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Naval Terms and Customs -Continued: Bilge - Chaulk
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Naval Terms and Customs -Continued: Crossing the Line - Flag at Half-Mast
CHAINS On  many  sailing  ships,  shrouds  supporting  the masts were secured to links of chain attached to the  ships’  sides.  To  get  a  better  lead  for  the shrouds  and  to  keep  them  from  bearing  on  the bulwarks,  a  ship’s  leadsman  led  the  chains  up around thick planks jutting from the ship’s sides. These  planks  made  convenient  platforms  from which  the  leadsman  could  heave  the  lead,  and  the leadsman  was  “in  the  chains.”  Later,  as  now, shrouds  were  secured  on  deck  inboard  of  bulwarks or  lifelines.  Special  platforms  were  built  for  the leadsman, but the term  chains  was  retained. CHARLIE  NOBLE The term  Charlie  Noble  refers  to  the  galley smoke  pipe.  While  its  origin  is  obscure,  it  is generally believed to have been derived from the British  merchant  skipper,  Charlie  Noble,  who demanded a high polish on the galley funnel. His bright  copper  galley  funnel  became  well  known in the ports he visited. CHEWING  THE  FAT “God made the vittles, but the devil made the cook,”   was  a  popular  saying  used  by  seafaring men in the last century when salted beef was staple diet  aboard  ship. This tough, cured beef, suitable only for long voyages when nothing else was as cheap or would keep  as  well,  required  prolonged  chewing  to  make it edible. Since men often chewed one chunk for hours,  just  as  if  it  were  chewing  gum,  they referred   to   this   practice   as   chewing   the   fat. Today this term is used to describe a conversation. CHIT This term refers to almost any sort of paper used in everyday business transactions. Derived from the old East India Company and the hindu word  chitti. CHRISTENING  A  SHIP Launching  ceremonies  have  had  a  religious significance from the earliest days. The christening ceremony  originated  as  an  appeasement  to  the gods of the elements. In some countries as recently as  a  hundred  years  ago,  a  launching  frequently resembled  a  baptismal  ceremony  and  was  per- formed  by  priests. Early in the 19th century, women and those other than the clergy and high officials began to take  part  in  the  ceremony  of  launching  ships. Today  the  ceremony  usually  consists  in  the naming  of  the  vessel  by  a  sponsor  and  the breaking  of  a  bottle  of  wine  against  the  ship’s  bow as it slides into the water. People have been known to  miss  the  ship  entirely;  so  today  the  bottle  is secured by a lanyard to the bow of the ship—as a  safety  measure  for  spectators. COMMISSION   PENNANT The origin of the commission pennant is said to date back to the 17th century. When the Dutch were  fighting  the  English,  Admiral  Tromp  hoisted a  broom  at  his  ship’s  masthead  to  indicate  his intention to sweep the English from the sea. The gesture was soon answered by the English admiral who hoisted a horsewhip to indicate his intention to  chastise  the  Dutch.  The  British  carried  out the admiral’s boast. Ever since, a narrow pennant has  symbolized  the  original  horsewhip  as  the distinctive  mark  of  a  vessel  of  war. The commission pennant, as it is called today, is blue at the hoist, with a union of seven white stars;  it  is  red  and  white  at  the  fly,  in  two horizontal  stripes.  The  number  of  stars  has  no special  significance  but  was  arbitrarily  selected  as providing the most suitable display. The pennant is flown at the main by vessels not carrying flag officers. A vessel carrying an admiral, a squadron commander,  a  group  commander,  or  a  high- ranking  civil  official  flies  that  person’s  personal flag  or  command  pennant  in  lieu  of  the  com- mission  pennant. CONN To  conn  means  to  control,  or  direct  by rudder  and  engine  order  telegraph,  the  movements of a ship. When someone has the conn, it indicates that person is the one and only person who can give   orders   to   the   wheel   and   engine   order telegraph  at  any  one  time.  The  exact  derivation of  the  word  conn  is  not  known. COXSWAIN   (COCKSWAIN) This  term  is  derived  from  “cock,”  a  small boat,   and   “swain,”   a  servant.  It  signifies  an enlisted person in charge of a boat in the absence of   a   line   officer.   Pronounced   cox’-un. AII-3

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