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History Naval

Jackspeak of the Royal Canadian Navy

A Glossary of Naval Terminology

by (author) Mark Nelson

Dundurn Press
Initial publish date
Oct 2018
Naval, Dictionaries, Canada
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Oct 2018
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2018
    List Price

Classroom Resources

Where to buy it


Pull up a bollard and get to know the colourful language of the Royal Canadian Navy.

Do you ever get channel fever so bad only a great homeward bounders will cure you? Have you ever met Tug Wilson the brass-pounder, Dusty Miller the blanket stacker, or Nobby Clark the stoker? From aback to zizEX, the second edition of Jackspeak of the Royal Canadian Navy gives readers a chance to fill their boots with the colourful language of Canada’s senior service. Learn the difference between duff and no duff, box kickers and gut robbers, and Nelson’s blood and Neptune’s dandruff. Newly revised and expanded, with over 2,500 terms included!

About the author

Mark Nelson developed a love for the language and lifestyle of the Canadian Navy over his 26-year naval career. After retiring as a Chief Petty Officer 2nd Class, he now works as the systems and services coordinator at the Red River College Library in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Mark Nelson's profile page

Excerpt: Jackspeak of the Royal Canadian Navy: A Glossary of Naval Terminology (by (author) Mark Nelson)


1910 Recognized as the year the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) was formed. Incidentally, this was forty-three years after Canada became a nation.

20 feet of shoreline An imaginary entity, made up for a practical joke, where a green sailor is asked to go on a wild goose chase. Of course, the victim is not aware of the gag, but everyone else in the ship’s company is, and is usually happy to assist in perpetuating its effectiveness. “Leading Seaman: Ordinary Seaman Bloggins, go fetch twenty feet of shoreline. (A little later) Bloggins: Excuse me Master Seaman, where do they store the shoreline? Master Seaman: Go ask the cooks. I think it’s in the galley.” See also bucket of prop wash and relative bearing grease.

20,000 parts flying in formation A Sea King helicopter. The number of parts often varies. See also Sea Thing.

2182 kHz The international calling and distress frequency for maritime radio voice communication on the marine band.

280 lady A sailor who has served mostly in the 280-class, also known as the Iroquois class. The nickname refers to the pendant numbers of the ships: 280, 281, 282, and 283. Since this class of ship has recently been retired, this nickname will slowly fall out of use.

2IC Second-in-Command.

6 Ds A term submariners sometimes use in bragging about their own glamorous life. It stands for “Deep Diving, Death-Defying Denizens of the Deep.”

Editorial Reviews

A delightful read, for both mariners and non-mariners alike! Despite having over 25 years in the Royal Canadian Navy, I learned a few new terms reading this book. The author, who first introduced me as a very green Ordinary Seaman to the Naval world, has done a wonderful job capturing the unique nature of Naval speak. I would recommend this book to any new and even seasoned sailors to gain a better understanding of life at sea.

— Commander Jason Karle, OIC Sea Training (Atlantic) – Patrol, RCN

Today’s RCN needs this book as a bridge between the experienced sailors and the new entries ... An outstanding resource!

— Chief Petty Officer Chris Radimer (retired)

It’s wonderful to see such an outstanding collection of the words and phrases I have passed on to many young sailors in my forty-three years of naval service.

— Chief Petty Officer Fred Haight (retired)