
Q TankA quick diving tank, fitted with hydraulically operated air vent and sea flooding valves.
R MechRadio Maintainer usually a Chief (Mechanician or Tiff)
RackA bunk
RCNRoyal Canadian Navy
RE of the BoatElectronics maintainer non sonar/weapons
REARadio Maintainer usually a Chief (Mechanician or Tiff)
RNRoyal Navy
RNRRoyal Naval Reserve
RNVRRoyal Naval Volunteer Reserve
Rocket ShopMissile compartment onboard Polaris/Trident boats
RoofThe seas surface
RoughersStormy seas
RoundaboutSeat attached to after (search) periscope that can be latched in or out enabling the periscope to rotate by the means of an electric motor. This enables the OOW of a dived boat to maintain a continous lookout.
RoyalRoyal Marine (See Bootneck)
Running Opened UpRunning diesel engines with the conning tower upper & lower lids open
SCOOWShip Control Officer Of the Watch
ScramLower the rods quickly to shut down the nuclear submarine reactor.

ScratcherSeaman Petty Officer or Leading Hand in charge of the casing, mooring ropes, anchor and gear etc
Scratchers DickieA Leading Hand, the Second Coxswains No.2
Sh*t On A RaftDevilled kidneys   S**t On A Raft
Sh*t ShotFinished blowing sewage tanks
Sheds, TheArea of very old accommodation in Blockhouse.   Dolphin
ShelfA bunk
Sherwood ForestMissile compartment onboard Polaris/Trident boats
Shoot (Shooting) Sh*tBlow (blowing) Sewage Tanks at periscope depth
Silent RoutineReduce all noise to a minimum, retire to your bunk if you are not gainfully employed
SippersA sip of rum
SkimmerA surface ship or any person who serves in surface ships
SlideButter or Margarine   Recipes
SM1First Submarine Squadron, based at HMS Dolphin   Dolphin
SM10Tenth Submarine Squadron based in Faslane
SM2Second Submarine Squadron, based in Plymouth
SM3Third Submarine Squadron based in Faslane
Snake PitBilge area at the forward end of a diesel boats engine room
SneakyClassified covert intelligence gathering patrol
SneezePepper   Recipes
SnortingRunning diesel engines when dived, drawing air down a snort induction mast
Sonar BenderSonar maintainer
Spinning a DitTelling a story
Spithead PheasantWardroom slang for kippers
SPOPetty Officer MEM
SPOStoker Petty Officer
SundodgerSkimmers name for a Submariner
Sunshine SquadronAny sub squadron not based in Scotland
Taking a DipOn watch greenie checking the state of the battery charge (using hydrometer)
Tank, TheSubmarine escape training tank at HMS Dolphin   Escape
TankyCoxswain's store keeper. On some boats doubled up as the senior rates messman.
TargetAny other vessel at sea.

"There are only two types of vessel. Submarines and Targets"
TASTorpedo and Anti Submarine Branch
TASITorpedo and Anti Submarine Instructor
TeacherOfficer in Command Submarine Captains Qualifying Course (see Perishers)
TelTelegraphist    Extracts from The Diary of Telegraphist
Texas StrawberriesBaked Beans   Recipes
TitsTomatoes in tomato sauce (see Bits & Hits)   Recipes
TowerAccess to conning tower/fin with upper and lower hatches
TownieSomeone from the same town (or city/village etc)
Trade, TheThe Submarine Service
TrapsHeads: i.e. Trap 1, 2 or 3, The three heads at the aft end of an O boats Control Room
TrimState of buoyancy and angle of a boat. To be in neutral buoyancy and horizontal is the desired result i.e. to catch a trim
TrotBoats moored together
Trot SentryRating stationed on casing as gangway sentry
UCUnderwater Controller or Sonar Operator, formerly of the TAS branch
Under Wonder GunSubmerged signal ejector
Upper TrotCasing and gangway sentry
UpstairsThe seas surface
VCVictoria Cross   VC Winners
W*nk ChariotBed/Rack
WAFUWet And F'ing Useless - Fleet Air Arm branch
WardroomOfficers mess
WEOWeapons Engineer Officer
WetA drink
WT ShackCommunications Compartment
WTOWeapons Training Officer
Yellow perilSmoked haddock   Recipes

BR 3043Recipes