Modern Mariner Glossary

Compiled by: Martin Leduc

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Other maritime glossaries - classic sea terms - shipping terms - legal


Abaft: On the after side of. Further towards the stern.
Aboard: On board. In, into or inside a vessel. Close alongside.
Abyss: That volume of ocean lying below 300 fathoms from surface.
Accommodation Unit/Floatel - normally a semisubmersible or jackup (See Jackup), equipped with cabins, catering facilities and office space for up to 800 persons. The installation is normally used for the accommodation and catering for personell constructing or operating a fixed production platform. An accommodation unit may also be equipped with workshops and/or storage facilities.
Adrift: Unattached to the shore or ground and at the mercy of wind and tide. Colloquially used to mean missing from its place; absent from place of duty; broken away from fastening.
Aframax: An oil tanker of 75,000-115,000dwt. Certain external statistical compilations define an "Aframax Tanker" slightly differently, some going as high as 125,00 dwt and others as low as 70,000 dwt. External data used in this prospectus has been adjusted so that the definition of "Aframax Tanker" is consistent throughout.
Against the Sun: Anti-clockwise circular motion. Left-handed ropes are coiled down in this way.
Alongside: Close beside a ship, wharf or jetty.
Altar: Step in a dry dock, on which lower ends of shores rest.
Amok: Homicidal frenzy that sometimes affects Malayans and other eastern peoples.
Anchorhandling Tug - AHT - ship carrying out tasks such as the placing or moving of anchors, as well as towing drilling installations and barges etc. May double as a supply vessel and is in such cases termed Anchorhandling Tug/Supply (AHTS).
Anchor Ice: Ice, of any form, that is aground in the sea.
ANNUAL SURVEY: An annual inspection of a vessel by a classification society surveyor to ensure that the vessel meets the standards of that society.
Apeak: Said of anchor when cable is taut and vertical.
A-stay: Said of anchor cable when its line of lead approximates a continuation of line of fore stay.
Athwart: Across. Transversely.
A-trip: Said of anchor immediately it is broken out of the ground.
Avast: Order to stop, or desist from, an action.
Awash: Water washing over.

ABS - American Bureau of Shipping - American classification society.
ACOT - Advisory Committee on Offshore Technology
ACP - Area Contingency Plan
ACV - Australian Customs Vessel
ADB - African/Asian Development Bank
AFRA - Average Freight Rate Assessment - average costs for the freight of oil with tankships. Calculated by the Worldscale Association in London. based on an ongoing registration of all freightrates at particular points in time.
AHT - Anchorhandling Tug - vessel employed in the offshore field moving anchors and performing towing operations.
AHTS - AHT which is also a combined supplyvessel.
AID - Agency for International Development - US organization for civilian aid programmes.
AIMS - American Institute of Merchant Shipping - the American shipowners' association for the major part of the privately owned tonnage.
ALAMAP - Associac¢n Latinamericano de Armadores - Latin-American Shipowners' Association (established in March 1963).
ALU-TUCP - Philippine Seafarers' Union, member of TUCP (Trade Union Council of the Philippines).
AMOSUP - Associated Marine Officers' and Seamen's Union of the Philippines - Filipino union for officers and crew.
AMVER - Automatic Mutual-Assistance Vessel Rescue System - American warning system for international shipping.
ASEAN - Association of South East Asian Nations - Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore.
ASF - Asian Shipowners' Forum - shipowners' association for East Asia and Oceania.
ASO - Arbeidsgiverforeningen for Skip og Offshorefartoyer - The Employers' Organization for Ships and Offshore Installations (Oslo)
ARBV - Venezuelan Navy Ship
ARC - Colombian Navy Ship
ARM - Mexican Navy Ship
AWES - Association of Western European Shipbuilders



Ballast: A vessel is in ballast when it is steaming without cargo, and is instead loaded down with sea water for stability. Given that oil production is concentrated in certain parts of the world, a vessel will generally spend a significant amount of time "ballasting" as it returns from discharge port to load port.
Bareboat Charter: The leasing of an empty ship for a specified period of time for a specific fee in this arrangement, the ship owner virtually relinquishes all rights and responsibilities in respect of the vessel and the charterer becomes the de facto ("disponent") owner for this period. The charterer is generally responsible for all operating expenses including crewing and insurance.
Barque: Sailing vessel with three or more masts: fore and aft rigged on aftermast, square rigged on all others.
Barquentine: Sailing vessel with three or more masts. Square rigged on foremast, fore and aft rigged on all others.
Barratry: Any wrongful act knowingly done by the master or crew of a vessel to the detriment of the owner of either ship or cargo; and which was done without knowledge or consent of owner or owners.
Bar Taut: Said of a rope when it is under such tension that it is practically rigid.
Beams Ends: Vessel said to be "on her beam ends" when she is lying over so much that her deck beams are nearly vertical.
Bear Off: To thrust away; to hold off. Order given to bowman of boat when he is required to push boat's head away from jetty, gangway or other fixture at which boat is alongside. Order given, also, when it is required to thrust away, or hold off, an approaching object.
Before the Mast: Said of a man who goes to sea as a rating, and lives forward. Forward of a mast.
Belay: To make fast a rope by turning up with it around a cleat, belaying pin, bollard, etc. Often used by seamen in the sense of arresting, stopping or canceling; e.g. "Belay the last order'.
Bergy Bits: Pieces of ice, about the size of a small house, that have broken off a glacier, or from hummocky ice.
Berth: Place in which a vessel is moored or secured. Space around a vessel at anchor, and in which she will swing. An allotted accommodation in a ship. Employment aboard a ship. To berth a vessel is to place he in a desired or required position.
Beset: Said of a vessel when she is entirely surrounded by ice.
Bleed the Monkey: Surreptitiously to remove spirit from a keg or cask by making a small hole and sucking through a straw.
Boat: Small craft not normally suitable for sea passages but useful in sheltered waters and for short passages.
Bone: Foam at stem of a vessel underway. When this is unusually noticeable she is said to "have a bone in her teeth".
Booby Hatch: Sliding cover that has to be pushed away to allow passage to or from a store room, cabin of small craft, or crew's quarters.
Bound: Proceeding in a specified direction, or to a specified place.
Bouse: To heave, or haul, downwards on a rope. Originally, and strictly, heave meant an upward pull, haul meant a horizontal pull, bouse meant a downward pull: but these distinctions have not survived.
Bowse: To pull downward on a rope or fall.
Brash: Ice broken into pieces, about 6 ft. in diameter and projecting very little above sea level.
Breach: Said of waves that break over a vessel.
Breast: Mooring line leading approximately perpendicular to ship's fore and aft line.
Breast Rope: Mooring rope, leading from bow or quarter, at about right angles to ship's fore and aft line.
Brig: Vessel with two masts and square rigged on both of them.
Brigantine: Originally, a ship of brigands, or pirates. Up to end of 19th century was a two-masted vessel square rigged on fore-mast and main topmast, but with fore and aft mainsail. Latterly, a two-masted vessel with foremast square rigged, and mainmast fore and aft rigged.
Brow: Substantial gangway used to connect ship with shore when in a dock or alongside a wharf.
Bucko: A bullying and tyrannical officer.
Bulkhead: Transverse, or fore and aft, vertical partition in a vessel to divide interior into compartments. Not necessarily water-tight. Increases rigidity of structure, localizes effects of fire and, when watertight, localizes inflow of water.
Bulk Carrier: A ship with single deck designed to carry homogenous loose cargo
Bulk-oil carrier - multipurpose vessel built to carry cargoes of coal as well as oil. Most bulk-oil carriers are reinforced to carry ores and are called OBO-ship (ore/bulk/oil).
Bunker: Fuel oil used to operate a vessel’s engines and generators.
Buoyage: The act of placing buoys. 2. Establishment of buoys and buoyage systems. Applied collectively to buoys placed or established.
Burgoo: Seaman's name for oatmeal porridge. First mentioned in Edward Coxere's Adventures by Sea" (1656)
By the Board: Overboard and by the ship's side.

BAE - Ecuadorian Navy Ship
BAP - Peruvian Navy Ship
BEI - Banque Europeenne d'Investissement - The European Investment Bank.
BFI - Baltic Freight Index - an index for bulk freight rates.
BIAC - Business and Industry Advisory Committee - OECD's advisory committee. Opposite to TUAC.
BICC - Bureau International des Chambres de Commerce - International information bureau for Chambers of Commerce.
BIFA - British International Freight Association
BIFFEX - Baltic International Freight Futures Exchange (London) - an exchange for the buying and selling of futures, based on the BFI.
BIMCO - The Baltic and International Maritime Council (Copenhagen)
BIS - Bank for International Settlements (Basel)
BISCO - British Iron and Steel Corporation
BOSVA - British Offshore Supply Ships Association
BOTB - British Overseas Trade Board (London)
BP - Bundespolizei (Germany)
BROA - British Rigowners' Association
BSC - British Shippers Council
BSI - British Standards Institution
BUNS - Bulgarian Navy Ship
BV - Bureau Veritas - French classification society.



Cable: Nautical unit of distance, having a standard value of 1/10th of a nautical mile (608 ft.). For practical purposes a value of 200 yards is commonly used.
Calving: Breaking away of a mass of ice from a glacier or iceberg.
Camber: Arched form of a deck or beam to shed the water. Standard camber for weather decks is 1/50th of vessel's breadth.
Camel: Hollow vessel of iron, steel or wood, that is filled with water and sunk under a vessel. When water is pumped out, the buoyancy of camel lifts ship. Usually employed in pairs. Very valuable aid to salvage operations. At one time were usual means of lifting a vessel over a bar or sandbank. Were used in Rotterdam in 1690.
Can Hooks: Two flat hooks running freely on a wire or chain sling. Hooks are put under chime of casks, weight is taken on chain sling or wire. Weight of lift prevents unhooking.
Capesize:  vessel which is too large to navigate the Suez Canal to and from the Arabian Gulf, therefore being forced to voyage around the Cape of Good Hope - approximately 80,000 - 175,000 dwt.
Captain: Rank in R.N. between Commander and Commodore. In Merchant Navy is a courtesy title for a Master Mariner in command of a ship.
Careen: To list a vessel so that a large part of her bottom is above water. Formerly done to remove weed and marine growth, to examine the bottom, to repair it and to put on preservative or anti-fouling. Still done with small craft.
Carry on: To continue sailing under the same canvas despite the worsening of the wind.
Catching up Rope: Light rope secured to a buoy to hold vessel while stronger moorings are attached.
Catenary: Originally, length of chain put in middle of a tow rope to damp sudden stresses. Now applied to any weight put in a hawser for same purpose. 2). Curve formed by chain hanging from two fixed points.
Cat's Skin: Light, warm wind on surface of sea.
Chemical tanker - special tanker built for the transportation of bulk chemicals. Newer tonnage is equipped with stainless steel tanks. Ships may carry many different cargoes simultaneously, because each tank has its own pump and pipeline system for loading and unloading.
Charter: The hiring of a vessel for either 1) a specified period of time or 2) a specific voyage or set of voyages.
Charterer: The entity hiring the vessel from the shipowner.
Charter party: The contract between the owner and the charterer, stipulating in detail each party’s responsibilities in the transaction.
Check: To ease a rope a little, and then belay it.
Checking: Slacking a rope smartly, carefully and in small amounts.
Chuch: Name sometimes given to a fairlead.
Classification: In order for a vessel to obtain both insurance and employment with most companies, the vessel must belong to a classification society, an independent body run under the direction of various shipping professionals. In order to maintain classification, a vessel must meet the standards of that society and be inspected on a regular basis.
Clock Calm: Absolutely calm weather with a perfectly smooth sea.
Close Aboard: Close alongside, Very near.
Colimation: Correct alignment of the optical parts of an instrument.
Combination carrier - ships for the transportation of both liquid and dry bulk cargoes. There are two main types: Ore carriers and bulk-tank-ships.
Container vessel - Ship specially designed to carry standard containers (TEUs). Generally called Cellular container ship. The larger part of the cargo-carrying capacity consists of containers carried on deck or in cells in the hold. Containers are lifted on and off with special cranes and are then called lift on-lift off-ships. Container ships are generally fast, operating regular sailing schedules (lines).
Crack on: To carry sail to full limit of strength of masts, yards, and tackles.
Craft: Vessel or vessels of practically any size or type.
Crane and Construction Vessel/Unit - normally a ship, a barge or a semisubmersible, equipped for the construction and maintenance of fixed installations. May sometimes offer accommodation. Other services offered are: Storage facilities, the supply of water, compressed air and electricity, office space, communications centre, helicoptre landing pad, etc.
Crank: Said of a vessel with small stability, whether due to build or to stowage of cargo.
Creep: To search for a sunken object by towing a grapnel along bottom.
Crew: Personnel, other than Master, who serve on board a vessel. In some cases a differentiation between officers and ratings is made; but officers are "crew" in a legal sense.
Crimp: Person who decoys a seaman from his ship and gains money by robbing and, or, forcing him on board another vessel in want of men.
Crude Oil Carrier - Vessel designed for carrying for bulk crude oil in tanks.
Panamax - 50,001 dwt - 80,000 dwt approx with 32.2m beam limitation , Aframax - 80,001 dwt - 120,000 dwt , Suezmax - 120,001 dwt - 200,000 dwt , VLCC - 200,001 dwt - 350,000 dwt
ULCC - 350,001 dwt and larger 
Cruise ship - passenger vessel carrying passengers on trips between various ports, normally with the same starting and ending port. Standards of accommodation and recreation normally high.
Cruise: Voyage made in varying directions. To sail in various directions for pleasure, in search, or for exercise.
Culage: Laying up of a vessel, in a dock, for repairs.
Customary Dispatch: Usual and accustomed speed.

CAACE - Comité des Associations d'Armateurs de la Communaute Europeenne (Brussels) - organization for shipping companies from the EU.
CACM - Central American Common Market
CAJEA - Council of All Japanese Exporters' Association
CARICOM - Caribbean Community.
CASO - Council of American-flag Ship Operators (eight liner companies which left the AIMS).
CBA - Collective Bargaining Agreement (tariff agreement) - CBA for Filipino seamen between AMOSUP and ASO is an example. The term is used for any kind of tariff agreement, both for NIS-ships and foreignflagged ships.
CCA - Chemical Carriers Association
CCAF - Comite des Armateurs de France - the French shipowners' association.
CFAV - Canadian Forces Auxiliary Vessel
CCC - Customs Co-operation Council - forum for international cooperation between customs authorities, attempting to create harmony and uniformity of approach.
CCGC - Canadian Coast Guard Cutter
CCGS - Canadian Coast Guard Ship
CE - Conseil de l'Europe (Strasbourg)
C&E - Customs and Excise - British Department for Tariffs and Customs.
CEFOR - Maritime insurers central association.
CEMT - Conference Europeenne des Ministres des Transports - OECD-affiliated organization for dealing with transportation problems on rails, roads and inland waterways.
CEN - European Standardization Organization
CENSA - Council of European and Japanese National Shipowners' Associations (London).
CIS - Commonwealth of Independant States
CLC - Civil Liability Convention of 1969.
CMI - Comite Maritime International - the international association for maritime law.
CNS - Chilean Navy Ships
COFR - Certificate of Financial Responsibility - regarding the transport of oil to USA. Vessels must have a certificate guaranteeing the payment of up to USD 1,500 per dwt. in case of oil spills.
COGSA - Carriage of Goods by Sea Act (USA).
COTTON CLUB - informal forum for Western European and Japanese shipping attachees in Washington.
CRISTAL - Contract Regarding a Supplement to Tanker Liability for Oil Pollution - a voluntary system established by oil companies in order to "plug" holes in IMO-conventions concerning the financial settlement of claims in connection with oil spills. The oil companies' supplemet to TOVALOP.
CSC - Container Safety Convention - convention for the promotion of safer containers.
CSG - Consultative Shipping Group - forum for the discussion of shipping policy on Government level. Fourteen West-European participants and Japan.



Dead on End: Said of wind when exactly ahead; and of another vessel when her fore and aft line coincides with observer's line of sight.
Demurrage: Compensation paid by the charterer of the ship owner when loading and discharging time exceed the stipulated time in the voyage charter-party. This rate of compensation is generally explicitly stated in the charter-party.
Deratisation: Extermination of all rats aboard a vessel.
Dingbat: Slang term for a small swab made of rope and used for drying decks.
Ditty Bag: Small canvas bag in which a seaman keeps his small stores and impedimenta.
Ditty Box: Small wooden box, with lock and key, in which seamen of R.N. keep sentimental valuables, stationery, and sundry small stores.
Diurnal: Daily. Occurring once a day.
Diving Support Vessel - ship with diving equipment on board, carrying out various types of diving operations. May also be equipped with remotely operated or controlled sub-sea robots (Remote Operated Vehicle - ROV).
Donkeyman: Rating who tends a donkey boiler, or engine, and assists in engine-room.
Donkey's Breakfast: Merchant seaman's name for his bed or mattress.
Double bottom / double hull: Hull construction technique by which a ship has an inner and outer bottom or hull separated by void space, usually several feet in width.
Drift Ice: Ice in an area containing several small pieces of floating ice, but with total water area exceeding total area of ice.
Drilling Barge - barge equipped for drilling operations in smooth seas. Normally not equipped with own propulsion machinery. Max. drilling depth approximately 150 metres.
Drilling Rig - drilling tower with turntable and mudpumping system. May be installed on an offshore rig or placed on a fixed or floating offshore installation like a drillship.
Drillship - ship equipped with drilling rig and its own propulsion machinery. Kept in position by Dynamic Positioning Equipment. Operating in waters with a max. depth of 2,000 metres.
Drilling Tender - ship serving drilling installations which are depending on a ship or a barge for storage, accommodation, etc.
Dry cargo: A ship which carries break bulk cargoes, may be single or multi-decked.
Dunnage: Any material, permanent or temporary, that is used to ensure good stowage, and protect cargo during carriage.
DWT: Deadweight ton. A unit of a vessel’s capacity, for cargo, fuel oil, stores and crew, measured in metric tons of 1,000 kg. A vessel’s dwt or total deadweight is the total weight the vessel can carry when loaded to a particular load line.

DIS - Dansk Internationalt Skibsregister - Danish International Shipregister.
DG - Directorate General - the term used for the various departments of the EU-Commission.
DNME - Dynamic Non-Member Economies (referring to dynamic countries which are not members of the OECD)
DNMF - Det norske maskinistforbund - the Norwegian association for ships' engineers.
DNV - Det Norske Veritas (NV) - Norwegian classification society.
DoTI - Department of Trade and Industry, UK
DR - Danmarks Rederiforening - the Danish Shipowners' Association.
DSO - De samarbeidende organisasjoner - cooperation between DNMF and NS for mobile offshore installations (Norway).
DSRK - Deutsche Schiffs Revision und Klassifikation - German classification society.



EBRD - European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
ECE - Economic Commission for Europe, Geneva (UN)
ECJ - European Court of Justice (EU)
ECLA - Economic Commission for Latin America, UN-body under ECOSOC.
ECMT - European Conference of Ministers of Transport
ECOSOC - Economical and Social Council of the United Nations, New York - UN's main body for economic questions. The regional commissions - ECLA, ESCAP, ECA, etc. - answer to ECOSOC.
ECSA - European Community Shipowners' Association (Brussels)
ECSC - European Coal and Steel Community
ECU - European Currency Units. A financial unit used for EU accounting.
EEA - European Economic Area
EFTA - European Free Trade Association of Non-common Market Countries.
EIB - European Investment Bank
ELA - Euzko Langilleen Alkartsuna - Spanish-Basque trade union.
EMA - European Monetary Agreement
EMIF - European Maritime Industries Forum
EMU - Economic Monetary Union
E&P FORUM - The Oil Industry International Exploration and Production Forum (London). Statoil, Norsk Hydro and Saga Petroleum are full Norwegian members, while OLF is associated member.
ESA - EFTA Surveillance Authority.
ESC - European Shippers' Council (Hague)
ESCAPE - Economic and Social Commission for Asia and South Pacific - under ECOSOC.
EUROS - Planned shipregister in the EU.
EXIMBANK - Export-Import Bank of the United States to promote American exports.



Fair: To adjust to proper shape or size.
Fairway: Navigable water in a channel, harbour or river.
Fake: One circle of a coil or rope. To coil or arrange a rope ornamentally with each fake flat, or almost flat, on the deck, usually in a circle or figure-of-eight pattern. Sometimes called "Cheesing down".
Fang: Valve of a pump box. 2. To prime a pump.
Farewell Buoy: Buoy at seaward end of channel leading from a port.
Fast: Hawser by which a vessel is secured. Said of a vessel when she is secured by fasts.
Fast Ice: Ice extending seaward from land to which it is attached.
Fathom: Six feet (1.83 metres); length covered by a man's outstretched arms. Fathom of wood is a cubical volume 6'x 6'x 6' = 216 cu. ft.
Feather Spray: Foaming water that rises upward immediately before stem of any craft being propelled through water.
Feeder Vessel - a short-sea vessel used to fetch and carry goods and containers to and from deep sea vessels.
Fiddles: Wooden fittings clamped to meal tables in heavy weather. They limit movement of dishes, plates, glasses, etc.
Field Ice: Ice pack whose limits cannot be seen from ship.
Flake: To coil a rope so that each coil, on two opposite sides, lies on deck alongside previous coil; so allowing rope to run freely.
Fleeting: Shifting the moving block of a tackle from one place of attachment to another place farther along. Moving a man, or men, from one area of work to area next to it.
Flotsam, Flotson: Goods and fittings that remain floating after a wreck.
Flo-flo-ship - special ship which may be submerged to allow cargo to be floated on or off, i.e. jack-up platforms which may be carried "piggy-back"-fashion on a flo-flo-ship.
Fly Boat: Fast boat used for passenger and cargo traffic in fairly sheltered waters.
Fothering: Closing small leaks in a vessel's underwater body by drawing a sail, filled with oakum, underneath her.
Founder: To fill with water and sink.
Frazil: Small, cake-shaped pieces of ice floating down rivers. Name is given, also, to newly-formed ice sheet off coast of Labrador.
Freshen the Nip: To veer or haul on a rope, slightly, so that a part subject to nip or chafe is moved away and a fresh part takes its place.
Full and By: Sailing close-hauled with all sails drawing.
Furniture: The essential fittings of a ship, such as masts, davits, derricks, winches, etc.

FACS - Federation of American Controlled Shipping - organization for US companies with ships under FOC, mainly the Liberian.
FAO - UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (Rome)
FASA - Federation of Asian Shipowners' Associations
FENSO - Federation of Norwegian Ships Officers organizations (NMB in Norwegian)
FIATA - Federation Internationale des Associations de Transifaires et Assimiles (Zurich) - International association of forwarding agents.
FMC - Federal Maritime Commission - American independant control authority regulating liner services to the USA.
FOC - Flag of Convenience
FONASABA - Federation of National Associations of Shipbrokers and Agents
FR - Finlands Rederiförening - the Finnish Shipowners' Association.



Gas tanker - special ship for the transportation of condensed (liquid) gases. The most important cargoes are:
LNG - Liquefied Natural Gas (mostly methane). LPG - Liquefied Petroleum Gas (propane, butane).
Ammonia. Ethylene.On board, gases are kept liquid with highly effective insulation (thermosbottle-principle), by high pressure or by low temperature. LNG-ships must be able to carry cargoes with temperatures as low as -163°C.
Gilliwatte: Name given to Captain's boat in 17th century.
Glory Hole: Any small enclosed space in which unwanted items are stowed when clearing up decks.
Gob Line: Back rope of a martingale. 2. A length of rope used in a tug to bowse in the towrope. Gog rope.
Growler: Small iceberg that has broken away from a larger berg.

GATS - General Agreement on Trade in Services - part of GATT - concerns trading in services, incl. shipping.
GATT - General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (Geneva).
GCBS - General Council of British Shipping - the amalgamation of the former BSF - British Shipping Federation - and the UK Chamber of Shipping, established 1976.
GIS - German International Shipregister
GL - Germanischer Lloyd - German classification society.
GMDSS - Global Maritime Distress and Safety System
GBS - Gravity Base Structure



Handysize: 10,000 dwt - 30,000 dwt
Handymax: 30,001 dwt - 50,000 dwt
Haul: To pull.
Hawser: Flexible steel wire rope, or fibre rope, used for hauling warping or mooring.
Hazing: Giving a man a dog's life by continual work, persistent grumbling and petty tyranny.
Head Fast: Mooring rope leading forward from fore end of a vessel.
Headway: Forward movement of a ship through the water.
Heave: To lift.
Heavy Floe: Piece of floating ice more than three feet thick.
Hoist: To lift.
Horse Marine: Unhandy seaman.
Hove: Heaved.
Hoveller: Person who assists in saving life or property from a vessel wrecked near the coast. Often applied to a small boat that lies in narrow waters ready to wait on a vessel, if required.
Hove To: Lying nearly head to wind and stopped, and maintaining this position by trimming sail or working engines.
Hull Down: Said of a distant ship when her hull is below horizon and her masts and upper works are visible.
Hulling: Floating, but at mercy of wind and sea. 2. Piercing the hull with a projectile. 3. Taking in sail during a calm.
HSS - Highspeed Sea Service - fast ferry concept with double- or multihulled vessels with carrying capacity of up to 1500 passengers and around 400 cars.

HR - Hellenic Register of Shipping - Greek classification society
HMAS - Her Majesty's Australian Ship
HMCS - Her Majesty's Canadian Ship
HMNZS - Her Majesty's New Zealand Ship
HMS - Her Majesty's Ship
HNLCGC - Her Majesty's Netherlands CGC
HNLMS - Her Majesty's Netherlands Ship
HRM - Croatian Navy Ship




Idler: Member of a crew who works all day but does not keep night watches: e.g. carpenter, sailmaker.
Idle time: Period during which a vessel is able to be employed but is not earning revenue.
Indulgence Passenger: Person given a passage in one of H.M. ships; usually on compassionate grounds.
Intermediate survey: The inspection of a vessel by a classification society surveyor which takes place approximately two and half years before and after each Special Survey. This survey is more rigorous than the "Annual Survey" and is meant to ensure that the vessel meets the standards of the classification society.

IACS - International Association of Classification Societies
IADC - International Association of Drilling Contractors (Houston/Amsterdam)
IAPH - International Association of Ports and Harbours.
IBIA - International Bunker Industry Association (Kingston on Thames).
IBRD - International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (Washington) - the World Bank.
ICC - International Chamber of Commerce
ICFTU - International Confederation of Free Trade Unions
ICHCA - International Cargo Handling Co-ordination Association (London)
ICOTAS - International Committee on the Organization of Traffic at Sea (London)
ICPL - International Committee on Passenger Lines (for the CENSA-countries).
ICS - International Chamber of Shipping (London)
IFC - International Finance Corporation
IFSMA - International Federation of ShipMasters Association (London)
ILA - International Law Association
ILO - UN's International Labour Organization (Geneva)
IMB - International Maritime Bureau - bureau established by the ICC to combat fraud in the shipping industry.
IMDG - International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code - rules for the labelling of dangerous goods at sea.
IMEC - International Maritime Employers' Committee
IMIF - International Maritime Industry Forum - a forum for banks and shipbuilders with the purpose of solving problems in connection with surplus tanker tonnage.
IMO - International Maritime Organization (London) - UN's maritime authority.
IMPA - International Pilots' Association
IMU - International Maritime Union (Latin-American seamen's union with US affiliations.)
INMARSAT - International Maritime Satellite Organization (London)
INS - Indian Navy Ship
INSROP - International Northern Sea Route Programme - comprehensive, multi-national, multi-disciplinary five-year research programme investigating commercial navigation through the North-East Passage.
INTERCARGO - International Association of Dry Cargo Shipowners (London) - Opposite number to INTERTANKO.
INTERTANKO - International Association of Independent Tanker Owners (Oslo)
IOE - International Organization of Employers
IOPC - International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund
IOPP - International Oil Pollution Prevention Certificate
ISF - International Shipping Federation (London) - cooperation of maritime employers' associations.
ISM - International Safety Management Code
ISMA - International Ship Managers' Association
ISO - International Standards Organization (London)
ISOA - International Support Vessels Owners' Association (London)
ITF - International Transport Workers' Federation (London)
ITOPF - International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation Ltd. (London) - manages TOVALOP and cooperates closely with CRISTAL.
ITS - International Tanker Service - planned cooperation in the market between independent tanker owners.
IWA - International Wheat Agreement



Jack Nastyface: Nickname for an unpopular seaman. Originally, nom de plume of a seaman who wrote a pamphlet about conditions in Royal Navy in early years of 19th century.
Jackup - movable installation consisting of a large deck with legs which may be jacked up. During operation, the legs are resting on the seabed, and the vessel "jacked up", leaving the deck in secure position high above the surface of the sea. When moved, the legs are retracted and the installation floates. Usually not equipped with own propulsion machinery. (Max. water depths 110 to 120 metres.) Normally used as a drilling rig.
Jerque: Search of a vessel, by Customs authorities, for unentered goods.
Jetsam: Goods that have been cast out of a ship and have sunk.
Jimmy Bungs: Nickname for a ship's cooper.
Jolly Boat: General purpose boat of a ship.

JR - Jugoslav Register - Yugoslav classification society.



Keckling: Winding small rope around a cable or hawser to prevent damage by chafing. 2. The rope with which a cable is keckled.
Kedging: Moving a vessel by laying out a small anchor and then heaving her to it.
Kelter: Good order and readiness.
Kenning: Sixteenth-century term for a sea distance at which high land could be observed from a ship. Varied between 14 and 22 miles according to average atmospheric conditions in a given area.
Kentledge: Permanent pip iron ballast specially shaped and placed along each side of keelson. Name is sometimes given to any iron ballast.
Key of Keelson: Fictitious article for which greenhorns at sea are sometimes sent.
Killick: Nautical name for an anchor. Originally, was a stone used as an anchor.
Kippage: Former name for the equipment of a vessel, and included the personnel.
Knots per Hour: An expression never used by careful seamen, being tautological and illogical.
Kraken: Fabulous sea monster supposed to have been seen off coasts of America and Norway. Sometimes mistaken for an island.

KD - Malaysian Ship
KDB - Brunei Ship
KFK - Koordinerende forskningskomite (Norway) - Coordinating Research Committee.
KPI - Kesatuan Pelant Indonesia - Indonesian seamen's union.
KRI - Indonesian Ship




Lading: That which is loaded into a ship. The act of loading.
Ladden: A vessel is laden when it is carrying cargo.
Lagan: Jettisoned goods that sink and are buoyed for subsequent recovery.
Lanyard: Rope or cord used for securing or attaching.
Large: Said of vessel sailing with wind abaft the beam but not right aft.
Lascar: Native of east India employed as a seaman.
LASH - Lighter Aboard Ship, i.e. ships which can carry lighters "piggy-back" fashion.
Lask: To sail large, with wind about four points abaft beam.
Lay Aboard: To come alongside.
Laying on Oars: Holding oars at right angles to fore and aft line of boat with blades horizontal and parallel to surface of water. Is used also as a sarcastic term for idling, or not pulling one's weight.
Lay Out: Order to men at mast to extend themselves at intervals along a yard. 2. To keep a vessel at a certain place until a specified time has elapsed.
Lay the Land: To cause the land to sink below horizon by sailing away from it.
Lay-up: Mooring a ship at a protected anchorage, shutting down substantially all of its operating systems and taking measures to protect against corrosion and other deterioration. Generally, a ship enters lay-up for a period when its owner does not consider it profitable to continue trading that vessel for that period.
Lazarette, Lazaretto: Storeroom containing provisions of a ship. 2. Ship or building in which persons in quarantine are segregated.
League: Measure of distance three miles in length. One-twentieth of a degree of latitude.
Lee Lurch: Heavy roll to leeward with a beam wind.
Lie: To remain in a particular place or position.
Lie By: To remain nearly alongside another vessel.
Lie To: To shop a ship and lie with wind nearly ahead.
Light Hand: Youthful but smart seaman.
Light Port: Scuttle or porthole fitted with glass.
Limber Holes: Holes in floor timbers, or tank side-brackets, through which bilge water flows to pump suction.
Line: A light rope or hawser. Small rope used for a specific purpose.
Liner - Vessel serving a regular defined route or trade, following a published sailing schedule.
Lipper: Small sea that rises just above bows or gunwale.
Lobscouse: Nautical stew made with preserved meat and vegetables.
Lo-lo-ship - Lift on-lift off-ship. Containers or other goods are lifted on board and ashore by cranes.
Lop: Small but quick-running sea.
Lubber: A clumsy and unskilled man.
Lumper: Man employed in unloading ships in harbour, or in taking a ship from one port to another. Paid "lump" sum for services.
Lurch: Sudden and long roll of a ship in a seaway.
Lying to: Said of a vessel when stopped and lying near the wind in heavy weather.

LAFTA - Latin America Free Trade Association
LLMC - International Convention on Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims
LOF'90 - Lloyd's Open Form 1990 - standard form of salvage agreement.
LR - Lloyd's Register of Shipping - British classification society.



Mariner: In general, a person employed in a sea-going vessel. In some cases, applied to a seaman who works on deck.
Marry the Gunner's Daughter: Old Navy nickname for a flogging, particularly when across a gun.
Master: Merchant Navy officer in command of ship. Name was given, formerly, to the navigating officer of H.M. ships.
Mate: An officer assistant to Master. A "Chief Officer". From time immemorial he has been responsible for stowage and care of cargo and organization of work of seamen, in addition to navigating duties.
Middle Ground: Shoal area between two navigational channels.
Moor: To secure a ship in position by two or more anchors and cables. 2. To attach a vessel to a buoy, or buoys. 3. To secure a vessel by attaching ropes to positions ashore.
M/T-Motor Tanker: A tanker propelled by diesel engines.
Newbuilding: A new vessel under construction.

MARAD - Maritime Administration (USA) - authority under the US department for Trade. Handles subsidies etc. to American shipyards and shipping companies.
MARINTEK - Norsk Marinteknisk Forskningsinstitutt A/S (Trondheim) - Norwegian maritime research institution.
MARPOL - International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from ships (London)
MEIF - Mandatory Excess Insurance Facility - Norwegian-Swedish-Greek proposal to solve the COFR- question.
MEPC - Maritime Environment Protection Committee (IMO, London)
MITS - Maritim information technology.
MMEP - Martin's Marine Engineering Page ( 
MSC - Maritime Safety Committee (IMO, London)
MTC - Maritime Transport Committee (OECD)
MUI - Maritime Union of Indian Officers



Narrow Channel Rule: Rule of Collision Regulations. Requires a vessel navigating a narrow channel to keep to that side of mid-channel that is on her starboard hand.
Nipped: Said of a vessel when pressed by ice on both sides.
Nog: Treenail in heel of a shore supporting a ship on the slip.
Nunatak: Isolated rocky peak rising from a sheet of inland ice.

NASCO - Norwegian Asian Seafarers' Conference
NATO - North-Atlantic Treaty Organization - Western defence alliance.
NE - Brazilian Navy Ship
NFD - Norwegian Friendship Development - Norwegian recruiting office in Manila.
NIS - Norsk Internasjonalt Skipsregister (Bergen) - Norwegian International Ship Register.
NK - Nippon Kaiji Kyokai - Japanese classification society.
NMB - Norsk Maritimt Befalskartell - (see FENSO)
NMU - National Maritime Union (USA)
NOKUS - Special taxation scheme for Norwegian-controlled companies in low-tax countries.
NOPEF - Norsk Olje- og Petrokjemisk Fagforbund, Stavanger - Norwegian trade union for oil industry workers.
NOR - Skipsregisteret, Bergen. Often termed Norsk Ordinært Register - the Norwegian Ordinary Ship Register.
NORDKOMPASS - Nordisk Komite for Passasjerskip - Nordic forum for passengership and ferry companies and shipowners' associations.
NR - Norges Rederiforbund (Oslo) - Norwegian Shipowners' Association (NSA).
NRP - Portuguese Navy Ship
NS - Norsk Styrmandsforening - the former Norwegian association for ships' mates.
NSA - see NR
NSF - Norsk Sjomannsforbund - Norwegian Seafarers' Union, (also Norsk Skibsforerforbund - Norwegian Association of Master Mariners)
NSOAF - North Sea Offshore Authority Forum.
NSU - National Seafarers' Union (Sri Lanka)
NTC - Norwegian Training Center (Manila)
NUMAST - British trade union for officers and crew.
NUS - National Union of Seamen - British seamen's union.
NUSHIP - New Australian Ship
NUSI - National Union of Seamen of India
NV - see DNV




OBO - carrier - vessel built for the carriage of diversified bulkcargoes (i.e. Oil/Bulk/Ore).
Off and Fair: Order to take off a damaged member of a vessel, to restore it to its proper shape and condition, and to replace it in position.
Offing: Sea area lying between visible horizon and a line midway between horizon and observer on the shore. To keep an offing is to keep a safe distance away from the coast.
Off-hire: Period during which a vessel is temporarily incapable of trading due to dry docking, maintenance, repair or breakdown.
Offshore service vessels - common term for specialized vessels used during the exploration, development and production phases of oil and gas finds at sea.
Oil tanker - ship carrying crude oil or refined products. If a ship is equipped to carry several types of cargo simultaneously, the ship type is called Parcel tanker. A shuttle tanker is a tanker carrying oil from offshore oil fields to terminals. An oil tanker especially built for the transportation of refined oil products, often with tanks painted or coated on the inside, is called a product carrier.
Overhaul: To examine with a view to repairing or refitting. 2. To overtake. 3. To extend a tackle so that distance between blocks is increased.

OAPEC - Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries
OCIMF - Oil Companies' International Marine Forum (London)
OECD - Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development - 25 member countries.
OFS - Oljearbeidernes Fellessammenslutning (Stavanger) - Norwegian federation of trade unions in the oil industry.
OFU - Offshorenæringens Forhandlingsutvalg - negotiating committee for the offshore industry.
OLF - Oljeindustriens Landsforening (Stavanger) - Federation of oil industry employers.
OPA - Oil Pollution Act (USA)
OPEC - Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Vienna)
OSSL - Oljeserviceselskapenes Landsforening - The Association of Norwegian Oil Industry Service Companies.
OSV - Offshore Support Vessel



Pack-Ice: Numbers of large pieces of floating ice that have come together and lie more or less in contact.
Paddy's Purchase: Seaman's scornful name for any lead of a rope by which effort is lost or wasted. "Paddy's purchase, spunyarn over a nail."
Painter: Rope at stem of boat for securing it or for towing purposes. 2. Chain by which an Admiralty pattern anchor is secured in place. "Shank Painter."
PANAMAX: A vessel of approximately 50,000 to 75,000 dwt, of maximum length and breadth (32.2m beam) and draught capable of passing through the Panama Canal.
Pancake Ice: Small, circular sheets of newly-formed ice that do not impede navigation.
Parclose: Limber hole of a ship.
Parting Strop: Strop inserted between two hawsers, and weaker than the hawsers, so that strop, and not hawsers, will part with any excessive strain. 2. Special strop used for holding cable while parting it.
Pay Off: To discharge a crew and close Articles of Agreement of a merchant ship. 2. To terminate commission of H.M.ship. 3. Said of ship's head when it moves away from wind, especially when tacking.
Peggy: Merchant Navy nickname for seaman whose turn of duty it is to keep the messing place clean.
Petty Officer: Rank intermediate between officer and rating, and in charge of ratings. Usually messed apart from ratings, and has special privileges appropriate to his position.
Piggin: Very small wooden pail having one stave prolonged to form a handle. Used as a bailer in a boat.
Pinnace: Formerly, small, two-masted sailing vessel sometimes with oars. Now rowing, sailing or mechanically-propelled boat of R.N. Is diagonal built: 36ft. in length.
Pool: Enclosed, or nearly enclosed sheet of water. 2. Fluctuating congregation of men from which can be drawn hands required for manning ships, and to which can be added men available for manning.
Pooping: Said of a vessel, or of the sea, when following seas sweep inboard from astern.
Popple: A short, confused sea.
Port Hole: Small aperture, usually circular, in ship's side. Used for lighting, ventilating and other purposes.
Primage: Money paid by shipper to Master of ship for diligence in care of cargo. Not now paid to Master, but added to freight. Amount was usually about 1% of freight.
Procuration: The acting of one person on behalf of another. 2. A document authorizing one person to act on behalf of another.
Products Tanker:Vessel designed for carrying refined petroleum products in bulk tanks. 
Coastal - 3,001 dwt - 10,000 dwt approx ,  Small - 10,001 dwt - 19,000 dwt approx , Handy - 19,001 dwt - 25,000 dwt approx , Medium - 25,001 dwt - 45,000 dwt approx , LRI (Long Range One) - 45,001 dwt - 70,000 dwt approx , LRII (Long Range Two) - 70,001 dwt - 100,000+ dwt approx  
Production Ship - specialized ship pumping oil through flexible pipelines from the seabed.
Production Unit - platform equipped for the production of oil and gas.
Propogation: Movement of crest of a progressive wave.
Protest: Statement under oath, made before a notary public, concerning a actual or anticipated loss, damage or hindrance in the carrying out of a marine adventure.
Punt: Small craft propelled by pushing on a pole whose lower end rests on the bottom of the waterway. 2. To propel a boat by resting end of a pole on bottom of waterway. 3. Copper punt.
Puoy: Spiked pole used for propelling a barge or boat by resting its outboard end on an unyielding object.
Purser's Grin: Hypocritical smile, or sneer.

PBOS - NATO Planning Board for Ocean Shipping (Brussels)
P&I - Protection and Indemnity Insurance
POEA - Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (Manila)
PR - Polish classification society.
PSU - Polish Seafarers' Union (formerly S-FUF or MR).
PSV - Platform Supply Vessel.



Quarter: That part of a vessel between the beam and the stern.
Quarter Boat: Boat carried at davits on quarter of ship, and kept ready for immediate use when at sea.
Quarter Spring: Rope led forward, from quarter of a vessel, to prevent her from ranging astern; or to heave her ahead.
Quay: Artificial erection protruding into the water to facilitate loading and discharge of cargo, landing and embarkation of passengers, repairing or refitting of ships.



Radome: A bun-shaped cover placed over a radar scanner to prevent risk of fouling and to protect it from the weather.
Rafting: Overlapping of edges of two ice-floes, so that one floe is partly supported by the other.
Reach: Straight stretch of water between two bends in a river or channel.
Rector: Name given to Master of a ship in 11th and 12 centuries.
Reefer Vessel - vessel with refrigerated cargo hold(s).
Refit: Removal of worn or damaged gear and fitting of new gear in replacement.
Return Port: The proper return port of a discharged seaman.
Rooming: The navigable water to leeward of a vessel.
Ro-ro-ship (Roll on - Roll off) - the cargo is driven on board and ashore, either by means of own engine (cars/trailers), or by means of special trucks. There are three main areas: Ro-ro-ship operating in lines carries containers, pallets, flats or general cargo, and any type of cargo that can be driven on board. Ro-ro-ship for the transportation of new automobiles (specialised: Pure Car Carrier - PCC), may also carry other rolling cargo. Ro-ro-ferries carrying a combination of rolling cargo (cars/lorries/trailers) and passengers.
Rummage: Originally meant "to stow cargo". Now, means "to search a ship carefully and thoroughly".
Run Out: To put out a mooring, hawser or line from a ship to a point of attachment outside her.

RCLV - Royal Corp of Logistics Vessel
RFA - Royal Fleet Auxiliary
RFS - Russian Navy Ship
RI - Registro Italiano - Italian classification society.
RLF - Rederienes Landsforening - Association of Norwegian short-sea shipowners.
ROV - Remote Operated Vehicle
RS - Romanian Navy Ship
RS - the former Soviet classification society.




Sailing Ice: Small masses of drift ice with waterways in which a vessel can sail.
Sailor: Man or boy employed in sailing deep-water craft. Word is sometimes loosely used to include men who go to sea. Used officially to denote a seaman serving on deck. At one time was a man with previous sea experience, but who was not rated able seaman.
Sallying: Rolling a vessel, that is slightly ice-bound, so as to break the surface ice around her. May sometimes be done when a vessel is lightly aground, but not ice-bound.
Scrap: At the end of its life, a vessel is sold to a shipbreaker who strips the ship and sells the steel. When charter rates are low, the scrap value of the vessel may exceed the present trading value of that vessel, especially if the vessel must incur significant costs to pass special surveys.
Scuttle Butt: Covered cask, having lid in head, in which fresh water for current use was formerly carried.
Sea Battery: Assault upon a seaman, by Master, while at sea.
Sea Boat: Ship's boat kept ready for immediate lowering while at sea: sometimes called "accident boat". 2. Applied to a ship when assessing her behaviour in a seaway.
Sea Captain: Master of a sea-going vessel. Certificated officer competent and qualified to be master of a sea-going vessel.
Sea Dog: Old and experienced seaman. 2.Dog fish. 3. Elizabethan privateer.
Seafarer: One who earns his living by service at sea.
Sea Lawyer: Nautical name for an argumentative person.
Seamanlike: In a manner, or fashion, befitting a seaman.
Sea Smoke: Vapour rising like steam or smoke from the sea caused by very cold air blowing over it. Frost-smoke, steam-fog, warm water fog, water smoke.
Second Greaser: Old nickname for a second mate.
Seiche: Short period oscillation in level of enclosed, or partly enclosed, area of water when not due to the action of tide-raising forces.
Seismic ship - vessel mapping geological structures in the seabed by firing air guns transmitting sound waves into the bottom of the sea. The echo of the shot is captured by listening devices/hydrophones being towed behind the vessel. A seismic ship provides data which is an intrinsic part of the material determining if and when a test drilling should be initiated.
Semisubmersible - movable installation consisting of a deck on stilts, fastened to two or more pontoons. When in operation, the pontoons are filled with water and lowered beneath the surface. The installation is normally kept in position by a number of anchors, but may also be fitted with dynamic positioning equipment (DPE). Usually fitted with own propulsion machinery (max. water depths 600 - 800 metres).
Sewed: Said of a vessel when water level has fallen from the level at which she would float. Also said of the water that has receded and caused a vessel to take the ground.
Shallop: Small boat for one or two rowers. 2. Small fishing vessel with foresail, boom mainsail, and mizen trysail. 3. A sloop.
Sheet: Rope or purchase by which clew of a sail is adjusted and controlled when sailing.
Shelf-Ice: Land ice, either afloat or on ground, that is composed of layers of sow that have become firm but have not turned to glacier ice.
Shellback: An old and experienced seaman.
Ship: A sea-going vessel. 2. Vessel having a certificate of registry. Technically, a sailing vessel having three or more masts with yards crossed on all of them. In Victorian times, any vessel with yards on three masts was termed a "ship" even if other masts were fore and aft rigged. To ship, is to put on or into a vessel; to put any implement or fitting into its appropriate holder.
Shipmaster: A person in command of a ship. A person certified as competent to command a ship. A master mariner.
Shoot Ahead: To move ahead swiftly. To move ahead of another vessel quickly when underway.
Short Stay: Said of a vessel's anchor, or cable when the amount of cable out is not more than one-and-a-half times the depth of water.
Sighting: Observing with the eye. Applied to document, means examining and signing as evidence of satisfaction as to its authenticity.
Sighting the Bottom: Drydocking, beaching, or careening a vessel and carefully examining the bottom with a view to ascertaining any damage it may have.
Signed Under Protest: Words incorporated when signing under duress and not concurring entirely with import of document signed, and after stating grounds of non-concurrence.
Singling Up: Taking in all ropes not wanted, so that only a minimum number of ropes will require casting off when leaving a berth or buoy.
Sixteen Bells: Eight double strokes on ship's bell; customarily struck at midnight when new year commences. Eight bells are for 24 hours of passing year, eight bells for 00 hours of New Year.
Slob: Loose and broken ice in bays, or along exposed edges of floes.
Slop Chest: Chest, or compartment, in which is stowed clothing for issue to crew.
Slop Room: Compartment in which clothing for issue to crew is stowed.
Small Tanker: A tanker generally of less than 50,000 dwt.
Smelling the Ground: Said of a vessel when her keel is close to the bottom and all but touching it.
Snorter: Alternative name for "Snotter". 2. A very high wind.
Snub: To stop suddenly a rope or cable that is running.
Snubber Line: Rope used for checking a vessel's way when warping her into a dock or basin.
Soft Tack: Fresh bread.
Son of a Gun: Seaman who was born aboard a warship. As this was once considered to be one of the essentials of the perfect seaman it has long been a complimentary term.
Soogee Moogee/Sujee-mujee: Cleansing powder used for cleaning wood and paintwork.
Spanking: Applied to a wind, or movement of a vessel, to denote brisk and lively.
Special survey: The inspection of a vessel by a classification society surveyor which takes place every four to five years. A shipowner often must incur a great deal of repair expense in order to pass his fourth and fifth special survey and as a result may choose to simply scrap the vessel beforehand.
Spile Hole: Small hole bored in cask or barrel to allow air to enter when emptying.
Spindrift: Finely-divided water swept from crest of waves by strong winds.
Splice Main Brace: To issue an extra ration of rum. The main brace, often a tapered rope, was spliced only in the most exceptional circumstances.
Spooning: Running directly before wind and sea.
Spot market: The market for chartering a vessel for single voyages.
Spray: Water blown, or thrown, into the air in particles.
Spring: Rope from after part of a vessel led outside and forward to a point of attachment outside vessel. By heaving on it ship can be moved ahead. Sometimes led to anchor cable, for casting ship's head. 2. Tendency of a vessel's head to come nearer to wind. 3. The opening of a seam. 4. Partial fracture in a mast or spar.
Spume: Froth of foam of the sea.
Staith: Elevated structure from which coal and other cargoes can be loaded into a vessel. Name is also given to a landing-place, or loading-place.
Stanch: Said of a vessel that is firm, strong, and unlikely to develop leaks.
Stand-by Vessel - ship permanently stationed in the vicinity of an installation with the task of evacuating the rig-crew in an emergency. Also carrying out guard duty keeping other ships away from the installation.
Stave off: To bear off with a staff, boathook, long spar, etc.
Stemming: Maintaining position over the ground when underway in a river or tidal stream. 2. Reporting a vessel's arrival in dock to the dock authority, or Customs.
Stern Sheets: That space, in a boat, abaft after thwart; or between after thwart and backboard.
Storis: Large drift ice, more than two years old, that passes down the south-east coast of Greenland.
Storage: The use of a vessel for the storage rather than the transportation of cargo. When spot market rates are low, a vessel can earn comparable net cash flow from storage.
Storm Bound: Confined to an anchorage or haven through being unable to proceed because of stormy weather.
Stow: To pack compactly and safely.
Stretch Off the Land: Old sailing ship term for taking "forty winks".
Submersible - movable installation constructed for drilling operations in shallow waters, where it is lowered until it rests on the seabed (max. water depth 30 - 40 metres).
Suezmax: A vessel of approximately 115,000 to 200,000dwt of maximum length and breadth and draught capable of passing through the Suez Canal.
Suck the Monkey: Originally, to suck rum from a coconut -- into which it had been (illicitly) inserted, the end of the nut resembling a monkey's face. Later, illicitly to suck spirit from a cask, usually through a straw.
Sujee;Suji-muji (spelling various): Soap or cleaning-powder mixed with fresh water. To wash paint with sujee.
Sun over Foreyard: Nautical equivalent to "Time we had a drink."
Supply ship - vessel transporting stores and equipment to drilling rigs or installations being built or in the production phase. Often called Straight Supply, or Platform Supply Vessel (PSV).
Swab: Seaman's mop for drying decks. Made of old rope unlaid and seized on the bight; about four feet in length. Sometimes made smaller and seized to a wooden handle for putting highly-alkaline solutions on deck for cleansing purposes.
Swallow the Anchor: To leave the sea and settle ashore.
SWATH - Small Waterplane Area Twin Hull - fast and economical hull design, primarily used for highspeed ferries, etc.
Sweat Up: To haul on a rope to hoist the last possible inch or so.
Swell: Succession of long and unbroken waves that are not due to meteorological conditions in the vicinity. Generally due to wind at a distance from the position.

SAS - South African Ship
SEATO - South-East Asian Treaty Organization - defence alliance.
SFT - Statens Forurensningstilsyn - Norwegian Pollution Authority.
SIGGTO - Society of International Gas Tankers and Terminal Operators
SIRE - Ship Inspection Report Programme
SIU - Seafarers' International Union (USA)
SIØS - Senter for Internasjonal Økonomi og Skipsfart ved Norges Handelshoyskole i Bergen - Norwegian center for maritime economics (Bergen).
SLNS - Sri Lankan Navy Ship
SOLAS - Convention on Safety of Life at Sea (IMO, London)
SRF - Sveriges Redareförening, Gothenburg - Swedish Shipowners' Association.
STCW - International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (IMO, London)
STUFT - Ships Taken Up From Trade - merchant vessels chartered by the military.
SUNAMAM - Brazilian shipping organization representing the authorities.




Tally Board: Board, bearing instructions, that comes to a wrecked ship with a life-saving rocket line.
Tally Book: Book in which is kept a reckoning of items of cargo received or discharged from a hatch or vessel.
Tanky: Petty officer in R.N. whose duty is to look after fresh-water tanks. At one time these tanks were under the charge of the navigating officer, who shared the nickname.
Tanker: Ship designed for the carriage of liquid cargoes in bulk, her cargo space consisting of many tanks. Tankers carry a variety of products including crude oil, refined products, liquid chemicals, liquid gas and wine. Tankers load their cargo by gravity from the shore or by shore pumps and discharge using their own pumps. 
Types of tankers: see Product Tankers and Crude Oil Carriers
TCE - time charter equivalent: A measure of revenue performance based on a spot market rate, measured in $/ton, adjusted to equate to a time charter rate, measured in dollars per ship per day. TCE is calculated as gross revenue less the voyage specific expenses that the owner would not have incurred had the vessel been time-chartered, divided by the number of voyage days.
Time charter: The hire of a ship for a specified period of time. The owner provides the ship with crew, stores and provisions, ready in all aspects to load cargo and proceed on a voyage. The charterer pays for bunkering and all voyage related expenses including canal tolls and port charges.
Teem: To pour. To empty.
Tenth Wave: Commonly believed to be higher than preceding nine waves. Although it is true that wind effect causes one wave to override another, and so make a larger wave, it is not established that the eleventh wave will do this; so making a larger tenth wave. In some places the fifth wave is consistently larger.
Tension Leg Platform - floating platform or loading buoy fastened to the seabed with vertical chains or stays etc. , kept in position by its own buoyancy
Thole, Thole Pin: Metal or wooden peg inserted in gunwale of a boat for oar to heave against when rowing without crutch or rowlock.
Three Sheets in the Wind: Said of a man under the influence of drink. A ship with three sheets in the wind would "stagger to and fro like a drunken man". Conversely, a drunken man staggers to and fro like a ship with three sheets in the wind.
Ticket: Colloquial name for a "Certificate of Competency". Generally looked upon as a disparaging name but, etymologically speaking, is perfectly appropriate.
Tom Cox's Traverse: Work done by a man who bustles about doing nothing. Usually amplified by adding "running twice round the scuttle butt and once round the longboat".
Ton-miles: A measure of tanker demand. Tons carried by avessel multiplied by the distance traveled.
Touch and Go: To touch the ground, with the keel, for a minute or so and then proceed again.
Trice: To haul up by pulling downwards on a rope that is led through a block or sheave.
Trick: A spell of duty connected with the navigation of a vessel; more particularly, at the wheel or look-out.
Turn: Complete encirclement of a cleat, bollard, or pin by a rope.
Turn up: To fasten a rope securely by taking turns around a cleat or bollard. Under Foot: Said of anchor when it is under ship's forefoot, and cable is nearly up and down.

TIR - Transport Internationale Routier - International customs' convention.
TOVALOP - Tanker Owners' Voluntary Agreement Concerning Liabililty for Oil Pollution (London)
TUAC - Trade Union Advisory Committee - advisory committee representing employees in the OECD.



Under Way: Not attached to the shore or the ground in any manner. Usually, but not necessarily, moving through or making way through the water.
Unmoor: To cast off hawsers by which a vessel is attached to a buoy or wharf. To weigh one anchor when riding to two anchors. To remove a mooring swivel when moored to two cables.
ULCC: Ultra Large Crude Carrier. An ocean-going tanker vessel of more than 320,000 dwt, designed to carry crude oil cargoes.
Unship: To remove from a ship. To remove an item from its place.
Up and Down: Said of cable when it extends vertically and taut from anchor to hawsepipe.

UGT - Union General de Trabajadores - Spanish TUC.
UMS - Myanmar Navy Ship
UNCLOS - United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea
UNCTAD - United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Geneva)
UNIDO - United Nations Industrial Development Organization
USAT - US Army Transport
USCG - U.S. Coast Guard
USCGC - US Coast Guar Cutter
USMC - US Maritime Commission
USNS - US Naval Ship
USS - United States Ship



Van: The leading ship, or ships, in a fleet or squadron.
Venture: An enterprise in which there is a risk of loss.
Vessel: Defined by Merchant Shipping Act as "any ship or boat, or other description of vessel, used in navigation".
Vigia: Uncharted navigational danger that has been reported but has not been verified by survey.
Vise: Endorsement on a document as evidence that it has been sighted, examined, and found correct by a proper authority.
VLCC: Very Large Crude Carrier. An ocean-going vessel of between 200,000 and 320,000 dwt, designed to carry crude oil cargoes.
Voyage charter: Contract of carriage in which the charterer pays for the use of a ship’s cargo capacity for one, or sometimes more than one, voyage. Under this type of charter, the ship owner pays all the operating costs of the ship (including bunkers, canal and port charges, pilotage, towage and ship’s agency) while payment for cargo handling charges are subject of agreement between the parties. Freight is generally paid per unit of cargo, such as a ton, based on an agreed quantity, or as a lump sum irrespective of the quantity loaded.

VDR - Verband Deutscher Reeder - German Shipowners' Association.
VTS - Vessel Traffic System



Wake: The water immediately astern of a moving vessel. It is disturbed by vessel's motion through it and by the subsequent filling up of the cavity made.
"Warming the Bell": Striking "eight bells' a little before time at the end of a watch.
Warp: The longitudinal threads in canvas and other textiles. 2. Hawser used when warping. Originally, was a rope smaller than a cable. 3. The line by which a boat rides to a sea anchor. 4. Mooring ropes.
Wash: Broken water at bow of a vessel making way. 2. Disturbed water made by a propeller or paddle wheel. 3. Blade of an oar.
Washing Down: Said of a vessel when she is shipping water on deck and it is running off through scuppers and freeing ports.
Watch Bell: Bell used for striking the half hours of each watch.
Water Breaker: Small cask used for carrying drinking water in a boat.
Waveson: Goods floating on surface of sea after a wreck.
Way: Vessel's inertia of motion through the water.
"Way Enough": Order given to a boat's crew when going alongside under oars. Denotes that boat has sufficient way, and that oars are to be placed inside the boat.
Weather Board: Windward side of a vessel.
Well Found: Said of a vessel that is adequately fitted, stored, and furnished.
Wetted Surface: The whole of the external surface of a vessel's outer plating that is in contact with the water in which she is floating.
Wharfinger: One who owns or manages a wharf.
Where Away?: Esquire addressed to a look-out man, demanding precise direction of an object he has sighted and reported.
Whistling for Wind: Based on a very old tradition that whistling at sea will cause a wind to rise.
Whistling Psalms to the Taffrail: Nautical phrase that means giving good advice that will not be taken.
White Horses: Fast-running waves with white foam crests.
Wholesome: Said of craft that behaves well in bad weather.
Wind Dog: An incomplete rainbow, or part of a rainbow. It is supposed to indicate approach of a storm.
Winding: Turning a vessel end for end between buoys, or along-side a wharf or pier.
Without Prejudice: Words used when a statement, comment, or action is not to be taken as implying agreement or disagreement, or affecting in any way a matter in dispute, or under consideration.
Wrack: To destroy by wave action. 2. Seaweed thrown ashore by sea.

WFTU - World Federation of Trade Unions
WPC - World Petroleum Congress
WTO - World Trade Organization




Yard Arm: That part of yard that lies between the lift and the outboard end of the yard.
Yaw: To lurch, or swing, to either side of an intended course.



Other glossaries - classic sea terms - shipping terms
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