Author Topic: Abbreviations (non-weather)  (Read 12418 times)


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Abbreviations (non-weather)
« on: November 19, 2010, 04:54:22 am »

This list has been updated for use in Phase 3, USCG Arctic Ships.  If you have any additions or changes for this list, please post them in the Questions about Abbreviations topic.  There is also a very good list of WWII USN abbreviations online, and a list of abbreviations for Ranks and Rating of the US Navy which may be quite helpful.  The USCG (US Coast Guard) generally uses the same ranks and logs as the US Navy.

The old list for Phase 1 and 2 RN ships has a new home in the Editorial Office Archive, and is now also online for all to use thanks to Maikel.  See Miscellaneous: Known Abbreviations


These are some of the symbols we often find in the logs.  Since we can't add images to our transcriptions, we need to know what they mean in order to transcribe them.  This list should make things easier. 
~ - "illegible". Used by Old Weather transcribers to indicate an indecipherable letter, word or number.

96o 13' 26.4" N - an example of Longitude geographic coordinates. See Wikipedia article.  When transcribing, replace the symbols with spaces: 96 13 26.4N
  • o - Degrees of Arc. 360 degrees are the circumference of the Earth, varying in measured units of length depending on position on the globe.  This may also be written as a decimal, eliminating the need for the minutes' and seconds' numbers.
  • ' - Minutes of Arc. There are 60 minutes in one degree of arc.  This may also be written as a decimal, eliminating the need for the seconds' number. (Also see example nautical mile.)
  • " - Seconds of Arc.  There are 60 seconds in one minute of arc.

13' - an example of recording distance.
  • ' - Nautical miles. The nautical mile is a unit of length that is about one minute of arc of longitude along any meridian. Transcribe this as written.
2600x - an example of recording distance.
  • x - Yards. A unit of length equaling 3 feet or 0.9144 meters. Transcribe this as 'x'.

Φ or φ - Greek letter Phi - Average or mean position of sighting multiple or elongated objects.  Example: "Aasvogel's Kop φ 4404 feet mountain N3W" (center of flat topped mountain, South Africa)

Φ or φ - Greek letter Phi - In cartography and navigation, phi denotes latitude.

Λ or λ - Greek letter Lambda - In cartography and navigation, lambda denotes longitude.

- Abeam. Transcribe this as "abeam".
- Abeam port. Transcribe this as "abeam port".
- Abeam starboard. Transcribe this as "abeam starbd".

- Anchor(ed). (2 examples shown.)  Transcribe this as "anchor".
- Double anchored. Ship anchored with both port and starboard anchors (2 examples shown.)  Transcribe this as "double anchored".
+"age" - Anchorage. Transcribe this as "anchorage".  (Logs use just one symbol, not the two examples shown here.)
- Port Bower Anchor. Transcribe this as "port bower anchor".  (An example of fancy and extended use of the symbol, not common.)
- Starboard Bower Anchor. Transcribe this as "starb'd bower anchor".  (An example of fancy and extended use of the symbol, not common.)

- in range. Transcribe this as "in range".  A navigation term - juxtaposed like a gun-sight such that you know the ship is on a particular line of position. A common piloting technique. (per Kevin Wood)  Example:  "a/c SxW1/2W with bluff and stream in o-o".

- Moon, rise or set location. Usually used to identify a bearings point. Transcribe thirs as "moon".  The same symbol is used morning and evening.
- Sun, rise or set location. Usually used to identify a bearings point. Transcribe this as "sun".  The same symbol is used morning and evening.  The dotted circle alone (no horizon line) is also used as a noun; example: "Darken the ship at 'sun' set."  If used just before 'Lat' or 'Long', it would be read and transcribed as "solar".
Example of morning reading (sunrise):

Example of evening reading (sunset):

- Star. Usually used to identify a method of obtaining observed LatLong. Transcribe this as "star".  May also be shorthand for "starboard" as in "let go starboard anchor"  Example:

- Triangulation point. Usually used to identify a ship's position and attitude while at anchor. Transcribe this as "triangulation point".  There is a professional definition here in the forum.  Example:

0 - 9
1C - First Class Placed in front a an enlisted rating and indicating top status for that function, e.g. 1CWT is 1st-class Water Tender.

2C - Second Class Placed in front a an enlisted rating and indicating medium status for that function, e.g. 2CWT is 2nd-class Water Tender.

3C - Third Class Placed in front a an enlisted rating and indicating junior status for that function, e.g. 3CWT is 3rd-class Water Tender.

4C - Fourth Class Placed in front a an enlisted ranking; never seen on organization tables, but appeared in a log when a misbehaving 3rd class fireman was disciplined by losing a rate.

6 pdr - 6 pounder (gun) Example: Exercised guns crew at 6 pdr with common shell.

6" BL - 6 inch Breach Loading (cannon).

6 P.R.Q.F. - 6 Pounder Quick Firing (cannon).

(a) - after rating acting.

AB - Able-bodied Seaman.  A rank indicating skill level, one grade above Ordinary Seaman.  Established 1798; disestablished 1864.

abm. - Abeam.  Example: [HMS Caronia], [July 14, 1915]. "Georges Id. abm. Stopped."

a/c - alter course.  See also c.c. "change course".

AOL - Absent Over Leave. 

AWOL - Absent With Out Leave. 

Adm. - Admiral. 

AS - Apprentice Seaman  ; Changed from Apprentice 1904; changed to Seaman Recruit 1948.
AMC - Armed merchant cruiser (GB - RN hired merchant ship)

AG or ArmGrd - Armed Guard (RN and USN)

Aide - Aide of Survey.  A junior US Coast & Geodetic Survey commissioned rank (civilian, not military.)

Asst. - Assistant of Survey.  A senior US Coast & Geodetic Survey commissioned rank (civilian, not military.)

ATF - Auxiliary Ocean Tug, Fleet

AP - Armour/Armor Piercing . (Both RN and USN.)

BAT or BATSHIP. -  Battleship.

BatRon -  Battleship Squadron.

Bbl - barrel(s).

Bgs or Brg - bearing(s).

Bks. or Baks - Barracks

B.L.H., 3-inch (steel) 350 lbs. - Bomb Lance Harpoon (launcher)

BLR - Breech Loading Rifled (gun)

BM - Boatswain's Mate or Boatman's Mate; also called Coxswain.  Boatswain's mates train, direct, and supervise personnel in ship's maintenance duties in all activities relating to marlinspike, deck, boat seamanship, painting, upkeep of ship's external structure, rigging, deck equipment, and boats. (Wiki) Coxswains are in command of detached boats and their crews.  In use in 1775; established 1797. Pay grades 1c and 2c established 1893; pay grade 3c changed from Coxswain 1948.

BT - Boiler Technician; a naval rating specializing in boilers.  Boilermaker - Established 1869; changed to Machinist 2c and 3c 1884. Re-established 1884; changed to Boilermaker 1c and 2c 1921. Pay grade C established 1927; pay grade 3c established 1926; disestablished 1928. Re-established 1943; Boilermaker included in Boilerman 1948. Re-established in pay grades C and 1c 1956.


c/c or c.c. - course change.  See also a/c.

Capt. - Captain.

CG - Coast Guard.

CGOB - Coast Guard Operating Base.

COLA - Cost Of Living Allowance; the addition to one's base pay to cover costs of living in areas more expensive than what exists when living on most bases inside the United States.

Cols - Columns used when mentioning weather on the comment page, "Wind and weather as per cols."

Com'g - Commanding as in, "U.S.Schr."Yukon"  G.Bradford, Asst. com'g."

CONUS - CONtiguous United States, a.k.a. "the lower 48" - the area of the United States that is connected by land to other states.  It may or may not include the District of Columbia depending on context, but does not include Alaska which cannot be reached by land without traveling through a foreign country, Canada.  This is relevant when speaking travel or shipping costs and other issues.  See OCONUS.

COTP - Captain of Port (USCG)

CH - Coal Heaver Established 1842; changed to Coal Passer 1893.  (See CP and F)

CGD - Coast Guard District. 

CGDD or CGD/D - Coast Guard District Dispatch. 

CGDL or CGD/L - Coast Guard District Letter.  Normally Nth CGD is mentioned.

CM. - Court Martial, as in "CM prisoner left ship under escort).

CP - Coal Passer Changed from Coal Heaver 1893; changed to Fire 3c 1917.  (See CH and F)

CUS - Course.

COX or Cox'n - Coxswain.  Pronounced k'ks'n; The steersman of a boat; a petty officer who has charge of a boat and its crew. (Webster's Dictionary 1913) Changed from Cockswain 1865; changed to Boatswain's Mate 3c 1948.

C.P.O. - Chief Petty Officer.

CRM - Chief Water Tender; the highest ranked petty officer charged with maintaining boiler pressure in a ship's propulsion system. Paygrade C established 1903; included in Boilerman 1948.

CWT - Chief Water Tender; the highest ranked petty officer charged with maintaining boiler pressure in a ship's propulsion system. Paygrade C established 1903; included in Boilerman 1948.


DD - Destroyer.
DD - Dishonorable Discharge.
DD - Drydock .

DR or DR Post - Dead Reckoning or Dead Reckoning Position. 

Disemb - Disembark(ed).

DOD - Died of Disease.

DWA - Died of Wounds from Action with the Enemy.

D.S.M. - Distinguished Service Medal 


Exp - Experience 
Exp - Express (boiler) 


F - Fireman.  Established 1842; pay grades 1c and 2c established 1847; pay grade 3c established 1917. Re-established as Fireman 1948. Fireman 3c changed to Fireman Recruit 1948; Fireman 2c changed to Fireman Apprentice 1948.

FADM - Fleet Admiral.

fath or fms or fthms - Fathoms; a unit of length used especially for measuring the depth of water.  There are 2 yards (6 feet) in a fathom.


GC - Gun Captain

GD - Guard

GDP - Gun Director Pointer

GM or "Guns" - Gunner's Mate Established 1797; pay grade C Established 1864; pay grades 1c, 2c, and 3c established 1893.

Grt or Gr or Gt - Great

GUN - Gunboat

Gun - Gunner


HBMS - Her/His Britannic Majesty's Ship

HBS - Harbor Boat Service

H & G Engineer - Hydrographic and Geodetic Engineer; a US Coast & Geodetic Survey commissioned rank (civilian, not military.)

HECP - Harbor Entrance Control Post.

HE (shell) - High Explosive. 

HPF - Harbour Patrol Fleet

HD or H/D - Headquarters Dispatch.

HL or H/L - Headquarters Letter.

Hydros - Hydrometer. - used to measure the density (salinity) of sea water.


Id or Is. or Isd - Island.  "Isd" is typed Is'd

Insp - Inspector.
INSP - Inspection.

inst. - instante mense.  Latin for "this month". Example USS Concord: "during the firing on the 29'th inst. the gun did not return fully to battery"

Instn - Instruction.

Instr - Instructor.


JoD - Jack of Dust.  Established 1876; disestablished 1893.


Kn(s) or Kt(s) - Knot(s); speed in nautical miles/hour (1 knot equals approx. 1 nautical mile equals approx. one minute of arc of latitude, exactly 1,852 meters, and approx. 6,076 feet per hour).


la. - larboard; another term for the 'port' side of the ship.  The left side of a ship or aircraft to someone who is aboard and facing the bow or nose.

LDS or lds - Landsman; a naval rating below that of seaman, indicating little experience at sea.

LT or L/T - Left tangent.  Used in recording bearings or sightings.

Lt. - Light

LV - Light Vessel (an anchored boat that acts as the areas light house)  Example: Ambrose L.V. aided navigation in front of New York harbor.

LT or Lt. - Lieutenant

LCDR or LtCom - Lieutenant Commander

Lt (jg) - Lieutenant (Junior Grade)

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« Last Edit: April 10, 2017, 08:06:21 pm by Randi »

Janet Jaguar

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Re: Abbreviations (non-weather)
« Reply #1 on: July 27, 2011, 05:37:52 am »

(m) or (M) - Following a sighted bearing, magnetic.  RN: unknown if used by USN

M - Merchant Marine Reserve

MA or MAA - Master at Arms; the senior CPO and responsible for all discipline aboard, a very important man indeed.  Established 1797; disestablished 1921.

Mag - Magnetic.  "Relative to Earth's North Magnetic Pole."

Mid. - Midshipman.  Established 1797.

m - Minutes

MC - USN officer designation for Medical Corps

MM - Machinist, Machinist Mate; rating responsible for the continuous operation of the many engines, compressors, gears, and other types of machinery onboard ships and shore installations. They are responsible for the ship's steam propulsion and auxiliary equipment and the outside (deck) machinery. (Wiki)  Machinist - Established 1866; disestablished 1880. Re-established 1884; changed to Machinist C, 1c, and 2c 1895. Machinist C - Changed from Machinist 1895; changed to Chief Machinist's Mate 1904. Machinist's Mate C, 1c, & 2c - Changed from Machinist C, 1c, and 2c 1904.

MMR - Mercantile Marine Reserve (British); also the wholly American Merchant Marine Reserve.

MV or M/V - Merchant Vessel. Example: "Stopped, boarded Danish M/V Falstria"


(N) - Navigating Officer indicated when after officer's rank. 

NAF - Naval Air Facility.

NAS - Naval Air Station.

NOB - Naval Operating Base.

NSD - Naval Supply Depot.

Nav - Navy or Naval or Navigation(al). 

Navig - Navigation; Navigator. 

Nite - Night.


OB - Operating Base or Operational Base. 

Obs. - Observed. 

OCONUS - Outside the CONtiguous United States; in other words, Alaska, Hawaii and all overseas American territories.  It may or may not include the District of Columbia, depending on context.  This is relevant when speaking travel or shipping costs and other issues.  See CONUS.

OD - Officer-of-the-Day

OG - Officer-of-the-Guard (Army)

OIC or OinC - Officer-in-Charge

OOD - Officer-of-the-Deck

ORD - Ordnance.  Heavy weapons of warfare; cannon, or great guns, mortars, and howitzers; artillery; sometimes, a general term for all weapons, ammunition, and appliances used in war. (Webster's Dictionary 1913.)

OS - Ordinary Seaman.  Established 1797; changed to Seaman 2c 1917.


PC - Civilian Personnel Division. (USCG)
PC - Patrol Craft.
PC or PClk - Pay Clerk. Paymaster's Steward - Established 1861; changed to Paymaster's Writer 1867. Paymaster's Writer - changed to Paymaster's Yeoman 1c, 2c, 3c 1870. Paymaster's Yeoman - disestablished 1893.  (The 'Pay Clerk' recorded in our logs is apparently slang.)

PCE - Patrol Craft, Escort.

PG - Patrol Vessel, Gunboat

(PH) - placed after a wind direction Pilot House compass; Vessel rolling so as to render it unsafe to stand on bridge so all courses in future are by the Pilot House compass.

POD - Place of Discharge.

POFE - Place of First Enlistment.

(Pro) - placed after a rating Provisional.

PT - Patrol Vessel, Motor Torpedo Boat.

PTB - Powers That Be.  A respectful but deliberately vague nomenclature to indicate anyone with authority in a situation; subtly different from leaders who rise to the top through charisma, not position.

PY - Patrol Vessel, Yacht.

PB - Port Bower (anchor).  According to 1928 Websters: bower anchor = bower = an anchor carried at the bow.

PGC - Per Gyrocompass.  A gyrocompass is similar to a gyroscope. It is a compass that can find true north by using an electrically powered, fast-spinning gyroscope wheel and frictional or other forces in order to exploit basic physical laws and the rotation of the Earth. (  (See also PSC, PSTC)

P.L. - Patent Log - A log that is pulled behind the ship to measure speed.

P.O. - Petty Officer
P.O. - Port Officer
P.O. - Post Office

PSC - Per Standard Compass. - always magnetic.    (See also PGC, PSTC)

PSTC - Per Steering Compass.  (See also PGC, PSC)


QM or Quart - Quartermaster. Webster's 1913 Dictionary: 
1.  (Mil.) An officer whose duty is to provide quarters, provisions, storage, clothing, fuel, stationery, and transportation for a regiment or other body of troops, and superintend the supplies.
2.  (Naut.) A petty officer who attends to the helm, binnacle, signals, and the like, under the direction of the master. Established 1798 (for Frigates); established 1813. Pay grade C established 1864; pay grades 1c, 2c, and 3c established 1893.

Qtr(s) - Quarter(s).


RA or Rear Adm - Rear Admiral.

RAR - Radio Acoustic Ranging. Developed in 1923, RAR was the first non-visual navigation system. It combined velocity of sound in water with radio to obtain fix. (NOAA Photo Library)

R or RM or RT - Radioman or Radio Technician. Radioman - Established 1921. Established 1923; changed to Electronics Technician's Mate 1945.

Rds - Rounds (of ammunition). Example: Gunners storeroom found to have been broken into. 1 revolver No49278 + 80 Rds ammunition stolen.

RT or R/T - Right tangent.  Used in recording bearings or sightings.

Recd - received  Typed Rec'd Example: "Recd 85 tons coal."

Red - Reduced. 

revs. or rev. or revns - Revolutions per minute. 

RKO - Range Keeper Operator

R.O.B.E. - Rung Off Both Engines.  This was the time of those super things with a big brass handle that sent a visual and a bell signal to the Engine Room.  May also be Ran On Both Engines.


S or SN - Seaman. Such as S1 (Seaman 1st class). Established 1797; changed to Seaman 1c and 2c 1921. Re-established from Seaman 1c and Bugler 1c 1948; Seaman 2c changed to Seaman Apprentice 1948.

SA - Special Artificer. (before 1948)

SG - Seaman Gunner. Established 1869; disestablished 1921.

SAA - Small Arms Amunition.

S/C - Set Course; Example: "S/C N58E"

SOP - Standard Operating Procedure
SOP - Senior Officer Present

SOPA - Senior Officer Present Afloat

SOP(A) - Senior Officer Present (Ashore)
Shkl(s) - Shackle(s); A nautical unit used for measuring the lengths of the cables and chains (especially anchor chains), equal to 15 fathoms, 90 feet or 27.432 meters.

Stbd or Stbd - Starboard side of ship.  Example:  From HMS Foxglove log for 14/12/1921 - 1200  "Leave to Stbd watch from 1700 to 0700."

sch - schooner

s'l - sail.  Also incorporated in tops'l, t.g.s'l (topgallant sail), st'ys'l (staysail), mains'l, etc.  See

S/m - Submarine.

S.S. - Steamship.

S.T or S/T - Steam Trawler or Steam Tug


(T) - Following a sighted bearing, true. Example: N 85 E (T)
(T) - Following rank, temporary.  Example: Ensign (T)

TB - Torpedo Boat; (German); corresponds to US DE (destroyer)

TC - Training Class; "Training class at 1pm"

TG - Topgallant sail.  One of several square-rigged sails 

TM - Torpedoman's Mate. Changed from Torpedoman 1942.

TME - Torpedoman's Mate (Electrical).

TORP - Torpedo; Torpedoman. Torpedoman - Established 1921; changed to Torpedoman's Mate 1942.

Treas'y - Treasury as in "Treasury agent."


USAT -  United States Army Transport; Army owned or allocated troop and cargo ships over 1,000 gross tons, in WW2 1,557 ships.  See

USAHS -  United States Army Hospital Ships ; Army owned or allocated hospital ships over 1,000 gross tons, in WW2 33 ships.  See

USRCS -  United States Revenue Cutter Service; reporting to the Treasury Dept., 1790-1915; first armed fleet of the US government and oldest continuous (never disbanded) Armed Service.

USCG -  United States Coast Guard; a merger of the USRCS with the US Life-Saving Service (coastal life boat service, rescuing crew from wrecks); the Coast Guard can conduct military operations under the Department of the Navy or directly for the President in accordance with Title 14 USC 1?3.  The US Lighthouse Service was added in 1939 and the Navigation and Steamboat Inspection Service in 1942. (Currently under Dept. of Homeland Security, with possible transfer to the President directly, or to the Navy in war.)

USN - United States Navy.

USS - United States Ship. (USN vessel)

USRC - United States Revenue Cutter. (USRCS vessel)

USCGC - United States Coast Guard Cutter. (USCG vessel)


Var or Vble - Variable.  Example: [HMS Caronia], [July 27, 1915]. Weather wind direction.

VA - Vice Admiral

V or VOL - Volunteer; (U.S. Naval Reserve)

Vsl - Vessel 


WO - Warrant Officer.

W.R. - Ward Room or Wardroom  - the area serving as living and dining quarters and lounge for all commissioned officers except the commanding officer.

W/T - Water Tight (doors).
W/T - Water Tender (vessel).


##x - yards distance.  Written "any number with a superscript 'x'."  Bunting Tosser: "I recall from my time at junior school that the symbols for distance were x for yards, ' for feet and " for inches."


YN - Yeoman or Ship's Yeoman.  An enlisted rating; Yeomen perform Administrative and Clerical work.  (Wiki) Established 1835; disestablished 1884. Re-established from Ship's Yeoman 1893.

YP - Yard Patrol.  Boats used to patrol the harbors and service ships.


ZZ - Zigzagging.

« Last Edit: January 11, 2017, 03:01:22 pm by Randi »