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. Symbols
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
13' - an example of recording distance
- 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.
2600x - 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.
Φ or φ - Greek letter Phi
- x - Yards. A unit of length equaling 3 feet or 0.9144 meters. Transcribe this as 'x'.
- 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 (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, FleetAP - Armour/Armor Piercing
. (Both RN and USN.)B BAT or BATSHIP. - Battleship.BatRon - Battleship Squadron.Bbl - barrel(s)
.Bgs or Brg - bearing(s)
.Bks. or Baks - BarracksB.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/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.
th 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.D DD - Destroyer
...OR...DD - Dishonorable Discharge
...OR...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 E Exp - Experience
...OR...Exp - Express (boiler) F 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.G GC - Gun CaptainGD - GuardGDP - Gun Director PointerGM 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 - GreatGUN - GunboatGun - GunnerH HBMS - Her/His Britannic Majesty's ShipHBS - Harbor Boat ServiceH & 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 FleetHD or H/D - Headquarters Dispatch.HL or H/L - Headquarters Letter.Hydros - Hydrometer.
- used to measure the density (salinity) of sea water.I Id or Is. or Isd - Island.
" is typed Is'dInsp - Inspector.
...OR...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.J JoD - Jack of Dust
. Established 1876; disestablished 1893.K Kn(s) or Kt(s) - Knot(s)
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).L 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. - LightLV - 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. - LieutenantLCDR or LtCom - Lieutenant CommanderLt (jg) - Lieutenant (Junior Grade)