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

"D" Terms

D'ye hear there?
Preliminary announcement made over the broadcast system to alert the ship's company just prior to an important type. The USN uses "now hear this".
Daily Changing Callsigns
A method of changing the voice call signs for warships sailing in formation. The change occurred at midnight, Zulu time (Greenwich Mean Time).
Damage control
The art of containing fire or water ingress to a ship in order to prevent its loss
Dan Buoy
A temporary marker buoy used during minesweeping operations to indicate the boundaries of swept paths, swept areas, known hazards, and other locations or reference points.
Dark and Dirty
Dark rum and cola
Darken ship
The defensive process of ensuring that no light whatsoever emanates from a ship at night
The last known position of a suspected enemy submarine.
A crane, often working in pairs and usually made of steel, used to lower things over the side of a ship, including launching a lifeboat over the side of a ship.
Davy Jones
The "sea devil". The nickname is likely a corruption of "Devil Jones". Though, some say it is from the original term "Duffy" (ghost) of Jonah. The term was originally used in the 1700s by Daniel Defoe and Tobias Smollett.
Davy Jones' Locker
The mythical place below the waves where all sunken ships, objects or perished sailors lay.
Moment at dawn where, from some point on the mast, a lookout can see above low lying mist which envelops the ship.
The daytime identifier of an aid to navigation presenting one of several standard shapes (square, triangle, rectangle) and colours (red, green, white, orange, yellow, or black).
A sailor that is employed on duties requiring normal working hours, therefore they do not stand round the clock watches as the remainder of the Ships' Company.
Days and a Wake-up
When a sailor is counting down the days to an event he might use this counting down term. Example: If a sailor was posted off the ship five days, he might refer to it as "four days and a wake-up."
Destroyer, Helicopter carrying.
Dead Ahead
Exactly ahead, directly ahead, directly in front.
Dead Ends (Dead Men)
Rope ends hanging from masts and yardarms aloft.
Dead Head
The resistance of a magnetic compass to swinging back and forth excessively.
Dead in the Water
Not moving. Uused only when a vessel is afloat and neither tied up nor anchored.
Dead Marine
An empty beverage bottle or can.
Dead Men
Rope ends hanging from aloft.
Dead Reckoning
The process of determining a vessel's position using only knowledge of a point of departure, vessel's speed, elapsed time and course steered. Originally, dead was spelled "ded" for "deduced".
Hinged metal flap which can be lowered and clamped over a scuttle or outside light in order to darken ship.
1. A wooden part (vertical timbers or planking) of the centerline structure of a boat, usually between the sternpost and amidships. It is used to fill the spaces where, owing to the shape of the vessel, the floor-timbers have to be discontinued.
2. A member of the Ship's Company that fills no purpose.
Death by Powerpoint
An overly long, excruciatingly boring class or presentation that makes overuse of said program.
Debarcation or Disembarkation
The process of leaving a ship or aircraft, or removing goods from a ship or aircraft.
The floor. On a ship, any horizontal structural surface is called a deck.
Deck Ape
A boatswain.
Deck Ape
A member of the Boatswain trade.
A person whose job involves aiding the deck supervisor in berthing, anchoring, maintenance, and general evolutions on deck.
The ceiling. The under-side of the deck above.
Decks Awash
A situation in which the deck of the vessel is partially or wholly submerged, possibly as a result of excessive listing or a loss of buoyancy.
To formally take a naval vessel out of active service, after which the vessel is said to be out of commission or decommissioned. It must be noted, in Commonwealth navies, such as the RCN, the correct term to be used is 'Paid Off'.
Deep Six
1. Generally, the ocean.
2. To throw an object overboard.
(RN) Term for a Submariner.
A summary court-martial, presided over by the Executive Officer or Commanding Officer.
NATO codeword for depth in meters.
A fine levied for not unloading a ship on time.
Direct Entry Officer.
Departure with Dignity
A program of suggested milestones and events for retiring individuals.
Depot Ship
A ship which acts as a mobile or fixed base for other ships and submarines at a naval base.
A ship, abandoned by her crew, but still afloat.
A lifting device composed of one mast or pole and a boom or jib which is hinged freely at the bottom.
Slang for the popular WW2 port of Londonderry.
A type of fast and maneuverable small warship introduced in the 1890s to protect capital ships from torpedo boat attack. Originally "torpedo boat destroyer".
Destroyer escort
A smaller, lightly armed warship built in large numbers during World War II. Employed primarily for anti-submarine warfare, but also provided some protection against aircraft and smaller surface ships.
Detailed off
Told to go and do something. Given orders.
Distinctive Environmental Uniform. This term originated in the late-1980s when the Navy, Army and Air Force received distinctive uniforms, rather that the green uni-bags they had been currently wearing.
Devil dodger
A naval padre
Devil Dodger
A naval padre.
Devil Seam
The devil was possibly a slang term for the garboard seam, hence "between the devil and the deep blue sea" being an allusion to keel hauling.
Devil to Pay
In the days of sail, paying the devil was a term for sealing the devil seam. It was a difficult and unpleasant job.
Dhobey Dust
Laundry detergent.
Dhobey Dust
Laundry detergent.
Dhobey or Dhobeying
Sailor's term for clean laundry. It was originally a British Army term, and transferred to the RCN via the Royal Navy. It comes from the Hindu word dhob, meaning "washing".
The generic name of a number of traditional sailing vessels with one or more masts with lateen sails used in the Red Sea and Indian Ocean region, typically weighing 300 to 500 tons, with a long, thin hull. They are trading vessels primarily used to carry heavy items, like fruit, fresh water or merchandise. Crews vary from about thirty to around twelve, depending on the size of the vessel.
Dial a Sailor
A system that was occasionally employed in certain friendly ports where civilians would fill out contact cards that invited visiting sailors out for dates. A wide variety of fun could be had through this system.
Dib; Dibby Dab
A common name (mainly used by members of the Engineering branch) given as an insult to members of other trades. It was originally a name given to an Ordinary Seaman Stokers who's only job in the Engine Room or Boiler Room was to wipe up oil leaks off the deck.
Dickey Front
(RN) The flap in the front of the traditional sailor's trousers.
Nickname for anyone with the surname of Bird.
Dicky run
A quiet and uneventful visit, or run ashore.
Different Ships Different Splices
A nautical way to say that there is always more than one side to an argument.
A type of small boat, often carried or towed as a ship's boat by a larger vessel.
1. To lower temporarily; to pass under.
2. To lower a sonar transducer into the water from a hovering helicopter.
3. To fail a course.
Dip the Ensign
To render and acknowledge passing honors from a merchant ship to a naval ship, by temporarily lowering the ship's ensign.
Dip the Hawser
A method of placing multiple berthing hawsers on a bollard so that either vessel may remove theirs first.
To be reverted in rank. Demoted.
Directional Light
A navigational light illuminating a sector or very narrow angle and intended to mark a safe direction to be followed.
Disc Over Y
The tounge-in-cheek nickname for HMCS Discovery, a Naval Reserve Division located in Vancouver, BC. Derived from the ship's badge, which is a rebus of a golden "disc" hovering over the letter "Y".
Dispatch Boat
A vessel ranging in size from a small boat to a large ship tasked to carry military dispatches from ship to ship, from ship to shore, or, occasionally, from shore to shore.
The weight of water displaced by the immersed volume of a ship's hull, exactly equivalent to the weight of the whole ship.
A rumour. A "No Shit Dit" is a rumour that has been verified as being true. "Bad Dit" is a rumour that has been verified as bogus.
To throw away.
Ditty Bag
A small cloth bag with drawstring closure used to hold toiletry articles.
Ditty Box
A lockable wooden container, often elaborately carved or embellished, it was where a sailor kept his most prized or unusual possessions.
Ditty Box
A lockable wooden container, often elaborately carved or embellished, it was where a sailor kept his most prized or unusual possessions.
Dive Planes
Horizontal surfaces on a submarine used to control the dive angle. Usually there are two pairs of planes, mounted on bow and stern, or on the sail and stern.
Divisional Officer
An officer assigned to look after a Seaman's welfare.
A formal parade held on special occasions ranging from Church Divisions to Admiral's Divisions.
Dead In the Water.
Dixie Cup
A USN sailor's white hat. Also known as a "Dog Dish".
Department of National Defence
1. Duty Officer.
2. Divisional Officer.
1. A fixed structure attached to shore to which a vessel is secured when in port, generally synonymous with jetty, pier and wharf.
2. The act of tying up at a jetty or wharf.
A naval base or a facility where ships or boats are maintained and repaired.
Dockyard matey
Traditional nickname for non-navy personnel working in the dockyard.
Canvas or fabric weather screen on an exposed part of the ship, such as the bridge. Also the term for decorative fabric coverings on the sides of the brow.
Dog Box
A danger area within which units may interfere with or be endangered by ASW torpedoes.
Dog Robbers
Refers to civilian clothes. Usually, it specifically refers to a sports jacket and tie.
Dog Watch
A short watch period, generally half the usual time (e.g. a two-hour watch rather than a four-hour one. In the RCN they are named the "First Dog" and the "Second Dog" and they run from 1600 to 1800 and 1800 to 2000. Initially named "dodge watch" as it allowed seamen to escape or dodge standing the same watch every day.
1. A slang term for a raised portion of a ship's deck. A doghouse is usually added to improve headroom below or to shelter a hatch.
2. Can be used as a term for a small cabin or compartment accessible from the upper deck.
Regions of light and variable winds near the equator.
A structure consisting of a number of piles driven into the seabed or riverbed as a marker.
Dolphin Code
A submariners code.
The common name for a submariners qualification badge worn on the uniform.
Done with Mirrors
Something presented very cleverly.
A closure between two compartments on the same deck.
A shallow-draft, lightweight boat, about 5 to 7 metres long, with high sides, a flat bottom and sharp bows. Traditionally used as fishing boats, both in coastal waters and in the open sea.
Implies the acquisition of a venereal disease.
The practice of loading smooth-bore cannon with two cannon-balls.
Down to the Short Strokes
Nearly done; almost finished.
A vessel traveling downstream.
A line used to control either a signal flag, a mobile spar, or the shape of a sail. A downhaul can also be used to retrieve a flag back on deck.
To put out a light or fire.
In the past days of the RCN a sailor was drafted to a ship. Today the term used is "posted".
To pull along the seabed to recover something.
Dragon Tattoo
A tattoo that is worn by a sailor that has served in China. A golden dragon means the sailor has crossed the International Date Line.
A nickname for an extremely thin person. Also "Snaky" and "Voice-pipe sweeper".
Draught or Draft
The depth of a ship's keel below the waterline.
A historical type of battleship designed with an "all-big-gun" armament layout in which the ship's primary gun power resided in a primary battery of its largest guns intended for use at long range.
Dress ship
To string International Code of Signals flags, arranged at random (not spelling a message), from masthead to masthead (if the vessel has more than one mast) and then down to the quarterdeck. Done on a ship in harbour as a sign of celebration of a national, local, or personal anniversary, event, holiday, or occasion.
Dressing Down
A verbal reprimand.
Drift Factor
A measure of reliability of a sailor. If they have a high drift factor, they can't be relied upon.
A class of ship used by the Canadian navy in WWI. It is actually a type of fishing boat designed to catch herring in a long drift net, long used in the Netherlands and Great Britain.
To complain.
A device to slow a boat down in a storm so that it does not speed excessively down the slope of a wave and crash into the next one. It is generally constructed of heavy flexible material in the shape of a cone. See also sea anchor.
Drop Track
Remove a specified track number from the tactical display.
To drench or saturate.
Davit recovery position. A single davit that is used to recover small equipment or possibly a rescue swimmer.
Drumhead service
A religious service where fallen comrades are remembered and mourned.
Drummed Out
Describes someone who leaves the military by being forcibly released. Derived from the day when soldiers who were convicted of serious crimes were "drummed out" by an actual drummer that played a cadence while they exited in disgrace.
Excessive alcohol consumption.
Dry Canteen
A canteen that does not serve alcohol, rather it serves soda and snacks. Usual patrons are of the underage set. The opposite of a "Wet Canteen".
A narrow basin or vessel used for the construction, maintenance, and repair of ships, boats, and other watercraft that can be flooded to allow a load to be floated in, then drained to allow that load to come to rest on a dry platform.
Date-Time Group. Part of the header of a message which indicates the date, time, and timezone of the message's origin.
1. Dessert
2. Indicates that something is not working
Working uniform.
1. Loose packing material used to protect a ship's cargo from damage during transport.
2. Personal baggage.
A nickname for someone with the last name of Miller.
Dutch Courage
A term for bolstered heroism. Derived from the Netherlands Navy where schnapps and gin was served to the crew prior to battle.
Duty Watch
The specific watch done by some members of a ship's company when the ship is secured alongside.

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Jackspeak of the Royal Canadian Navy
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