Imperial Navy Terminology
Chain of Command

In addition to the rank structure of its personnel, the Imperial Navy has an organisational 'rank' structure. At the top of the Chain of Command is the Admiralty. Below this comes High Command, then Fleet Command, then First Command, and finally the senior bridge officers of a capital class ship.

Admiralty: The Imperial central government is organised into a series of Ministries. The Ministry for the Imperial Navy is called the Admiralty. Rather than being run by a Minister the Admiralty is run by the Grand Admiral.

High Command: The leadership of all fleets within a theater of operations. In peacetime this is usually a sector, in times of war a theater may shift and grow with the progress of the war.

Fleet Command: The leadership of a fleet ... an Admiral and his staff officers.

First Command: The leadership of a squadron ... a Commodore and his staff officers. When the squadron is part of a fleet, First Command can become marginalised in importance as Fleet Command takes charge. But when a squadron is detached from a fleet, then First Command may be the most senior present.


Stars: The Admiral ranks (O7-O10), so-called because of their rank insignia.

Bars: Officers rank O1-O6, so-called because of their rank insignia. O1-O3 have gold bars and are called "Gold Officers". O4-O6 have iridium bars (supposedly representing the power of the Iridium Throne) and are called "Iridium Officers".

Pips: Petty Officers (naval non-commissioned officers) E4-E9, so called because of their rank insignia.

Tabs: Ratings rank E1-E3. So called due to their rank insignia.

(see also Imperial Ranks)

Admiral: The most senior Admiral present (including any Commodores, but not counting a Grand Admiral) is usually referred to just as "Admiral". Any other officers of these ranks present are then referred to as "Vice Admiral" or "Rear Admiral".

Butter Bar: Mildly derogatory slang for an Ensign (O1), so called because of the gold bar insignia.

Custody Officer: Title of someone assigned (temporarily or otherwise) to look after prisoners. May or may not be an actual officer. The Custody Officer is responsible for a prisoner's wellbeing and medical needs as well as ensuring against possible escape. (See Section IV Article 6 and 7 of the IN General Regulations.)

Fleet: Common nickname for the Admiral in charge of a fleet. Short for Fleet Admiral.

Goldie: Mildly derogatory slang for a 'Gold Officer (O1-O3).

Grot: Mildly derogatory slang for a maintenance person.

Mister ...: Standard form of address used by a superior officer to an inferior officer below the rank of captain. Used instead of the rank title. Used regardless of gender.

Sunrise Officer: A Petty Officer Second Class. Called this due to the somewhat unique design rank insignia. Often seen as a derogotory expression.

Top Hat: Slang expression for someone in charge ... usually the most senior officer present.

Ship Types

Base Ship: A large troop transport ship capable of carrying a division or larger unit, and of deploying them in ground operations. In other words, in addition to transporting troops a Base Ship must also carry enough landers and short term supplies of munitions to support those troops once they get to their destination.

Battleship: Jump-capable capital ship intended to stand in the line-of-battle in space combat. (See also Battle Rider)

Battle Rider: Non-jump-capable capital ship intended to stand in the line-of-battle in space combat, and carried interstellar by a battle tender. (See also Battleship)

Battle Tender: Interstellar ship transport intended to carry two to ten battle riders into combat.

Boat: A system defence boat.

Carrier: Starship whose main role is the transportation and deployment of fighters.

Command Carrier: A battle tender designed to stay on the line of battle rather than retreat after lauching its battle riders. While individually impressive, many see them as a bastardised hybrid of the battleship and battle tender concept ... less cost effective than either a pure battleship or a pure battle tender.

Corvette: Out of favour for some time, corvettes are being reintroduced into Imperial Service. Corvettes are small starships that can function as Destroyer Escorts but are intended for independant operations.

Crate: A low-tech transport pod. (See "Transport Pod".)

Cruiser: Starship capable of independent operations and of support of the main line-of-battle. Cruisers come in a variety of different types: Heavy, Light, Strike, Armoured, etc.

Destroyer: Originally a starship designed for escort duty and limited independent operations. As the new type of 'Escort Destroyers' becomes more common, traditional Destroyers are becoming much more independent.

Destroyer Escorts: Small starships intended to be light support craft for larger ships, usually Destroyers.

Escort Destroyers: A relatively new type of starships intended to be support craft for larger ships, usually Battle Tenders, Command Carriers, and the like.

Frigate: Out of favour for some time, frigates are beginning to be reintroduced into Imperial Service. Frigates are starships that can function as Escort Destroyers but are intended for independant operations. Sometimes called mini-cruisers.

Prowler: Slang expression for a space Fighter typically used on long range recon.

Sky Diver: Slang expression for a Strike Fighter ... a space Fighter typically used to enter an atmosphere and engage COACC units.

Transport Pod: Slang expression for any non-combat small craft (ship's boat, pinnace, shuttle, cutter, etc).

Naval Bases

Not all naval bases are created for the same reason, there are several broad types. Often its not a case of certain types having certain facilities so much as cetain types will have some of their facilities more developed than others.

Alpha Base: An advanced or forward base. Typically found along the Imperial border an Alpha Base will have an extensive intelligence section and often a number of small recon starships.

Beta Base: A naval base focused on building ships. In addition to the base's shipyards there will be extensive industry either nearby on the host planet or on a number surrounding systems.

Gamma Base: A naval base focused on research. Similar to an Imperial Research Station but (a) exclusively for the Imperial Navy, and (b) more for application development than pure research.

Delta Base: A diplomatic outpost. Found either on (a) new member worlds to facilitate integration of a local military into the Imperial ranks, (b) on culturally mature member worlds with significant planetary or subsector forces, or (c) in troubled regions (diplomacy is just another weapon in the Imperial arsenal).

Epsilon Base: A fleet home port. When a fleet has been based out of a specific system for a length of time a logistical support operation evolves. There are expended ship repair facilities, supply stockpiles, and extensive staff facilities. The size of the local R&R facilities are also boosted.

Sigma Base: A supply dump. While it may have normal day-to-day operations, its primary purpose is to stockpile supplies, spare parts, etc.

Theta Base: A training base. Many (but not all) Theta Bases are Naval Academies.

Zeta Base: Some naval bases have served their purpose and have been scaled down, others are built to "show the flag" but little else. Such low-priority bases are Zeta Bases.

(see also Imperial Navy Bases)


Adaptive Interface Link: A data communications 'device' (could be software) for joining otherwise incompatable computers. An adaptive interface link will 'ping' a target computer and analyses the speed and format of the response, trying to determine by trial and error a working protocol. Even after successful two-way communications have been established an adaptive interface link will continue to refine the protocol ... improving it, making it faster and more efficient.

Archive: A collection of snapshots of a database kept for historical or audit purposes. (See "Database" and "Snapshot".)

Channel: Alternative name for a data or communications link. For example: when a channel is opened between the ship's computer and a security camera, a data stream from the camera can be recorded onto a data spool. (See "Data Stream" and "Data Spool".)

Command Sequence: Standard naval computer programs consist of compiled binary 'primatives' hard-wired into ROM cartidges, and higher level 'command sequences' which call these primatives. As primatives are hard-wired most programming that takes place onboard consists of altering the command sequencies only.

Command Subprocessor: Part of a computer that processes a command sequence. For example: a computer with 4 subprocessors can execute 4 command sequences simultaneously. [The CPU number of a computer in Book 2 is the number of primary command subprocessors it has. Each workstation has its own secondary subprocessor.]

Database: A collection of related data files, internally cross-referenced. (See "Data File" and "Library".)

Data Crystal: A data storage media using Zuchai crystals. They are reuseable "write once, read once" devices.

Data File: A collection of related data from one or more data spools. (See "Data Spool".)

Data Spool: A recorded stream of data in a computer system. Not to be confused with "data file". A file is a collection of related data. That data may be part or all of one or more data spools. For example, each high security area inboard a starship may have a record of all accesses (each area's access record could be a data spool), and a file of an individual officer's accesses would be a portion of each data spool. (See "Data Stream" and "Channel".)

Data Stream: A stream or series of data. For example, a security camera will output a data stream. (See "Data Spool" and "Channel".)

Data Tile: Standard issue read/write data storage media. A solid state memory waffer encased in a plastic square. Many personnel have "music tiles" (a data tile containing music files) to insert into portable players.

Data Well: A repository or collection of libraries. Some, like the Naasirka Lakatoro Public Data Well (on Efate/Regina) can be immense (with billions of libraries). Others, like those found on squadron flagships, are relatively smaller. (See "Library".)

Ident Chip: Navy dog-tags with built in microcircuitry to autheticate the wearer. Ident Chips contain the retina scan and DNA profile of the owner plus current security permissions. They are frequently checked for access to high security areas or to access secured computer terminals. Ident Chips use strong encryption methods to preserve authenticity and make forgeries extremely difficult.

Inquiry: Term meaning to request information from a database. Results are returned either as opened data files or as summaries of data files. (See "Database" and "Data File".)

Library: A static (or seldomly changing) database. (See "Database" and "Library Data".)

Library Data: A typical ship's encyclopedia.

Mission Pack: A specialised tablet. There is no tile reader, but there is integral memory equivalent to a tile, a data port (input only), and an Ident Chip reader (for basic authorisation). Mission packs are used to pass mission briefings ... instructions, maps, related data, etc. (See "Data Tile", "Ident Chip", and "Tablet".)

Music Tile: See "Data Tile".

Primative: See "Command Sequence".

Security Permission: Official term for a specific authorisation to enter a high security area or access a secure computer terminal or workstation. A virtual key. A ship captain typically has all the Security Permissions relevant to his ship, subordinate officers will have subsets of these. As an officer aquires Security Permissions they are usually downloaded onto his Ident Chip.

Snapshot: A copy of a database taken at a moment in time ... a record of the data in that database at that time. Once made snapshots do not change. (See "Archive" and "Database".)

Tablet: A rugged portable display unit. Basically a touch-sensitive flat screen (200mm x 275mm x 10mm) with an integral tile reader. (See "Data Tile".)

Tile: See "Data Tile".

Tile Reader: Usually part of another device, workstation, etc. Tile readers are used to access (read and write) data on a data tile. See "Data Tile".

Example: A ship has a security camera watching each airlock. A "channel" is opened from the main computer to each security camera. Once opened a "data stream" is sent from the camera to the computer where it is stored as a "data spool". Relevant sections of each data spool are then indexed as "data files" (one per individual). These data files are then in turn stored and indexed in a security "database". Later, inqueries made to the security database by anyone with an appropriate "security permission" will return data files and/or summaries of data files.


90-Day Wonder: Derogatory slang for a graduate of OCS. The derision arises from the lack of experience and naval knowledge of the typical graduate. Commonly seen as "90-Day Blunder".

A-gang: Auxiliaries Division of the Engineering Department. These personnel operate and maintain the ship's auxiliary equipment (aka Hotel Services).

All green: Slang expression meaning everything is okay. (See also "All green by the board".)

All green by the board: Slang expression meaning everything appears okay. Expression comes from a status board where all the indicators are green ... but indicators cannot always be relied on.

Amateur Night: When nothing seems to go right.

ASAP: Standard abbreviation for "As Soon As Possible. (Pronounced "A-Sap".)

Barn: Slang expression for a transport pod bay. (See also "Transport Pod" in the ship types section, and "Kennel".)

Bird: Slang expression for a missile or other unmanned powered object (such as a sensor drone). Tends not to be used in relation to mass volleys. (See "Birds Free" and "Birds Tight".)

"Birds Free": Permission has been granted to fire missiles. (See "Birds Tight".)

"Birds Tight": Permission to fire missiles has been refused. (See "Birds Free".)

Bravo Zulu: Communications slang expression meaning "Manoeuver well executed" or more simply "Well done". (Origin unknown.)

Bubble boy: Slang expression for an individual (any gender) in a rescue bubble.

Bucket and spade job: Slang expression for planetside burial duty.

Cabal, The: Nickname for IN Intelligence or, sometimes, a fleet's Inteligence Department. (Not to be confused with the Imperial Army/Marine nickname for the CBL-532-F Battledress Sensor Rig.)

Cinderella Liberty: Liberty where one must be back aboard by midnight (ship time). (See "Liberty".)

Cold: Slang expression used meaning no life present. Typically used to refer to a derelict ship or an abandoned base.

Crawler: Slang expression for a ground vehicle (tracked or wheeled).

Data Crystal: See "Computer" section.

Data Tile: See "Computer" section.

Deal: Slang expression for launching one or more fighters. Usually only used when there are a lot of fighters. Variations: "deal a new hand" means to launch all fighters, as does "deal us in" (typically given as a order by the ship's Captain or XO). (See "Deck of cards".)

Deck of cards: Slang expression for the fighters carried aboard a single ship. Usually used when referring to a large number of fighters. Example: a Wind class Strike Carrier has 2 decks of cards, one of Fury class Heavy Fighters and one of Hawk class Strike Fighters ... in this case there are 40 cards in each deck. (See "Deal".)

Directions ...
   Forward: The direction the ship is facing.
   Aft: The opposite direction to forward.
   Port: Left (relative to the direction of the ship).
   Starboard: Right (relative to the direction of the ship).

Directions (aboard ship) ...
   Bow: The front of the ship.
   Stern: The back of the ship.
   Port Side: The left side of the ship.
   Starboard Side: The right side of the ship.
   Dorsal: The top of the ship.
   Ventral: The bottom of the ship.

Disruptor: Official term for a Naval Intelligence agent who's primary mission is sabotage.

"Executive Override": Sometimes a ship captain will give an order that violates standard procedures. A crewman might rightly object (especially if its a safety procedure). If the ship captain then says "Executive Override" it means the ship captain acknowledges the crewman's concern but the order should be carried out anyway without further debate. The crewman is absolved from any negative consequences that follow. Although technically this has never been made official policy it is a long standing tradition.

Face plant: Slang expression meaning to crash onto a planet.

Flash Card: Term used to report a nuclear detonation, normally spaceside. (Example: "We have a Flash Card bearing 037.116")

Flight Team: Official term for the pilot (or most senior pilot when more than one) and navigator (or most senior navigator when more than one) currently flying the ship. On smaller ships where the piloting and navigation roles are performed by the same crewman then this term is usually not applied.

Food Cubes: Ships cannot carry enough fresh food for their crews for extended periods of time. Thus organic matter aboard ship is recycled as food via algae vats. Shaped into cubes, flat squares, or 'macaroni', these mixes of protein, carbohydrates, sugars, and fats, supplement fresh food. Food cubes cannot replace fresh food entirely as they often lack many vitamins and other neutriants but they can bulk out fresh food reducing the amount needed to be carried.

Full Trick: See "Trick".

Goram: Slang expression used by ratings. Corruption of "God Damn". Used as an expletive (as in "Those goram fighters are attacking our troop transports!").

"Go to Blackout": A order from the captain (or executive officer) to reduce power consumption to a bare minimum and enter stealth mode.

Groundhugger: Slang expression for a planet-dweller. (See "Slopes".)

Ground Zero: Target point for an ortillery strike.

Gullet: Slang expression for the front end of a spinal mount weapon. Sometimes used to refer to just in front of the spinal mount weapon.

Hands Off Approach: See "Hands On Approach".

Hands On Approach: To reduce accidents docking maneuvers are typically performed by computer (referred to as "hands off"). However, occasionally it is necessary to perform a docking maneuver manually (referred to as "hands on").

Having an open day: Slang expression for a ship or station with multiple hull breaches. (See "Open".)

Hotel Services: Power and water used for auxiliary equipment (non-engineering and non-lifesupport equipment such as freshers, food cookers, laundry machines, etc).

Humped: Slang expression used by ratings. Literal meaning to have had sex. Used as an expletive (as in "We've been humped!").

Ident Chip: See "Computer" section.

Intelligence: The gathering and sifting of data on conditions in the operational area (including where the enemy is and what are their strengths and weaknesses). Not to be confused with Security (physical shipboard security) or "Naval Intelligence" (a naval department originally created to gather intelligence but now engaged in espionage and counter-espionage).

Intimate: Slang expression used by ratings for being in visual range of the enemy.

Irregular Operations team: A pool of maverick misfit junior officers assigned to a fleet or base who do not have a regular assignment. Typical I-Ops (Irregular Operations) can include Search & Rescue missions, courier duty, covert surveilance, prisoner transportation, etc.

Kennel: Slang expression for a fighter bay. (See also "Barn".)

Kill Shot: A fast acting nerve poison injected into the neck. Used be Special Forces to execute prisoners, agents as a form of suicide to avoid live capture, and medical staff as a form of battlefield euthanasia when a patient can't be saved.

Liberty: Slang expression for permission to be absent from a ship or station for a period of up to 48 hours. Anything longer is "leave" and comes out of an individual's annual leave entitlement. (See "Cinderella Liberty.")

Light Bulb: Slang expression meaning when a ship or boat goes active with its sensors.

Mama/Papa: "Mama" is a slang expression used by fighter pilots. It means the ship upon which they were based. "Papa" is a slang expression used by fighter pilots. It means the squadron flagship.

Missile types ...
   OSM: Orbit-to-surface missile. A missile intended to be fired from an orbiting ship or station at a target on the ground ... a planetary bombardment missile.
   SOM: Surface-to-orbit missile. A missile intended to be fired from the ground at a target in orbit ... a planetary defence missile.
   SM: Ship missile. A standard missile intended for ship to ship use. Most SM designs can be used in an OSM role if required.

Mission Pack: See "Computer" section.

Mudball: Slang expression for a habitable world.

Music Tile: See "Data Tile" in "Computer" section.

Nerve Shot: A fast acting, but non-lethal and non-permanent, nerve poison injected into the neck. Used by medical staff to block extreme pain. In addition to blocking all sensations it renders the patient completely unable to move.

Odd Job Squad: Mildly derogatory slang expression for an Irregular Operations team.

Open: From "open to space". An airlock is "open" when the space side door is open and the ship side door is closed, an entire ship can be "open" as the result of a hull breach, etc.

Ortillery: Orbital artillery ... weapons used to strike ground targets from orbit.

Platform: Standard term referring to any spinal mount equiped ship.

Poison pill: Slang expression for a Disruptor. (See "Disruptor".)

Pop/Popped: Slang expression meaning to detonate a nuclear warhead.

Protection: A recognised naval tradition whereby a ship captain can place an individual or group under his or her protection. That means that the ship captain, and the crew, must do everything possible to ensure the safety and well-being of the 'protectees'. If protection is given but not honoured this can sometimes cost an officer his commission.

Protocol: Official term for a procedure. Personnel are expected to know all the security protocols and operational protocols relevant to their rank and position.

Recyc': Ships cannot carry enough fresh water for their crews for extended periods of time. Thus waste water aboard ship is recycled. Despite a high degree of purity many claim they can recognise recyc' by the metallic aftertaste.

Rock: Slang expression for an airless world or asteroid.

Rockhound: Slang expression for a belter (asteroid miner/prospector).

Rutting: Slang expression used by ratings. Literal meaning sexual intercourse. Used as an expletive (as in "Where's the rutting target?").

Ship’s Company: Refers to the officers and men assigned to the ship.

Ship kill expressions ...
   Roast/Roasted: Slang expression meaning to 'kill' a ship with a spinal mount meson gun hit.
   Burn/Burnt: Slang expression meaning to 'kill' a ship with a spinal mount PAWS hit.
   Fry/Fried: Slang expression meaning to 'kill' a ship with energy weapons (plasma or fusion) or sub-spinal PAWS hit.
   Gut/Gutted: Slang expression meaning to 'kill' a ship with a massive missile volley.

Sizzle/Sizzled: Slang expression for radiation damage to electrical/computer components.

Slopes: Derogatory slang expression for a low-tech planet-dweller. ("Slope" as in sloped forehead, no frontal lobe, etc). (See "Groundhugger".)

Smack: Slang expression meaning to cash into another ship or station.

SPANaR: Starport Authority Navigation Rules. A standardised set of laws and procedures governing the navigation of ships, craft, and other spaceborne and airborne vehicles designed to reduce the chance of an accident or collision. (Pronounced "Spanner".)

Strike: Ground assault operations. For example: a Strike Fighter is one whose design is focused on engaging COACC and army units.

Tablet: See "Computer" section.

Task Force: A temporary grouping of ships for a specific mission. A task force can be a few ships or a full-sized fleet.

TDY: Temporary Duty.

Tile: See "Data Tile" in "Computer" section.

Trick: A period of duty spent on the bridge that is usually less than a full Watch period. When a Trick is a full Watch period it is referred to as a "Full Trick".

Tumbling down: Slang expression for standard tactics for mass assault with jump troops. Such a mass assault calls for a seemingly chaotic cloud of drop capsules, decoys, and OSM missiles, to hit the target site at roughly the same time.

Unzipped: Slang expression referring to the effect of someone hit by gauss fire.

Watch: A division of the day (usually 4 hours). Shipboard routine is organised around Watch periods.
   2000-2400 - First Watch (aka Evening Watch)
   0000-0400 - Second Watch (aka Mid Watch)
   0400-0800 - Third Watch (aka Morning Watch)
   0800-1200 - Fourth Watch (aka Forenoon Watch)
   1200-1600 - Fifth Watch (aka Afternoon Watch)
   1600-2000 - Sixth Watch (aka Dog Watch)

XM: Standard abbreviation for an x-boat message. (Pronounced "Ex Em".)

"Zulu Five Oscar": Personnel making a deliberate attempt to board a ship unauthorized, usually at the direction of higher authority to test security procedures. The standard intruder drill.

Zulu Time: Typically, a ship will adjust its clocks incrementally during a voyage so as to be in sync with local time at the destination upon arrival. But ships in a fleet must be able to coordinate their actions. Thus there is an official fleet time ... known as Zulu Time. Zulu Time uses a standard 24 hour clock and is written hhmmZ (eg 0800Z).

(see also Everfresh Sandwiches)



Copyright © Peter Trevor 2021
RIPA Notice: No consent is given for interception of page transmission