The U.S. Navy has thousands of vessels and aircraft in
its inventory. They range from small harbor patrol boats to
huge super carriers and from helicopters to giant transport
planes. You wont be expected to know the characteristics
of each one, but you should be able to recognize the type of
ship or aircraft you see. You should also be able to identify
its mission and armament and have an idea about its size.
In this chapter, youll learn about the major classes and the
major types of ships and aircraft the Navy operates and
what their characteristics and missions are. You will also
learn some of the more common terms used to identify
structural features and the terminology used to express
direction and locations aboard ship.
Before you learn about the types and classes of ships,
you need some background information about ships in
general. To take advantage of scientific advances, the fleet
is making changes. Cruise missiles, close-in defense
systems, and multirole radar units are replacing
conventional electronic and weapons systems. The Navys
new submarines and aircraft carriers are nuclear-powered.
Therefore, steaming endurance is limited only by the
replenishment of necessary supplies and food.
Many ships have been modernized to perform a wide
variety of missions and to accomplish old missions more
efficiently. During overhaul, older ships are outfitted with
new radar, fire control, and communications systems. The
hulls are strengthened and power plants reworked to
extend the lives of these ships. However, its not
economically sound to convert all ships to nuclear power.
Learning Objectives: When you finish this chapter, you
will be able to
Identify terms used aboard ship.
Recall the names used for superstructures and
components of ships hulls to include decks and
doors and hatches.
Identify structural terms.
In civilian life you used terms such as upstairs,
downstairs, windows, floors, ceilings, walls, and
hallways. In the Navy, you must learn to use Navy
language. To use civilian terminology aboard ships marks
you as a landlubbera scornful term used to describe
those who know nothing of the sea.
Lengthwise direction on a ship is fore and aft;
crosswise is athwartships. The front of the ship is the bow;
the rearmost is the stern. To move forward toward the bow
is to go forward; to move toward the stern is to go aft.
Anything that is more toward the bow than another object
is forward of it, and anything that is more toward the stern
is abaft (behind) the other object.
A ship is divided in half lengthwise by a centerline.
When you face forward along the centerline, everything to
your right is to starboard; everything to your left is to port.
Fixtures and equipment take the name of the side on which
they are located, such as the starboard gangway and the
When you go toward the centerline, you go inboard.
An object nearer the centerline is inboard of another object
and that object is outboard of the first. The section around
the midpoint area is called amidships (also called the
waist). The extreme width of a ship, usually in the midship
area, is its beam.
This ship is built to fight. Youd better know how.
Admiral Arleigh Burke
The air fleet of an enemy will never get within striking distance of our
coast as long as our aircraft carriers are able to carry the
preponderance of air power to the sea.
Rear Admiral W. A. Moffett