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AB

Overview page. Subjects: Maritime History — Warfare and Defence.

The abbreviated title for the rating of able seaman, indicating someone able to perform all the duties of a seaman on board ship. In the days of sail it was someone who could hand, reef,...

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abaft

Overview page. Subjects: Warfare and Defence — Maritime History.

Towards the stern of a ship, relative to some other object or position. Abaft the beam is any bearing or direction between the beam of a ship and its stern. See also aft; but ‘abaft’ is...

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acting

Overview page. Subjects: Warfare and Defence — Maritime History.

A prefix used in most navies and merchant marine, and in similar services, to denote that a higher rank is being temporarily held. Payment is usually at the full rate for the acting rank or...

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active list

Overview page. Subjects: Warfare and Defence — Maritime History.

The list of officers of a navy or a merchant marine who, as in all similar services, are actually serving or are liable to be called upon for active service at any time. Officers on the...

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admiral

Overview page. Subjects: Maritime History — Warfare and Defence.

In all maritime nations the title of the commander of a fleet or of a subdivision of it. The word comes from the Arabic word amir, prince or leader, and in the Mediterranean, as early as...

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aft

Overview page. Subjects: Warfare and Defence — Maritime History.

At or towards the stern or after part of a ship, as a word describing either position or motion. A gun may be mounted aft (an expression of position), and seamen sent aft to man it (an...

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Alabama

Overview page. Subjects: Warfare and Defence — Maritime History.

A cruiser of the American Confederate States Navy built by the Laird Company of Birkenhead in 1862 under a contract with Commander James Bulloch of the Confederate Navy. She was a...

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alee

Overview page. Subjects: Warfare and Defence — Maritime History.

The position of the helm of a vessel when it has been pushed down to leeward. ‘Helm's a-lee’ is the response of the helmsman of a sailing vessel after putting the helm down on the order to...

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Alfred Thayer Mahan

Overview page. Subjects: Warfare and Defence — Maritime History.

(1840–1914),

US naval officer and strategist, born at West Point. He graduated from the Naval Academy at Annapolis in 1859, and during the American Civil War (1861–5) served in...

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all hands

Overview page. Subjects: Maritime History — Warfare and Defence.

An order on board ship for the seamen of every watch to muster on deck immediately. It is an order usually given either in an emergency or for performing an evolution requiring the use of...

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alow

Overview page. Subjects: Maritime History — Warfare and Defence.

The opposite to aloft, meaning on or near the deck of a ship. When a sailing vessel was said to be carrying all sail alow and aloft, it had all its sails, including studding sails, set and...

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amidships

Overview page. Subjects: Warfare and Defence — Maritime History.

In the middle of the ship, whether longitudinally or laterally. It is more usually known as a helm order, normally shortened to ‘midships’, to centre the helm in line with the keel.

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anchor watch

Overview page. Subjects: Maritime History — Warfare and Defence.

A precaution taken on board ship when lying to an anchor in bad weather with a danger of dragging. The watch normally consists of an officer who takes frequent compass bearings of objects...

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ASDIC

Overview page. Subjects: Warfare and Defence — Maritime History.

The original name for the underwater sound-ranging apparatus for determining the range and bearing of a submerged submarine. The name was derived from the initial letters of the Allied...

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astern

Overview page. Subjects: Warfare and Defence — Maritime History.

Backwards, behind. It is a word employed in two senses in maritime use. (1) In movement, that of a ship going backwards. (2) In direction, directly behind a ship. As an order given to the...

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automatic pilot

Overview page. Subjects: Maritime History — Warfare and Defence.

A device fitted to ships by which they are held on any desired course without the need of anyone on the steering wheel. Any variation from the set course automatically supplies power to the...

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aweigh

Overview page. Subjects: Maritime History — Warfare and Defence.

The situation of the anchor at the moment it is broken out of the ground when being weighed. When the anchor is a-weigh the ship is no longer secured to the ground and will drift unless...

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ballast

Overview page. Subjects: Maritime History — Warfare and Defence.

Additional weight carried in a ship to give it stability and/or to provide a satisfactory trim. Nowadays this is done by pumping water in or out of trimming tanks, but in the past ballast...

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barbette

Overview page. Subjects: Warfare and Defence — Maritime History.

The inside fixed trunk of a gun mounting in a warship on which the turret revolved. It contained the shell and cordite hoists from the shell-room and magazine. It was originally the name...

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bathyscaphe

Overview page. Subjects: Warfare and Defence — Maritime History.

A small free-moving underwater vehicle designed by the Swiss-born professor Auguste Piccard (1884–1962), for exploring the ocean depths. His first two were balloon shaped and in the second...

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