Silent Service: Specialized Submariner Speech from WWII to Present

Tammy Goss, University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire, student research paper for ENG 421, Spring 2004

This research is dedicated to all the Submariners who help defend our country. In specific, I would like to thank Submariners from the following ships:

USS Louisville USN 724
USS Alexander Hamilton SSBN 617
USS Pittsburgh SSN 720
USS Dolphin AGSS-555
USS Greenling SSN 614
USS Indianapolis SSN 697
USS Tunny SSN 682
USS Honolulu SSN 718
USS Cheyenne SSN 773
USS Los Angeles SSN 688
USS Becuna SS319
USS Albuquerque SSN-706
USS Parche SSN-683


”It's rack time”. “Honey I am pretty sure the washing machine is FUBAR”. “I am down to the short strokes at work. I should be home soon.” “We don't have any geedunk in the house!”

What? It took a while for me to get used to my husband's special phrases that he uses at home and for the first few years after we were married, I had to ask him to “please speak ‘civilian‣”. Although Ken has been off of active submarine duty for almost ten years, he still retained some of the expressions that were an integral part of his job aboard the submarine, USS Louisville. When the time came for me to conduct a linguistic research project, I found a chance to delineate, define, and describe the colorful language of submariners and issue a follow-up of Ervin J. Gaines' Talking Under Water: Speech in Submarines[1].

The lexicon of the military are unique sets of jargon and slang that enable the men and women of the military to do their very difficult jobs. Each segment of the military; Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines, has a highly specialized vocabulary that allow for quick and accurate discourse during times of stress and difficulty. While all the major military divisions have a common core vocabulary, there are subdivisions that allow an even more precise vocabulary. This research will highlight some of the specialized lexical items for one of these subdivisions, specifically Submariners who served in the United States Navy during the period of World War II until present day. The identification of this lexicon will include such information as semantics and semantic shifts, jargon and slang, etymology, usage, and phraseology. Military organizations, like nearly all large, exclusive organizations, develop slang as a means of self-identification.

For the purposes of this research, slang is defined as informal words used as a semantic shortcut for conventional words as used for in-group discourse (Wolfram, Schilling-Estes, 63–65). Jargon is a specialized set of vocabulary items that are used for a specialized group; in this case Submariners (Wolfram, Schilling-Estes, 61-62). A lexicon is the vocabulary used in verbal and written communication (Wolfram, Schilling-Estes, 56). A lexicon can consist of formal and informal terminology, as well as suffixes and prefixes (Wolfram, Schilling-Estes, 56).

Brief History

Submarines are a part of the history of the United States since the days of the American Revolution. On September 7, 1776, the Turtle, a one- man submarine was unsuccessful in attempt to attach a torpedo to the hull of the HMS Eagle anchored off New York Harbor. April 11, 1900 marks the official birth date of the U.S. Navy's Submarine Force when John P. Holland sells his internal combustion, gasoline powered submarine, Holland VI, to the Navy (Chief of Naval Operations, Submarine Warfare Division). From that moment on, submarines, and their extremely knowledgeable crewmembers, have been an indispensable force in the United States Navy.

Submarine service is an elite force; not everyone is cut out for the rigorous life style of living aboard a submarine, most often for months at a time with over a hundred other men[2]. Submariners are one of the most highly trained people in the navy and their jobs are extremely technical. Each Submariner has his own specialty, but regardless of their job they are required to learn how everything on the ship works in order to become qualified submariners. Qualification earns them the right to wear the coveted gold (officers) or silver (enlisted) Dolphin pin.

Because the ship is so compact, with so many different personalities on board, life aboard a submarine can be challenging. Many of the crew will build strong friendships that may last a lifetime and there can be a strong sense of brotherhood, with all the ups and downs that true familial brothers experience. This brotherhood can be seen in the stories that Submariners tell, the books that they write, and especially in the language that they use.


This research involved interviewing a number of Submariners, via personal interviews and a questionnaire, from a cross-section of time periods. These time periods were roughly segmented into three groups; World War II, the Cold War, and Present Day. Responses were nicely varied from various rankings of Submariners and the respondents consisted of either retired Submariners or those currently serving aboard a submarine. Those informants who wished to remain anonymous were assigned an alphanumeric code that represented their submarine number and a unique three-digit respondent code[3]. For those who did not supply a submarine, but did give a period of service, their codes were generated with the appropriate time period code and a unique three-digit number[4]. For purposes of cross-referencing those terms that are a part of the general Navy service, four individuals who were not Submariners were also interviewed and also assigned a unique respondent code[5].

Response to this research project was immense, with over 170 sailors submitting at least one term or definition for the project. Because of the response, what started out as 58 entries soon grew to 475 terms, and even this is still represents a small amount of the actual lexicon. The information collected was then put into a database, which showed the various definitions for terms included on the questionnaire as well as any items that were added by informants. This database allowed for a more precise determination of words and acronyms that consist of a) widespread Naval terms, b) Submarine Service terms only, c) specialized jargon, d) slang and e) shifts in terminology from WWII to present day. The glossary of terms was then created from the database (appendix 2), which allowed for duplications to be removed and differences in etymology to be highlighted. There were only a few problems encountered in researching this project, two of which were the sheer volume of information and how to address offensive words.

One of the decisions that needed to be made in disseminating this research was whether or not to include the vulgar or offensive words. Sailors, and especially Submariners, are a creative group, and the label of “salty-talk” certainly is still applicable to today's lexicon. Some of these may have lost their shock value for those people who are used to today's slang and ‘curse’ words, however many of them are still considered socially unacceptable. This paper does include these words because to omit them would be to invalidate any serious linguistic study; these words and phrases are an important part of a sailor's jargon. In fact, “the omission of obscenity in reporting military lingo demonstrates a failure to recognize this fundamental fact: obscenity, in the Armed Forces especially, serves as a semantic short cut in conversation” (Howard, 189). Howard continues, “Its ability to compress meaning into a few choice four-letter epithets, and thus avoid excess verbiage … makes it a utilitarian method of oral communication that is practiced by the educated as well as the uneducated” (Howard, 189). Therefore, it is with this information that this paper includes terminology exactly as the Submariners reported on the questionnaire, obscenities and all.

There were a few more difficulties in conducting this research. Some of those interviewed did not remember many of the terms they had used aboard ship but all respondents added at least one term or story to explain a word. Additionally, some respondents had conflicting information on some expressions, though generally this was limited to just a few items. One caveat must be addressed: most of these terms are not official U.S. Navy terminology. The Navy does not hand a book of jargon to new recruits, but nonetheless it is taught through general usage in basic training, advanced training schools, and day-to-day usage aboard ships. However, for those interested in further study or comparison, there are a number of official U.S. Navy Websites that list a large lexicon of general naval terms[6].

Results and Analysis

Several interesting patterns emerged from this research. Regardless of boat, age, rate, or rank most terms had a consistent definition. The majority of Submariners agreed on terminology, even among those whose service was many years ago or those who were aboard different types of submarines. Additionally, it appears that very few of the words changed from the WWII years until present day although this may not be ascertained without further interviewing a larger number of World War II veterans. However, most of the lexical items that have changed apply mainly to new technology and not general maritime terminology. In fact, some of the terms can be found to date back to the early days of sailing.

General Naval Terms with Historical Maritime Origins

There were several words that are Navy-wide that, appropriately, have their etymology from several hundreds years in the past. One example of this would be the term goat locker, which is a title applied to the Chiefs' Quarter and Mess. According to one informant, “the term originated during the time of wooden ships when Chiefs were in charge of the milk goats on board” (SSN724001). Today, the term goat is also used as a term of respect for those aboard who are older, although two former Submariners stated that goat referred to a derogatory nickname for a Chief; usually implying a ‘yes’ man (Sykora and SSN724002). The term, as it is used to apply to the Chiefs' Quarter and Mess was overwhelmingly upheld by several other respondents and also was observed being used during the PBS documentary, Steel Boats, Iron Men. However, according to the Website The Goat Locker, the phrase originated due to a mascot issues between the Army and the Navy, thus highlighting how different etymology can apply to one word or phrase.

Entertainment on liberty took many forms, mostly depending on the coast and opportunity. One incident, which became tradition, was at a Navy-Army football game. In early sailing years, livestock would travel on ships, providing the crew the fresh milk, meats, and eggs as well as serving as ships' mascots. One pet, a goat named El Cid (meaning Chief) was the mascot aboard the USS New York. When its crew attended the fourth Navy-Army football game in 1893, they took El Cid to the game, which resulted in the West Pointers losing. El Cid (The Chief) was offered shore duty at Annapolis and became the Navy's mascot. This is believed to be the source of the old Navy term, “Goat Locker” (

Another term that can be traced back to the days of wooden sailing ships is the word head, which is used for the latrine aboard ships. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, this word was originally used to denote the fore part of the ship and was first in use in 1485 (Head, 21, OED), possibly applying to the figurehead that is located on that part of the ship. In a semantic shift, head's current use may have come about because the latrine was located in the bow of the ship. Sailors would visit the lavatory in that area of the ship, hence the use of head for lavatory. The Oxford English Dictionary also shows the earliest evidence of this usage in 1748 (Head, 21d, OED). Head is still in use navy wide, and can be seen in such examples as “I have to use the head”, and head break which, as a verb, means “to take over the watch for someone so they can go to the bathroom” (see glossary). Submariners are full of interesting and funny stories and one submitted my an interviewee is an excellent example of the use of the words head and head call among other terms such as take her deep, conn, and the opening line of most Submariner stories, “…This is no shitter…”

This is no shitter…The boat was at pd at night and rigged for black. The ft of the watch requests permission to make a head call and the OOD denies him. A few minutes later ___ asks again and is again denied. The CO is on the conn and orders the OOD to take her deep. Everything needed to be done at periscope depth was done. The OOD orders the boat down and rigs for red. The CO looks over by the console and there in all its glory is __'s “torpedo” ummm… The CO asks “__ what are you doing?” Of course he was relieving himself. Right then he was then given his head call. (WWII005).

One term that seemed to take root with aviators and submariners first, and spread to the general Navy, is the rather recent linguistic development of khaki. Khaki has its etymology in the Persian language where it means dusty or khak (dust) (OED, A, khaki). The British army originally used the material, which has been dyed a dusty/dull brownish yellow color, for field uniforms starting in 1857, during India and Afghanistan campaigns (OED, B, khaki). Khakis were then approved for use by Navy aviators in 1912 and were adopted for submarines in 1931. Ten years later the Navy approved khakis for wear by senior officers in the general Navy, those who are E-7 or above (see glossary). The word khakis is now often used as KCB (Khaki Clad Bastard) or collectively as The Khaki Clan by enlisted sailors, showing an adjectival shift to pejoration, most likely in reference to those officers who were less than friendly or abused their powers.

Specific Submariner Terminology

Most terminology that can be categorized as specific submariner terminology is applicable to the technological advances that are required for submarines, such as Angles and Dangles, baffles, boomer, Crazy Ivan, and the phrase Hot, Straight and Normal. However, there are several exceptions such as Dolphins, getting one's Dolphins, tacking on the Dolphins, and Silent Service, which are more oriented toward the culture of belonging to the Submarine Service than the actual technology.

One of the proudest moments for any submariner is when they receive their Dolphins. Dolphins are the warfare insignia of the submarine fleet and represented as two Pacific dolphins flanking the prow of a WW II-type submarine cruising on surface with bow planes rigged out, gold for officers and silver for enlisted. Dolphins are earned through a process of qualifying in which individuals must learn the location of equipment, operation of systems, damage control procedures and have a general knowledge of operational characteristics of their boat. The origin of the U.S. Navy's submarine service insignia dates back to 1923 when Captain Ernest J. King, USN, suggested that a distinguishing device for qualified submariners be adopted. According to Sub Stories, “The officer's insignia is a gold plated metal pin, worn centered above the left breast pocket and above the ribbons or medals. Enlisted men wore the insignia embroidered in silk …this was sewn on the outside of the right sleeve, midway between the wrist and elbow. In mid 1947 the embroidered device shifted from the sleeve of the enlisted men's jumper to above the left breast pocket. Subsequently, silver metal Dolphins were approved for enlisted men” (Dolphins).

Getting one's Dolphins means achieving the status of a qualified Submariner. This is accompanied by the current, unapproved practice of tacking on. Tacking on was originally used as a rather innocuous term. During early WWII when a Submariner received qualification, they received the Dolphin patch. Tacking on then signified the sewing on of the Dolphin patch, although today the term has shifted to a description of a ritual group activity than a solitary one.

Tacking on as a ritual was officially disapproved of during President Clinton's first term in the early 1990s (Beck, SSN724), though it is still unofficially practiced and a great source of pride. According to one informant, the turning point for condemning the traditional rite of passage was the death of a Submariner aboard the USS Los Angeles. The sailor in question did not die from the ritual tacking on the Dolphins, but allegedly committed suicide after an investigation that was conducted by the COB (Chief of Boat) who placed pressure on the man to inform on his peers.

There are two types of tacking on; one is tacking on the Crows, which refers to the practice of punching the arm of a newly promoted Petty Officer, also now in disfavor due to past abuses and tacking on the Dolphins which is similar, but instead of the Petty Officer insignia on the shoulder, it is the punching of the submarine Dolphins into one's chest, usually leaving two blood marks on the uniform shirt from the pins on the back of the Dolphins. These bloody marks are a great source of pride (SSN724002) and one Submariner states, “…we went out to celebrate. We went to a bar where my Dolphins were taken from me and dropped into a glass containing alcohol. I had to chug it and catch my Dolphins between my teeth before I was allowed to put them back on my uniform. I don’t even remember how many glasses I had to drink before I finally caught them” (SSN724001). The ritual hazing of tacking on has changed over the years since Submariners during WWII, but by most accounts, there was usually a ritual. When these men received their patch, tacking on meant that they were thrown overboard at the first dock:

It was now back to the states. Coming back I qualified on the ATULE. A big day in my life. I think all submariners are very proud of the day you qualify. The Skipper shakes your hand. The first dock you hit, they throw you overboard. Its kind of fun. But I was just tickled because I had worked hard at it and was very proud and pleased to be a member of the crew. (Herron, Oral History Project).

One WWII Veteran said that there was no ceremony or ritual for the awarding of the Dolphins; he was just handed the patch. He had to sew them on his uniform himself, but it was still a significant moment for him. No matter how much the term and ritual ceremony has changed, tacking on is a great source of pride for Submariners for it means they are now officially an elite member of the Silent Service.

According to several informants, the label Silent Service appears to have undergone a semantic shift in connotation, from one of pejoration to amelioration. However, as one captain stated, “This (the term Silent Service) came into use in WWII because any mention of our submarines or their operations was likely to be of use by the Japanese and do harm to us. I never knew it to be a negative term, but always considered it to be a proud description” (Anderson). Contrasting with this statement are the comments of a WWII Veteran. According to the Veteran, during WWII, it was decided by the military that a newspaper editor should create a sexy name to make submarine service sound more elite in news stories. He then coined the term Silent Service and put it into use in the newspaper stories and newsreels that were shown in the movie theaters. The label was a source of ridicule by all the Submariners he knew (WWII000). In Ervin J. Gaines' article Talking Under Water: Speech in Submarines; there is verification of this definition. “A publicity agents glamorous name for submarine service. Scorned by submariners it is not used anywhere in the Navy” (Gaines, 38) although subsequent research has failed to turn up the publicity agent's name or the article in question.

Another Veteran, this one from the Cold War era gives a different and more detailed explanation:

[Silent Service] After a senator, congressman or some official was given a tour on one of the new improved ‘Fleet boats’. He made a comment about the new improvements to WWII subs. One was the new hull design that increased diving depth to > 400ft. Up to this point the Germans and Japanese had set their depth charges for no more than 300ft because they knew subs didn't go any deeper. It's true a reporter heard this and printed an article touting the safety of submarines because they went deeper than the enemy depth charges. Soon after this article was printed the US suffered considerable submarine losses. It was traced back to this article and after that point submariners refused to say anything about their ships. Even the hull numbers were blackened out so observers couldn't ID which subs were coming or going from port. I believe further verification of this can be found in Jane's fighting ships[7]. This error in judgment is also what coined the war phrase “Loose lip sink ships” (John R. Mowka MMCS (SS) Ret.).

Yet another person gives information that is very similar:

We had been getting the reports the Japanese were talking about our subs that had been sunk by their navy. Tokyo Rose would talk about their sinking our subs and we decided the best thing we could do was keep our mouths shut and say nothing about our losses. I think that was one of the reasons we got to be called the “silent service” because we wouldn't hold interviews or talk about our subs (WWII0002).

Although these may be different definitions for the same term, they all have something in common—Silent Service is now considered an elite section of the U.S. Navy and the men who belong to her are full of pride in the fact that not everyone can be a member of the Silent Service.

Personal and Personnel Terminology

Military slang is used to reinforce the sometimes-friendly inter-service rivalries. Some of these may be considered derogatory and attempts have been made to eliminate them, however these have failed because it appears that most service members take a certain pleasure in the sense of a shared hardship, which the nickname implies (Powell). The compact environment of a submarine and the long time the crew spends submerged ensures that a specialized lexicon will develop to help commanding officers and crew members maintain control, increase teamwork, and keep undesirable personal and work traits to a minimum. This is often seen in the derisive terms that are applied to those who are seen as not pulling their weight, creating strife, or other objectionable behaviors. These include such names as Check Valve for a person who is out for himself and doesn't help others, a Dink or Dink Bitch is someone who is delinquent in qualification points, KCB or Khaki Clad Bastard, which denotes the higher up officers. Mustang is used to point out someone who was enlisted but has gone up through the ranks to become an officer and can be used both in a positive and a negative manner, depending on the personal attributes of the officer. NUB is an acronym for Non-Useful Body and is applied to any person who is new or considered inept; literally a person who is wasting precious air and space in a place where personal space is already nonexistent. Skimmer is a term applied to any Navy personnel who is on a surface ship. Skimmer is frequently modified to indicate disgust by the adjective fucking, thereby showing the sense of elitism that Submariners have in their post. However, this is not limited to Submariners only; surface personnel also have a label they apply to Submariners—Bubblehead. This is also frequently modified by the same adjective that is used with skimmer. A more interesting phrase is the term Swinging Dick. This is used to address a group of crewmen and is generally used in an emphatic address such as “I want every Swinging Dick working on it” and indicative of the linguistic creativity that accompanies being a Submariner. Appendix three also shows some common submarine acronyms that are official navy terminology. Consistent Terminology from WWII to Present Day—General Navy and Submariner

Geedunk or gedunk, however one spells it, is a unique name used by sailors and has consistently been in use since at least WWII. The term gedunk was originally a noun that was used for desserts, junk food, or candy. Later the word generalized and broadened to a more inclusive adjective that also meant any work that was easy, extras or benefits, and certain types of awards, ribbons, or medals. It appears that almost anything that was ‘sweet’ or ‘easy’ could be tagged with the descriptor gedunk.

Gedunk is one of those lexical items that have several different historical origins; each one seems plausible, but all are unverifiable. One informant states that this came from the sound the mobile candy/food cart had when was rolled, a type of ‘geh DUNK’, thumping sound (CW001). Another said it was from a cartoon strip that had a candy store named ‘The Gedunk’ (WWII021) and a third said it was from the German word getunk, which loosely means to repeatedly dunk stale breads into coffee to soften it and some of the items sold on the roach coach were a bit stale and hard (WWII0011).

Not always is the term gedunk a positive modifier. The usage of gedunk medal is always in a derisive or sarcastic tone, meaning the National Defense Service medal, which is considered a meaningless medal. Each war has its own national defense service medal and is considered gedunk because you only have to be in the military to get it, even if you haven't directly participated in the war effort. If a sailor has been in the military since Vietnam, he would have 3 National Defense Service medals, one for Vietnam, and two for each of the Gulf Wars (SSN724045).

FUBAR is an acronym that stands for Fucked Up Beyond All Recognition that has been in consistent use since WWII and in fact was made popular during that war. Generally it is applied to machinery and situations that seem to have no positive conclusion in sight. Currently, it has crossed over into computer programming language to mean “failed UniBus address register”, though it is unsure whether this is a coincidence or not.

Other terms that have remained consistent from WWII until the present are Christmas tree, Chop or Pork chop, ladder chancre, rig for red, bottom, crack the hatch, and hold me up, among many others. In general, there are very few words that are not in use today that were popular during the early 40s and most of these are related to the new technology that is aboard submarines.


Overall, the lexical vocabulary of Submariners has changed little since the 1940s as evidenced by a comparison to Ervin J. Gaines' article Talking Under Water: Speech in Submarines. Ervin lists forty-six terms and definitions. All but a few of them are still in use on today's submarines with exactly the same or very similar etymology. More interesting detail is evidenced when a comparison is made between Ervin's categories of official and unofficial Navy terminology. Of the fourteen terms in the official category, all but one is still in use. In the unofficial category, eight of the expressions are now considered to be official navy terminology (Powell, 2005). In comparing this research's questionnaire to Gaines' article, the majority of the changes in words, especially in etymology have to do with the new technologies now aboard submarines as compared to WWII.

Submarine jargon and slang is as rich and varied as the history of the boats themselves. Some lexical items from specific occupations always make their way into everyday language and this is no less true for the military. A quick glance at the Oxford English Dictionary lists many such generic military terms that have crossed into everyday English. However, according to the article New Words: Where do they come from and where do they go? there is a possibility that the migration of words from subcultures to dominant cultures depends on the interaction between the two cultures (Maurer, High, 185). Because the Submarine Service is such a tight, cohesive network of elite brothers, there is little chance that many of the specialized terminology, technical or otherwise, will cross over into everyday speech. It seems for now; Silent Service will remain silent in sharing its lexicon.

Appendix 1

The purpose of this study is to catalog the lexical items that are in use by members of the United States Navy—Submarine Service. I will compare the definitions of the words you provide with those used by submariners from WWII. I will attempt to identify any shifts in semantics as well as any terms that may have crossed into Standard English. When possible, I will also attempt to identify historical etymology of these terms. This study is a follow-up of Ervin J. Gaines' Talking Under Water: Speech in Submarines. This article may be found in the scholastic journal American Speech, Vol. 23, No. I (Feb., 1948), 36'38.

To those participating in this study:

To fill out this questionnaire:

Appendix 2—GLOSSARY[8]

WordOfficialSlangN/SWW II CWPD
Bilge ratXNXXX
Candy AssXNXXX
Hollywood showerXNXXX
Hot, Straight and NormalXSXXX

Silent Service

Other common acronyms: These are all spoken in letter form and are official navy terms.

engineering department manual
engineering duty officer
engineering department organizational manual
reactor plant manual
engineering department assistant
engineering watch supervisor
engineering department master chief
main sea water
electrical assistant
auxiliary sea water
damage control assistant
main condensate pump
contamination and ratiation assistant
main steam
engineering lab technical
turbine generator
electrical operator
secondary propulsion motor (AKA outboard)
reactor operator
reactor plant control panel
shutdown reactor operator
electric plant control panel
auxiliary electrical aft
steam plant control panel
reactor technician
electric plant control panel
motor generator
steam plant control panel
duty officer


Anderson, Robert, Captain, USN, Ret.

Carl Beck TM2/SS (MM2/SS) USS Louisville SSN 724 92-94 USS Alexander Hamilton SSBN 617 90-92

Bowling, John P. “Pete” ETR2 (SS) USS Becuna SS319 62-66

Cummings, John “JD”, ET2/SS USS Louisville SSN-724 from 1993-1999 USS Dolphin AGSS-555 99-02 NCTSCU DET FF 02-05

Falbo, Anthony J “Barnyard” MM1(SS), USS Louisville SSN-724 86—91

Brown, “Howard” Haines ET1 (SS). USS Irex SS-482. ‘56-’58.

Howard, Sr. Jeffrey ICC (SS) 1982-1985 USS Albuquerque SSN-706, 1986-1988 USS Parche SSN-683, 1990-1993 USS Louisville SSN-724

Mowka, John R., MMCS(SS) Ret. USS Greenling SSN 614 Jun 74-Jul 76, USS Indianapolis SSN 697 Oct 79-Feb 84, USS Tunny SSN 682 Mar 87-Dec 89, USS Honolulu Jan 90-Jan91, USS Los Angeles SSN 688 Jan 91-Feb 93, USS Louisville Jan 96-Mar 98

Powell, Robert, STS1/SS USS Louisville (Plank owner) 3yrs. USS Pittsburgh 4 years

Sykora, Ben, EM, USS Cheyenne SSN 773

Anonymous Informant Codes


Primary Sources

Chief of Naval Operations, Submarine Warfare Division (N77). Last Accessed, April 16, 2005.

Dolphins. Last accessed, April 1, 2005.

Gaines, Ervin J. Talking Under Water: Speech in Submarines. American Speech, Vol. 23, No. I (Feb., 1948), 36–38.

Howard, Donald. United States Marine Corps Slang. American Speech, Vol. 31, 3. October, 1956. 189.

Naval Terminology. Recruit Training Command San Diego. San Diego Navy Historical Association, Inc. Last accessed April 10, 2005.

PBS videotape. Submarines: Steel Boats, Iron Men. January 1, 1989. Director, David Hoffman.

The Goat Locker. Last accessed, March 20, 2005.

Wolfram, Walt and Schilling-Estes, Natalie. American English: Dialects and Variation. Blackwell Publishers. 1999.

Secondary Sources

Calvert, James F. Silent Running: My Years on a World War II Attack Submarine. John Wiley & Sons, 1997.

Conner, Claude C. Nothing Friendly in the Vicinity: My Patrols on the Submarine USS Guardfish During WWII. Savas Publishing, 1999.

Cressman, Robert J. Official Chronology of the U.S. Navy in World War II. Naval Institute Press, 2000.

Mendenhall,Corwin. Submarine Diary. Naval Institute Press, 1995.

[1] American Speech, Vol. 23, No. I (Feb., 1948), 36–38.

[2] Although women are allowed in the U.S. Navy, there are no women allowed to serve aboard a submarine. Generally the reason is there are extremely limited living quarters, there is no room aboard a submarine for the separate berthing units and lavatories that would be required for women Submariners.

[3] For example, a submariner aboard the submarine USS Louisville SSN724 who wished to remain anonymous would be given the code USN724###, where the pound symbol is replaced with a generic three-digit number.

[4] For example, a World War II veteran was given the code WWII###.

[5] For example, USN###.


( DoD Dictionary of Military Terms

[7] This is a military site located at and is a database that contains information on all things military for all countries. It is a for-profit site.

[8] Key—If there is an X in the official column, then the term is an official navy term. If there is an X in the slang column, then the word is strictly slang. If there is an N then the term is used navy wide, and an S means the term was only found to be used aboard submarines. An X in the period column denotes what time period the term was used.

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