I basic list od Submarine Slang either taken from Jack Speak or known to me.

S/M Slang
Most thanks to ‘Jackspeak’ By Rick Jolly

Angles and Dangles: High speed alterations of depth using large angles of trim

Back Afty: ERA who works in rear compartments, nuclear or diesel
Bandstand Waist high rail on Nuclear Boats to allow the Officer of the
Watch to keep his balance
Bird Bath Canvas bath rigged under ‘Elephants Trunk’ to catch
incoming seawater in exceptionally rough weather
Black Lighting Minimal red lighting in the Control Room while at periscope
depth when surface light is low or night-time
Black Watch Ratings left inboard for official reasons while the boat goes
to sea.
Blockhouse HMS Dolphin; aka ‘Fort Blockhouse’
Blow Any process of displacing water/waste from a tank with
compressed air “Blow Q†empty the Q Tank of water
Boat Any submarine
Bomb shop Weapon storage compartment
Bomber Polaris/Trident Submarine
Bomber Queen Name for any member of a Polaris/Trident Boat used by diesel
boat’s crews
Bongles & Dongles Noise generating devices to allow boats to locate SBS Marines
Bubble The bubble in a spirit level clinometer used by the planesman
to keep the boat level. “Lose the bubble†to have lost control

Clockwork Mouse Boat engaged on training surface ships in A/S warfare
Coffin Dreams Nightmares on long dived patrols
Conning Tower Boats bridge area (see Fin)
Conventional Diesel/Electric boat
Crash Dive Rapid or emergency dive
Crumb Brusher Officers Steward

Deeps Nickname for any submariner whose name is not known
Diving Stations Boats crew take up these stations prior to diving or whilst
‘Crash diving’
Dolphins Gilt uniform brooch of two dolphins awarded to qualified
Dolphin Code Numbers group which matches a corresponding message
Donk shop Engine room
Downstairs Trot Sentry posted inside a boat when alongside

Elephants Trunk Canvas shute rigged around conning tower ladder to collect
In coming seawater in rough weather (see bird bath)

Familygram Forty word message received weekly? by Polaris/Trident
whilst on patrol
Fast Cruise Shut the hatches and conduct emergency exercises whilst
alongside the jetty
Fin The structure which carries the bridge and covers the masts
on streamlined boats.
Fire, Flood & Famine Disaster control exercises during work-up period
Fish Torpedo
Flash Back The contents of the sewage chamber/tank blown back at
the person trying to discharge the same outboard
Flood ‘Q’ Flood 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
Fore-endy Sailors who works in the torpedo space forward. Torpedo
& Anti Submarine (Weapons) ratings.

Grey Targets Surface warships ( see Skimmers)
Group Up To configurate a conventional boats electrical motors for high
speed running when dived.

Hoolie Bar Basement, 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 Bunking Sharing 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.

Inside Wrecker Any chef


Lid Conning tower hatch, upper lid and lower lid. When diving this
should be heard reported. “Upper lid shut, two clips, two pinsâ€


On the step Nuclear boat at speed on the surface, riding its own bow wave
One All Round Order given to allow the Control Room staff to smoke one
cigarette when dived. OR. The captain indicating a 360 degree
periscope sweep during an attack
One Man Band Combined steering and planes with automatic depth and
course keeping facility, together with all the instruments, built
into one unit
Open up Open upper hatch (lid) after surfacing
Outside Wrecker Engine Room Artificer responsible for mechanical items
outside the pressure hull. Also the panel watch-keeper at
Diving Stations

Part Three Un-qualified submariner. Still to pass the seagoing part of
submarine training. Compulsory for all ranks and rates.
Peep Stick Periscope
Perishers Submarine Captains Qualifying Course
Pirate Rig Seagoing wear for conventional boat crews i.e. anything but
naval issued uniform.


Rocket Shop Missile compartment onboard Polaris/Trident boats
Roof The sea’s surface

Scratcher Seaman Petty Officer or Leading Hand in charge of the casing,
mooring ropes, anchor and gear etc.
Sherwood Forest Missile compartment onboard Polaris/Trident boats
Silent Routine Reduce all noise to a minimum, retire to your bunk if you are
not gainfully employed
Skimmer Any person who serves in Surface ships or a surface vessel
Sneaky Classified covert intelligence gathering patrol
Snorting Running diesel engines when dived, drawing air down a
snort induction mast

Tank Submarine escape training tank at HMS Dolphin
Target Any other vessel at sea
Teacher Officer in Command Submarine Captains Qualifying Course
Tower Access to conning tower/fin with upper and lower hatches
The Trade The Submarine Service
Trim State of buoyancy and angle of a boat. To be in neutral
buoyancy and horizontal is the desired result i.e. ‘to catch
a trim’
Trot Boats moored together

Upper Trot Casing and gangway sentry
Upstairs The sea’s surface


Nutty feel free to add any I have missed

PS I once wrote these out for an American Submariner so he could follow the Barrow site.


War Hero
Book Reviewer
I have put up on RRPedia a list of slang I wrote while VV bored in hospital in 1976. It relates to the period 1955-68 (when I gave my last wheel order)& therefore doesn't pick up on a whole raft of stuff that seems to have crept in since such as:

Bomber Queen
Bridge Chimp
Going ashore 'in rig'
Missile Mary
XO (American, UGH!) for Jimmy

and a lot of other submariner items - the Trade always seemed to be a private navy of its own; usually the only reminder of its existence was a green grenade.

As anyone can scribble on wiki, PLEASE feel free to add more items or additional explanations - but PLEASE don't edit out the old ones!

and SORRY about the spacing and also some odd 'boxes' that have crept in because wiki seems to interpret 'normal' punctuation and tabs in its own way.


Lantern Swinger
ok another query .. but to do with etymology this time

Pongo aka our lovely friends in the Army, the reason given by most people I have come across for the nick is that its based on "Where the army goes the pong goes".

However after a bored afternoon at work (being a flood defence officer in a miraculously dry county) I tripped over this Wikipedia article: and was wandering whether the original pongo reference was meant more Napoleonic and that the Army was considered a bunch of red coated monkeys ?

This ain't supposed to sound a waltish question, but the first explanation sounds a little too glib to me.
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