and supervision of service. Both offices are
recognized as collateral duties, and attention is
paid to them in the marking of officers reports
of fitness. As with all things, doing either job well
requires study and application. Some caterers
perform their tasks exceptionally well. They give
their full attention to planning balanced diets and
light appetizing luncheons and to planning with
the Mess Management Specialist for new dishes
and varied menus. At the close of each month,
the mess treasurer gives the mess members a
statement of the mess accounts.
The senior officer of the wardroom mess
always welcomes junior officers and treats them
as full-fledged members of the mess in every
respect. Nevertheless, a junior officer should not
be too forward in conversation or action. An
error on the side of formality is more readily
pardoned than one in the other direction.
Like many other phases of naval courtesy,
wardroom etiquette, of necessity, undergoes many
changes in time of war. In the interest of
completeness, we will cover the rules of wardroom
etiquette as they are in peacetime and then give
some of the variations that would be brought
about by war.
The wardroom is the commissioned officers
mess and lounge room, The main peacetime rules
of wardroom etiquette are as follows:
Dont enter or lounge in the wardroom out
Except at breakfast, dont sit down to
meals before the presiding officer does.
If necessary to leave before the completion
of the meal, ask to be excused.
Introduce guests to wardroom officers,
especially on small ships.
Never be late for meals. If you are
unavoidably late, make your apologies to
the presiding officer.
Dont loiter in the wardroom during
Avoid wearing a cap in the wardroom,
especially when your shipmates are eating.
Avoid being boisterous or noisy.
Dont talk shop continuously.
Pay mess bills promptly.
As a new officer, be a good listener.
Dont discuss religion and politics.
Dont express unfavorable comments and
opinions about senior officers. Expressing
such comments with the intention of
being overheard by seniors is known as
Good manners, with a consideration for other
members and their guests, constitute the first
principle to which all others are secondary.
The executive officer normally serves as the
president of the mess. A small ship such as a
destroyer, however, does not provide a separate
mess for the commanding officer. In this case the
CO, who eats meals in the wardroom, serves as
president of the mess.
Officers are assigned permanent seats at the
table, alternately, in the order of grade, to the
right and left of the presiding officer. (Second
ranking officer sits on the right of the presiding
officer, third on the left, and so on.) The mess
caterer occupies the seat opposite that of the
During a war, the routine of the wardroom
is vastly different from that just described.
Regular mealtimes are out of the question
during general quarters. If, before starting to eat,
officers always waited for the presiding officer to
sit down, meals would be too irregular and
Instead of dining in the wardroom during
wartime, many officers eat a hasty meal of
sandwiches and coffee served topside whenever
time allows. A rule about never being late for
meals is hardly binding under such circumstances.
The seating arrangements in wardrooms may
undergo changes during a war. A ship may
scatter higher ranking officers among many tables
rather than concentrate them at one place, where
a chance enemy hit might wipe out all of them
at once. Seating arrangements for persons eating
in shifts are sometimes cross-sectioned by grade
among the various shifts for the same reason.