Jackspeak of the Royal Canadian Navy

Jackspeak: Certain words or terminology that are commonly used in the Canadian Navy.

The Canadian Navy has it's own terminology and slang that is still evolving to this day. Much of the language used is still derived from the Royal Navy, although as Canadians many local customs and slang have come about.

This list was compiled over the years and was finally published in 2014 as "Jackspeak of the Royal Canadian Navy (2015 edition)" In 2018, a completely revised 2nd edition will be released. The 2018 edition features expanded and revised definitions, many more example sentences, and over 400 new terms.

Index: 0-9 A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

"R" Terms

R&Q
Rations and Quarters.
R&R
Rest and recuperation.
Rabbit
Government property taken or converted for private use.
Racetrack
A rectangular route that a warship might sail when remaining in station at a certain point in the ocean. Also see "Penalty Box".
Rack
A sailor's bunk
Rack Monster
Someone who logs more hours asleep (in their rack) than awake.
Rack Time
Quality time, asleep in a bunk.
Racket
Electronic Warfare term meaning an intercepted electromagnetic signal.
Radar
Acronym for RAdio Detection And Ranging. An electronic system designed to transmit radio signals and receive reflected images of those signals from a target in order to determine the bearing and distance to the target.
Radar Reflector
A fixture attached to a vessel, or incorporated into the design of certain aids to navigation, to enhance their ability to reflect radar energy. The goal is to be more visible to radar systems. Often seen as a metal diamond-shaped feature on a sailboat's mast or a buoy.
Radhaz
Radio hazard. A term seen on signage applied to radar masts and communication antennas to warn sailors of potential radiation hazards.
Railroad Tracks
Double creases on badly pressed pants... an error that will always be pointed out at recruit school or fleet school.
Rain Locker
A shower stall.
Rake
1. To lean or incline from the upright.
2. Range To layout rope or cable.
Rang Eight Bells
To pass away. Eight bells traditionally signifies the end of a watch.
Range Lights
A night-time navigational aid that consists of two lights in a line marking a channel. The correct course to steer to get through the channel is an extension of a line formed by the lights. Usually the front range light is the lower of the two, and nearer to the mariner using the range. The rear light is higher and further from the mariner. All a mariner has to do is keep the lines in line, with the rear light directly on top of the front light, and they can assume that they are safely in the middle of the channel.
Rank and File
A term for the average seaman who is in the lower ranks. Comes from the description for a military formation, where a rank is a row and a file is a column.
RAS
Replenishment at Sea. The transfer of supplies, fuel, and munitions from one ship to another while at sea and underway.
Rat Guard
Circular or conical metal plates attached to a ship's berthing hawsers (mooring lines) to prevent rats getting aboard. In some cases they also prevent sailors from sneaking ashore by climbing down the hawsers.
Rating
Commonly an enlisted member of a country's Navy.
Ratpack
A ration pack, or more commonly referred to as an IMP (Individual Meal Pack), which are consumed by sailors when they are on exercise or in the field. Also sometime referred to as MRE (Meal Ready to Eat), a term borrowed from the US military.
Rats Rim
An alternate expression to "rat's ass", used in an attempt to make the statement even more colloquial. eg. "I don't give a rat's rim what he said!". More common on the east coast.
Rattle (in the)
To be in trouble. On report.
RCN
Royal Canadian Navy.
Re-Flash
The reigniting of a fire, especially if the fire had just been extinguished and had not been overhauled or cooled sufficiently.
Re-up
Reenlist.
Ready Aye Ready
"Ready Aye Ready" is the motto of the Canadian Navy. It implies that the Canadian Navy is always "ready".
Ready to Answer Bells
A report from the Engineering Department that the main propulsion is ready for engine orders.
Real Admiral *New
An oft-used nickname for a sailor's spouse.
Rear Party
The group of seamen that stay behind after a port visit, or an exercise, in order to properly close any logistical matters.
Receive Pay on Caps
Traditionally, a sailor's pay was placed on his cap, which was held out toward the paymaster. This was practiced so that there were no mistakes, and everyone could see the amount paid.
Recon
Reconnaissance.
Recreational Trawler
A pleasure boat built in the style of a trawler.
Red Duster
The Red Ensign or "Red Duster" is a flag that originated in the early 17th century as an English ensign flown by the Royal Navy "Red Fleet". Later it was adopted by the Merchant Navy. It is all red, with the union jack in the upper corner.
Red Force
Opposing force in war games. See also "Blue Force". Note that during the Cold War the term used was "Orange Force".
Red Lead
1. Reddish brown paint, used as a primer.
2. Stewed tomatoes often served for breakfast. When stewed tomatoes are served with bacon it is affectionately called "Red Lead and Cap Tallies".
Red Sea Rig
Dress for a formal dinner in short sleeve white shirt and dress pants with a cummerbund. Red Sea rig is a RN term but it has been adopted by most navies as a wardroom order of dress. It was traditionally used in the days before A/C and represents a relaxed form of wardroom dress. Traditionally there was no temperature hot enough to cause officers to relax their dress. But one exception was made and it was in the Red Sea which was far enough away from England and sufficiently remote that a relaxation could be afforded.
Red-to-Red
A passage of two vessels moving in the opposite direction on their port sides, so called because the red navigation light on one of the vessels faces the red light on the other vessel.
Reef
1. To temporarily reduce the area of a sail exposed to the wind, usually to guard against adverse effects of strong wind or to slow the vessel. ie. Reef the sails.
2. Rock or coral, possibly only revealed at low tide.
Reef Knot
A joining knot used to tie two rope ends of equal size.
Reeve
To thread a line through a block and tackle.
Refit
To repair and renew a piece of equipment, or a ship.
Regatta
A competition consisting of a series of boat races.
Relative Bearing
A bearing relative to the direction of the ship; the clockwise angle between the ship's direction and an object. See also absolute bearing and bearing.
Relative Wind
The direction and velocity of the wind as observed from the deck of a moving vessel. See "Wind over the Deck".
Relish Suit
A common term for the CADPAT combat dress.
Remove Headress
A parade order that marks the beginning of prayers.
Replenishment at Sea
See RAS.
Requestmen
Personnel appearing formally before the Executive Officer or Commanding Officer with a request.
Retread
Someone who is doing a job for a second time, or taking a course for the second time.
RFP
Regular Force Puke. A response to a Regular Force sailor that might be issued by a Naval Reservist who has been called a "Shad".
RHIB
Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat. Pronounced RIB.
RHIP
Short for "Rank Hath Its Privileges".
Ricky Tick
(US Marines) As soon as possible; quickly. Often used following the word "most". Example: "You'd better get ready Most Ricky Tick!"
Rig for Pig
To darken the lights of the mess in preparation for a good old-fashioned party. The term implies that the partiers will likely get drunk and start acting like pigs.
Rig For Red
Used in submarines, to ensure all interior lighting is red and of low intensity so as to preserve night vision. See "Darken Ship".
Rig of the Day
The uniform to be worn for the day or for a specific activity as laid down in routine orders or by announcement to the ship's company.
Rig Run
To go ashore in uniform, when in other than home port.
Rigging
The system of masts and lines on ships and other sailing vessels.
Right Out'of'er
A term to describe someone who is very, very drunk.
Rigol
The rim, or "eyebrow", above a scuttle.
Ring Knocker
A Royal Military College graduate.
Ring Piece
An anus.
Ring the Bell
He/she who rings the bell in a mess, buys a round of drinks for all the rest.
Rip Rap
A man-made pile of rocks and rubble often surrounding an off-shore lighthouse or as a base for an aid to navigation.
Rise and Shine!
A poem recited in the minutes after wakey-wakey, usually in a faint attempt to get the sleepy sailors to rise out of their racks. "Wakey, wakey, rise and shine! You've had yours and I've had mine. Hands off cocks, on socks, its breakfast time!" Historically, the term was "rouse and shine".
RMC
Royal Military College.
Roads
A sheltered area outside a harbour where a ship can safely anchor, also known as a roadstead. Examples: "Royal Roads", "Roosevelt Roads".
Rock (The)
1. Newfoundland.
2. Gibraltar. Sometimes, shortened to "Gib".
Rocket
A letter or memo of reprimand.
ROE
Rules of Engagement.
Roger
An acknowledgement that a message has been received and understood.
Rogue Wave
A surprisingly large wave for a given sea state.
Rogue's Yarn
Yarn of a different twist and colour inserted into the cordage of rope or line of the Royal Navy to identify the maker (in case of defect), or to identify origin if stolen. Each manufacturer used a unique yarn colour.
Rogues Salute
The firing of a single gun at colours on the day of a court martial. Formerly this was a signal to the fleet for all hands to muster on deck to witness yardarm execution. As well, during a keel-hauling, one shot was fired at the very end of the keel-hauling, perhaps to astound and confound the victim.
Roll
A ship's motion rotating from side to side, about the fore-aft/longitudinal axis.
Roll Along
The chorus of the song "Wavy Navy" sung by thousands of members of the RCNVR during WWII and continuing into the post-war years.
Roll-on/Roll-off
A vessel designed to carry wheeled cargo that can drive on and off the ship on its own wheels. Abbreviated as "RORO" or "Ro-Ro".
Romper
A ship that has moved significantly ahead of its convoy, and is unable to rejoin.
Rooster and Pig Tattoos
When done on the ankles they are to prevent a sailor from drowning. These animals were originally carried on most ships in wooden crates. When a ship went down the crates would float and then catch currents and wash ashore with the other debris from the ship, making the pigs and roosters often the only souls to survive a shipwreck. When a sailor has a tattoo of a pig on the left knee, it was a symbol for safety at sea. A tattoo of a rooster on the right foot means that the sailor never loses a fight. These tattoos were also symbols of prosperity, as they were meant to ensure that sailors would always have ham and eggs, and never go hungry.
Rope Tattoo
A tattoo that is worn by a sailor that is, or was, a deckhand.
Rosie
Short for the USN naval air station at Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico. Recently it has been closed, but the memory of Canadian Sailors painting ship at that locale will live forever.
Round Bottomed Chest
A duffle bag.
Round Turn
To wind a line or hawser around a bollard, or set of bits, in order to gain advantage via friction.
Round-Down
The rounded bow of the original St. Laurent Class of destroyers.
Roundly
Rapidly or fast.
Rounds
A complete walk around the ship, checking on all spaces. The Officer of the Watch along with the senior non-commissioned officer would do rounds every evening.
Routine Orders
A notice, usually issued daily, that displays important information for the day such as duty personnel and ship's routine.
Royal Baby
Usually the fattest member of King Neptune's court during the traditional crossing the line ceremony. Pollywogs are asked to kiss his belly, which is usually smeared with oil or salad dressing.
RPC
Request the Pleasure of your Company, seen on an official invitation to a naval event.
RPO
Regulating Petty Officer. Responsible to the Coxswain for the application of discipline and routine.
RTU
Returned To Unit. What happens to a sailor if he/she "dips" a course.
Rubber Freak
A member of the Diving trade.
Rubbing Strake
An extra plank fitted to the outside of the hull, usually at deck level, to protect the topsides from rubbing against jetties or other ships.
Rudder
A steering device which can be placed aft, externally relative to the keel or compounded into the keel.
Rules of the Road
The International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea are published by the International Maritime Organization and set out, among other things, the "rules of the road" or navigation rules to be followed by ships and other vessels at sea to prevent collisions between two or more vessels.
Rum Runner
A slang term for a civilian speedboat.
Rumour Control
The fictitious department in every ship that has the auspicious role in quelling rumours.
Run
1. In a foreign port, to head out on the town and have as much fun as is possible. ie. " a run ashore"
2. To press disciplinary charges against a sailor ie. "To run him".
Run Ashore
An off-ship visit in a foreign port which usually involves liquor.
Run Down
To ram, by accident or purposely.
Running Rigging
Rigging used to manipulate sails, spars, etc. in order to control the movement of the ship. The opposite of "Standing Rigging".
RV
Rendezvous.

If you have any input to this list, please feel free to get involved. Submit your feedback through our contact form

Buy the Book!
Jackspeak of the Royal Canadian Navy
Buy the Book!