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Technical Definitions

Page history last edited by Dr. Julie Chisholm 12 years ago

Technical Definitions Specific to Cal Maritime:

A Partial List of Marine-Related Terminology...and CMA Slang


Compiled by students in Eng 120: Engineering Communications


On the California Maritime Academy campus, the term “AREA 51” refers to the other weight room on campus, next to the free-weight room.  The reason that this other weight room is called “area 51” is because the code to get in is “5-1”.  This room is not to be confused with area 51 in Roswell, New Mexico. 


BALLS-TO-FOUR--refers to watch standing in military time; balls meaning midnight, twelve o’clock a.m. There is a resemblance to actual balls if one reads a military set analog watch at midnight, hence the term.


BATES--In uniform terms, Bates are standard footwear, typically worn with khakis, dress blues, and the salt and pepper uniforms. Bates are plain black, round-toe dress shoes, and are expected to be kept clean, polished, and free of any marks. They are also somewhat uncomfortable.


BOILERSUIT--In mechanical engineering, boilersuits are also known as coveralls. They are a protective, blue, one piece uniform with full length sleeves and legs made of heavy cotton. Engineers typically wear boilersuits when working with equipment such as engines, refrigerators, etc. Boilersuits may be called so because they are worn by people working on or around coal-burning boilers.


In the maritime world, there is a slang saying, “It's cold enough to freeze the balls off a BRASS MONKEY.”  The brass monkey isn’t a drink or a statue of a monkey made of brass, but a square, low-sided box made of brass used to hold iron cannonballs stacked in a pyramid fashion.  Back in the day, the balls were placed into the many boxes around the ship near the cannons to keep them from rolling around and causing damage to the ship and injury to the crew from the motion of the sea.  When temperatures would get near freezing, the brass material that made the monkey would contract at a higher rate than the cannonballs made from low grade iron.  This shrinkage of the monkey would cause the balls to spill out over the sides of the monkey. Nowadays, equipment like this isn’t used but the saying continues to be used when somebody is describing very cold weather on a ship.


BULKHEAD--On a ship, a bulkhead is the term for a wall.  This should not be confused with a retaining wall on a shoreline, a barrier in a mine, or the character from Transformers.  It is among the terms for surfaces on a ship such as an overhead (the term for a ceiling), or a deck (the term for a floor).






CIVVIES--In regard to CMA uniform standards, civvies refer to the informal, non-mandatory styles of clothing permitted at CMA only for recreational activities. On most occasions, civies are allowed after dinner on weekdays and at all hours on weekends. This, however, is authorized by the Commandant of Cadets and can vary at times. The word originates from the term, “civilian clothing;” the common style of clothing accepted and worn by those civilians outside of the campus gates.


COLORS--Colors is a nautical term used here at Cal Maritime meaning "flag." For example, at formation they say, “Raise colors.”  Most people who are not familiar with nautical terms will mistake “colors” for a different meaning of colors such as the colors of the rainbow, red, green, blue, etc. 






COVER--describes something worn on your head with the CMA uniform, like the CMA baseball cap or the garrison cap. It should not be confused with the verb "to cover," which is used to describe something that is lying on top of something else.  For example: “The cover is part of your uniform.”




CREW--In marine athletics, crew is a sport in which there is a team of rowers and a member who steers the boat and commands the rowers' actions. The team is comprised of either two, four, or eight rowers and the coxswain (who steers). It is not to be confused with a crew of a ship.


CRUISE--At Cal Maritime, the term "Cruise" refers to the two-month, at-sea training that all the students at Cal Maritime will experience as a part of their curriculum. This term is not to be confused with a pleasure or summer vacation cruise that one might take on a commercial cruise liner.


DECKIE--In the marine shipping industry and in military operations, a deckie is one who works on the deck of the ship. He/she is also know as a deck hand, deck ape, crackerjack, or a Boatswain's Mate. A deckie’s main job is to keep a ship in sailing condition. A deckie performs general maintenance on the ship and is responsible for the ship. A deckie’s responsibilities include painting the ship, navigating the ship, assisting in docking the ship, and the general welfare of the ship.


DIFF-E-Qs--This mathematical slang refers to Differential Equations, a required math course for Mechanical Engineering Majors designed to rob them of their sleep.




DIVISION--In the Corps of Cadets, divisions are groups of students from different majors, which form smaller families; whereas a division in a tournament is for separating people based on their skill level or age. The Corps of Cadets uses divisions to create a bond between the students and help them feel more comfortable at school. The main use of the word is to describe a way of separating people into groups of various sizes.


DNS--DNS at Cal Maritime is an abbreviation for the Department of Naval Science. This building is composed of two temporary bungalows attached to each other right in front of the pier housing the Golden Bear. From the door, located in the center of the bungalows, the Department of Naval Science is to the left. The officers in charge of the Merchant Marine Reserve Program work there. To the right of the door is the Leadership Development Office which holds the commander of the Corps of Cadets, as well as many administrative officials.


DOG THE HATCHES--On the Training Ship Golden Bear, the term “dog the hatches” means to shut a door, or hatch, and fasten it closed.


DUCKY SUIT--is a slang term used to describe the yellow weather gear used by the cadets at CMA during inclement weather. This is not to be confused as a person in a duck costume.


DUNGS--One type of uniform worn at CMA is called dungs, short for dungarees. Dungs are a two-piece blue work clothes made by Dickies, and should not be confused with the one-piece blue coveralls.


EBDW--In the language of Mechanical Engineering majors, EBDW is an acronym established by the Mechanical Engineering class of 2009 that stands for “Engineering Beat Down Week,” a week during which at least 80% of teachers have tests scheduled. This EBDW, occurring every two to three weeks, results in such extensive studying that students get no sleep.


EGYPT—At the California Maritime Academy, Egypt is a parking lot on the Eastern side of CMA, one that includes a 115-step hike to absolutely nowhere; location that students park their cars. Use to be a shooting range however, usually freshman are now demoted to park here, not to be confused with Bodnar, another easier accessed parking lot for students on campus.


ENGINES--refers to all engineer majors at CMA, which include Mechanical Engineers, Marine Engineering Technology, and Facilities Engineering Technology. This should not be confused with any other actual engine: a machine for converting thermal energy into mechanical energy or power to produce force and motion, a railroad locomotive, a fire engine, any mechanical contrivance, or a machine or instrument used in warfare, as a battering ram, catapult, or piece of artillery.


EOS—On the training ship Golden Bear, “EOS” stands for Engineering Operating Station. This is the main room on the second deck of the ship. This room provides controls that operate different parts of the ship including engine operations, cooling, heating, etc.


FIRST CLASS-- Not to be confused with a very nice way to travel, first class refers to the seniors at Cal Maritime. The freshmen are 4th class, the sophomores are 3rd class, the juniors are 2nd class, and the seniors are 1st class. The classes are abbreviated as follows: 4/C, 3/C, 2/C, 1/C. Every entering student is 4/C and every graduating student is 1/C.


FORMO--A campus requirement, "Formo," is another word for formation (similar to Navy, Air Force, Army, Marines, and Coast Guard) is performed by the Corps of Cadets by assembling in a unit broken up into divisions by columns at least three days a week during the school year.


FRESHMAN HILL - At the California Maritime Academy, the term "Freshman Hill" refers to the part of County Lane Drive just outside the campus gates.  Students without parking permits for campus parking lots often park their vehicles on the side of this road for an easy walk to campus.  The hill earned its name because most students without parking permits are freshmen, who cannot purchase a parking permit without a waiver from a committee.


GANGWAY--In maritime terminology, a gangway is a series of steps leading from a boat dock upwards to the boarding area of a ship or vessel that allows passengers to obtain access to the ship or vessel.


GLOBO--is a term used as an abbreviation for a student studying the major Global Studies and Maritime Affairs. This term is not used in a derogatory manner and it is informal. Not to be confused with the term globe which is Earth or an item in a spherical shape. Globo’s gain an understanding of governmental agencies, non-profit organizations, international organizations and business dealing with the maritime industry. 


GOLDEN BEAR--At "Cal Maritime," The Golden Bear is a training ship, as opposed to the golden bear statue known as "KEEMA" in front of the quad on the CSU campus. The ship plays a vital role in preparing the cadets for their respective fields in the job industry by providing invaluable hands-on experience.


GREASEMONKEY--in general engineering terms, a grease monkey is someone who does manual labor, generally a dirty job, such as mechanics.  The "grease monkey" is generally the newest or lowest ranking member of the team.


HEAD--On the Training Ship Golden Bear, the head has two definitions: 1. the lavatory and 2. the bow of the ship.  It is not to be confused by a top of a tool or a supervisor of certain department.




HORSESHOE--Aboard the T.S. Golden Bear, the horseshoe is the "U" shaped passage, in the aft of the ship, on the 2nd Deck, which provides access to several utility rooms and the steering gear.


KEEMA--Keema is the name of the Golden Bear art piece at the center of Alumni park (Also known as Golden Bear Park).  Keema is located right next to the flagpole in the quad.  Keema is not to be confused with the sounding out of the school's intitials "C-M-A" and pronouncing it with a hard "C," as the cadets from the 40's and 50's said when referring to the Maritime Academy.


KEELHAULING--In nautical conduct, keelhauling was a punishment for a sailor, which was formally abolished in 1853.  When a Dutch or English sailor committed a serious breach of the ship's code of conduct, the guilty would be tied at their hands and feet, thrown overboard the ship and drug along the bottom (keel) of the ship.  The executioner was called the keel hauler, which is the school mascot and is the only mascot in the intercollegiate school that has a punishment as a mascot.


KHAKIS--In uniform standards, khakis are beige in color and must be worn with black shoes, name tag, and depending on corps level different collar devices on your right or left collar. They also consist of pants, a button down shirt, and a white undershirt. They are considered the standard uniform of CMA.


MELT--The acronym “MELT” directly translates as Mechanical Engineer Licensed Track. These are the Mechanical Engineering majors at Cal Maritime who, upon graduation will have a 3rd assistant engineer’s license. This is not to be confused with a professional engineering license (PE) which Engineers can test for, after becoming an EIT (Engineer in Training) and working under a licensed Professional Engineer.


MESS DECK--Mess Deck:  In the foodservices at the California Maritime Academy, the mess deck is the main cafeteria on campus.  Although the term deck refers to a level of a ship, the mess deck is located in the center of the school.  After being thoroughly inspected at formation, the students California Maritime Academy walk to the mess deck for lunch. Although decks are normally levels on a ship, this landlocked building is the one and only cafeteria on campus. Because CMA is a campus dedicated to maritime affairs, it is referred to as a deck to allow students to adjust to sea terms.    The mess deck allows students to eat fried foods to their hearts desire, indulge themselves in Mom’s amazing desserts, and test their creativity in making sandwiches.  The cafeteria, however, is anything but messy.  To help enforce cleaning standards, embarrassing applause occurs when anything is dropped.  This form of intimidation reduces the amount of spills due to careless or clumsy students.  Unlike at most colleges, the students at CMA do not have to worry about the quantity or choice of their meals; the walk up the stairs to the dorm rooms destroys any chance of the dreaded “freshmen fifteen” from taking place.


MID RATS--During shipboard watch standing during cruise, the watch on the 00-04 gets "mid rats," or middle rations, as a late night snack to tide their hunger until breakfast.  This is not to be confused with midsized rodents.




MOM--In Cal Maritime, “Mom/ Momma” is the nick name for pastry Chef  Lara. She is a loving and caring lady form Sri Lanka. Not to be confused with any of the other chefs in the kitchen, momma is the chef that not only knows your name, but she even gives you treats on your birthday and is sure to keep your tongues taste buds satisfied. 


MORROW COVE--refers to the student center on the western side of the campus. Morrow Cove is where students can buy lunch, usually a sandwich and a bag of chips. Students can also sit and chat, do homework, or have meetings in Morrow Cove.  Morrow Cove is also where the student mail boxes are located. It is not to be confused with the actual cove that the California Maritime Academy is built on, which is also named Morrow Cove.




MMR--In the Corps of Cadets at California Maritime Academy, Students are able to join the MMR (Merchant Marine Reserve Program). In this program, students are able to gain a commission as an Ensign in the United States Navy Reserve. Or Students can apply for a commission as an active duty officer in the U.S. Navy, or as an active duty officer in any other branch of the U.S. Military (except the U.S. Coast Guard).


PEANUT BUTTERS—at CMA, Peanut Butters refer to the khaki uniforms worn by CMA cadets and Corps of Command. The khaki uniform consist of, khaki pants, khaki shirt, a khaki belt and khaki garrison cover with black round toe dress shoes.  Along with Peanut Butters include name tag on the right side and ribbons on the left of khaki shirts. Rank insignias are worn on the left or right collar of the khaki shirts to show ranks in year and the Corps among students and some staff at CMA. 




PORT PASS--On campus, a Port Pass is a photo identification card used to acces the campus gate, the Training Ship Golden Bear (TSGB), and other places around campus.  The Port Pass is differenianted from other identification cards by the Cal Maritime titile on the front of the card, and a breath taking rendering of the schools beloved ship on the back.




QMED--In the Merchant Marines, QMED stands for Qualified Member of the Engineering Department it is a qualification that the Coast Guard issues out to qualified personnel after they pass a test. The Engineering Department consists of the folowing jobs/ratings: Deck Engineer, Fireman/ Watertender, Machinist, Oiler, Refrigeration Engineer, Electrician, Junior Engineer, Pumpman, Deck Engine Mechanic, Engineman. Each job/rating has its own test, so if you pass all of them you are what is classified as QMED Any Rating. To be a QMED you must atleast pass one of the tests.


REEFER--is slang for refrigeration system, or the system on the ship that uses SW and condensers to cool Halon which is used to cool the refrigerator boxes. Not to be confused with the refrigerated box on a container ship that ships items that must be kept cool and/or frozen.


ROUNDS (MAKING)--On the Training Ship Golden Bear, the term, “making rounds” is when the cadet on watch in the engine room goes around to different machines and check them to see if they are functioning how they should be. It is not to be literally taken as making rounds in the ammunition sense. 


SSOP--The MMR program has been renamed the Strategic Sealift Officer Program. Its abbreviation SSOP should not be confused with the cry for help, SOS or with another word that reminds of the food they serve sometimes: slop.


SHAFT ALLEY--In the CMA Golden Bear training ship Shaft Alley is a room located on the 10ft level at the very back of the ship. Shaft Alley has the crank shaft going through the center and out the back of the ship where power then transfers to the propeller that drives the ship.


SALT & PEPPERS--In uniform terms, Salt and Peppers is slang for the uniform that consists of the white dress shirt, bars, formal hat, and black pants. Bars are the black shoulder boards with golden bars, to denote the ranking of an officer, that are worn in many ship uniforms. The term salt and pepper uniform is not to be confused with the salt and pepper dinner jacket.




SSDG--On the Training Ship Golden Bear, and on most ships in the maritime industry, the SSDG is an acronym for the Ship Service Diesel Generator, a diesel generator that provides electrical power for the entire ship while at sea, not to be confused with the main engine or the ship's emergency diesel generator.




STEAM SIM--In training for engineering plant management, the “Steam Sim” or more properly, the steam plant simulator, is used for training of students in typical engineering plant operations aboard ships.  The “Steam Sim” is more specifically a three part program which include the Part Task Trainer, or the PTT; the Full Mission Simulator; and the instructor’s computers/control station.  The part task trainer is used in whole plant management from a single computer screen/station which can control the entire simulated plant, not to be confused with the full mission simulator which is used for team management and physical plant operations.  The full mission simulator includes physical valves, pumps and propulsion boiler control panels and boiler exterior features such as the burners and all associated accessories located in a simulated engine room so that the students are immersed in real time plant operation and trouble shooting.  The instructor’s computers are used as a collection point for all data gathered from the full mission simulator and the part task trainer in order for the instructors to evaluate each student’s progress in the class.  The instructor’s monitoring station is used for overview of the student’s actions taken throughout the class.






SUPER RES--is a term used at CMA to refer to McAllister Hall, the newest residence hall, which is located farthest up the hill of the three residence halls. Super Res is called such because the two older residence halls--located downhill from McAllister Hall--have traditionally been called "lower res" and "upper res."  "Super Res" should not be confused with upper res, because if one were to walk to super res when told to go to upper res, one would have wasted large amounts of precious time and energy climbing stairs.


SWAB-- is a title given to first year students. A swab can also be considered to be a person with little experience and no rank.  In other words, a person who is so untalented, the only way they can help is by cleaning.


SYSTEMS--An engineering student slang term for technical diagrams or schematics, hand drawn by first year engineering students detailing all mechanical components and mechanisms on board the Training Ship Golden Bear. Not to be confused with any engineering systems classes, where the engineering students learn the exact functions of the components they diagramed.


TWO-A-DAYS—At California Maritime Academy, everyone is required to stand watch.  For weekend watch, you are given not just one time to stand watch in that day, but rather two times to stand watch in that 24-hour period. This is considered a "two-a-day" because you have two watches in one day. This is not to be confused with the football term "two-a-day," meaning practice before and after your school or work hours.


WIPER--In the ship's engine room, a wiper is the lowest occupation of a crew member, who's main job is to wipe and clean machinery while on watch.  This position is given to the 4th Class Cadets who report to the Watch Engineer.




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