I Think I Finally “Get It”!

| March 22, 2013

Why the Navy seems so odd to everyone else, that is.

It’s simple.  They think and look at the world differently.

Here’s an example.  In any sane world, room 5D22 generally is next to (or maybe across the hall from) room 5D23.

On a ship – or in a building laid out by a Navy contractor – it’s often completely on the other side of the ship or building.  That’s called the “even/odd rule”.

Also, decks above the main deck are levels, not decks – even though they’re decks.  Decks including and below the main deck – those are decks.  And the main deck may or may not be big one that’s open to the air (it’s not on a carrier).  And so on.

Once you realize that, why the Navy seems “different” to everyone else all starts to kinda make sense.

You nautical types are kinda weird, but we love you anyway. (smile)

Category: Navy, Pointless blather, Who knows

Comments (81)

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  1. Hondo says:

    Information Warrior: your example is only part what I was referring to. The Navy has so damn many different ways to designate the same enlisted grade.

    Here’s a short example from just the Aviation career field. All of these are equivalent to PO3/E4: AB3, AC3, AD3, AE3, AG3, AM3, AO3, AS3, AT3, AW3, AZ3, PR3.

    I mean, really. Why the hell not just use PO3, PO2, PO1, CPO, SCPO, and MCPO for E4 through E9?

    Then again, this is the same Navy that allegedly sent out a message declaring a new specification for dungaree material in the early 1980s to be called “Certified Uniform Navy Twill”. DON also allegedly rescinded the message a day or two later – apparently after someone at HQ (probably one of the Chiefs on staff, or a mustang officer) pointed out what would doubtless become the informal acronym for the new material. (smile)

    Can’t say I ever saw a copy of those messages myself, but I’ve been told that story by an old-timer who allegedly did. I guess it could have been one of their “sea stories”, though.

  2. AW1Ed says:

    #50, PI, that would be six bells. Lubber.

  3. OWB says:

    Zee! That vid you posted reminded me that I used to could move in ways that are no longer possible. Arrrrrgh!!

  4. Hondo,

    Not an airdale myself. But you can address all of those as “Petty Officer”. Once someone puts on their crows, they can be addresses by that title until they are selected for Chief or they commission.

    Because honestly, we don’t expect most people to be able to guess someone’s rate when you first meet them.

    Interestingly enough, the navy does sell a set of “khakis” in CNT. Not a huge fan of them, though.

    Although it gets ridiculous when someone has earned a lot of warfare devices.

    At any rate, does anyone know how the term “head” in reference to a toilette got its name? Because back in the days of sail, it was at the “head” of the ship.

  5. Sorry for the disjointed post, it’s been a long day. I meant that when someone earns a lot of warfare devices, they can start signing their name with them as part of their signature.

    Ex: Petty Officer First Class Jones, the Boatswain Mate who has an enlisted surface warfare pin and an air warfare pin can sign his name “BM1(SW/AW) Jones”.

    It gets worse when someone has earned more.

  6. Hondo says:

    Information Warrior: I’m aware of that. What I wrote here was in the spirit of poking a bit of good-natured fun at my nautical brothers-in-arms.

    But c’mon, admit it: you guys do that just to confuse everyone, including yourselves. (smile)

    Each of the services has its own quirks and nonsensical policies/procedures/traditions. I’ll tell anyone that IMO my own (Army, active/reserve, 30+ years, now grey-area retired) isn’t immune from stupidity. IMO we by far hold the record for “stupid uniform tricks”. And one uniform change in particular really takes the cake.

  7. Ex-PH2 says:

    Yes, if I went back in I’d be a Media Specialist (MS) instead of a Photographer’s Mate (OH), and I’d be assigned to a combat camera group, probably in the Pacific (COMCAMGRU/PAC), assigned to a squadron (VAX, VSAW, VACTRON, etc.)

    And the Army thinks they have a sole claim on the use of initial caps for everything?

    Not hardly.

  8. Ex-PH2 says:

    TYPO!!! OH should be PH!!

  9. ComancheDoc says:

    Is a VACTRON anything like a Voltron??

  10. AW1 Tim says:

    As an Airdale, I not only had all the Navalese, but also the aviation slang/language to learn too. Fortunately, because of my work prior to the Navy, I had a lot of aviation slang down, and my dad, being a former Hospital Corpsman still used some Navalese, but yeah……. those first few weeks of bootcamp were a severe culture shock. 🙂

  11. Ex-PH2 says:

    @59 – No. It’s squadron of Hoovers, to clean up the mess. 😉

  12. ComancheDoc says:

    That was my second guess, I was really hoping for Robotic cats though.

  13. Ex-PH2 says:

    @62 – The robot cats squadron is designated at VCATRON-R.

  14. A Proud Infidel says:

    @56, Hondo, by “stupid uniform tricks” done by the Army, you mean like Shinseki’s “Berets for Everyone” campaign or the swap to the grey “pajamas” we wear in the field these days?
    Yes, “pajamas”, my unit was one of the first to have them issued to us for deployment to A-stan in 2005. We called them “pajamas” because they fell apart that quickly. They will camouflage you perfectly as long as you’re laying flat atop a pile of freshly crushed gravel!

    @PH2, If they’ve got a robot cat unit, I think they’d have to have a robot rodent outfit, ROCRODCOMCENT?

  15. Hondo says:

    Actually, Proud Infidel – no. I was thinking of the late 1990s mandatory greens swap-out. There, the Army directed that you swap out your greens for a new set that were identical in design, and so close in color you literally had to lay them side-by-side in bright light to be able to tell which was which. And sometimes it was damned hard to do so even then.

    At that point in my career, I could afford the $200 or so for a new set. But some troops with a family had a rather hard time with that one. Never did see any point in that little escapade.

    IMO the 1990s beret fiasco was a fairly close second, though – but at least it was an obvious change. The greens swap-out wasn’t.

    The ACU IMO at least was a change that attempted something worthwhile. Unfortunately, it didn’t work as well as anticipated and wasn’t initially implemented particularly well, either.

  16. A Proud Infidel says:

    @Hondo: Indeed, the Mahogany Desk Commandos in the Pentagon and DC obviously HAD to hurry up and change our field uniforms because they thought the USMC had just “one-upped” them. That’s one thing I envy about the USMC, they find out what works when it comes to uniforms, and they keep it KISS. Just look at how often they’ve changed their Dress Green and Blues as to how often the Army has,….. Damn, I could run my mouth about this all day!

  17. Hondo says:

    Proud Infidel: in truth, the BDU needed replacement. Didn’t work too well in a desert, and the “chocolate chip” DCU had its issues too. IMO the ACU was an attempt that just didn’t work as well as it could and should have.

    I really think the Army screwed up when it got rid of the old “pickle suit” wash-and-wear OD green fatigues. For garrison wear, it worked and was reasonably easy to care for. We could have kept that and added 4 sets of CIF-issued BDU/DCU/Arctic/whatever, depending on primary mission and geographical area, as a supplement. Mandate the “pickle suit” for garrison and restrict the CIF-issued uniforms to field wear and deployments (if deploying elsewhere, do a swap-out at the end of train-up or during deployment prep) and you’re done.

    Other than the late-90s greens fiasco, I can’t bitch too much about Army dress uniforms. Until the late 1990s swap out, greens hadn’t changed much in at least 30 years; style and color was the same. What pissed me off about the 90s fiasco was that it wasn’t really a change – it was just a new expense for no good reason.

    Blues were even more stable. I don’t think those had changed in about 40 years before the ASU came into being.

  18. A Proud Infidel says:

    I just hope one day some Top Brass will awaken and return the Black Beret to the status used to be and should have been left in: RANGERS ONLY! I’m a leg, and i saw nothing wrong with the “Green Hot Dog hat” or the “Flying Saucer Cap”. UP YOURS, GEN SHINSEKI!!!

  19. Mustang2LT says:

    @64 Proud Infidel, you hit the nail on the head about the ACU. I remember when I was in the Army National Guard OCS program, one of my fellow candidates made the comment about the ACU’s only being good camouflage if you were having a war in a gravel pit. In my civilian life, I work on high voltage electrical equipment and, while shopping for tools, spotted a cool looking ACU pattern tool pouch. It’s worked out great except for the time I dropped it off of a boom truck and had a hell of a time finding it in the gravel of the high voltage substation I was working in!

    However, I will say that the worst uniform idea of all time was the Air Force’s ABU (Airman Battle Uniform). I remember getting them just before I went to Iraq and wanted to shoot the idiot who came up with that uniform; it was heavier than our winter weight BDU’s, the regulations forbade rolling sleeves with the uniform, and the tops always had to be worn unless on a work detail; fortunately I was in an Engineer squadron so was always on a “work detail” :)! On top of that, I had the first generation of the uniform with the map pocket lining in the top (yep, quilted lined, just like a Carhart). Oh, and since Engineer squadrons have electricians, HVAC techs, and plumbers, we have need of a fire retardant uniform; because of the material that it is made from, that ABU will go up like a torch if you get exposed to any electrical arc or fire! And don’t even get me started on that damn Delta Airlines pilot uniform that they tried to pass off as a service uniform! Thank god I have a service uniform now that looks like a military uniform (the ASU), except I will probably get some funny looks from people when they see a ribbon rack full of Air Force awards!

  20. Hondo,

    Oh I am well aware of that. I just like debating for the sake of debating. 🙂

    Yep, the Navy has its share of stupid things just as all the services do. My particular favorite is the ever-evolving NWU’s.

  21. AW1 Tim says:


    As someone who might have had to go into the water to pull someone else out, I can’t for the life of me understand the thinking behind the aquaflage NWU.

    Dungarees were the best, most comfortable and easiest to maintain working uniform the Navy has ever had. They really need to go back to those.

  22. AW1 Tim,

    Well we went from dark blue coveralls to aquaflage…..so we now made anyone who falls overboard harder to find. Like searching the great big ocean for a person isn’t hard enough.

    I met airmen/soldiers who have asked me if the NWU’s turn orange when they are wet. I e had to explain that NWU’s aren’t even that cleverly designed.

  23. Yat Yas 1833 says:

    Fellas, fellas fellas…If you want to become fluent in all facets of Navalese, simply give yourself a lobotomy and presto-chango! I gotta admit being an amtracer I was aboard ships a lot, especially LSTs and LPDs so I became fluent with only the lobotomy from recruit training!? 🙂 I will give our Navy brethren this, some of the best chow I had was aboard ship.

  24. Oh AND to top it all off, most ships stick to coveralls underway still. And since neither the NWU’s or coveralls are fire retardant, you have to wear “engineering coveralls” if you want to go into the engineering spaces on a ship.

  25. NHSparky says:

    Just get me back on the boat…poopy suits and tennis shoes underway.

    And if it was an op, a $10 contribution to the ship’s Rec Fund would allow the donor to grow a full beard for the duration of the underway.

  26. NHSparky,

    Yeah, but the most I could last growing a beard was a month and a half before the itching drove me crazy.

  27. A Proud Infidel says:

    @69, Mustang 2LT, are you referring to the blue “tiger stripe” ones I remember seeing circa 2004? A lot of us Army GI’s looked at those and laughed!

  28. ChopIT says:

    Why the Navy is better than the Army…


  29. ChopIT says:

    In the interest of the Politically Correct military, I would like to apologize now for the content of the above mentioned video if it offended anyone in the least, especially those in the Army…

  30. Hondo says:

    ChopIT: you did catch the end credits on that ad, right? (smile)

  31. Mustang2LT says:

    @77 Proud Infidel,
    The uniform you’re thinking of is a prototype that never was issued to the full service. It was evaluated in 2004 and didn’t suit the needs of the service (THANK GOD!) It looked rather French with belt loops on the blouse and a Beret (see, it wasn’t just Shinseki). The uniform I was talking about has a similar cut to the BDU but has a digital stripe pattern in tan, gray, and foliage green. Besides being too heavy, the other gripe is those stupid sage green boots that are worn with the uniform. Fortunately, when I was in Iraq, we were issued the tan desert boots since they didn’t have enough of the sage green ones.