Naval Units of Measurement
NB: These units are neither metric nor imperial but are of a scale that can be
precisely understood by the salt encrusted tar and his long suffering messmates.
2 squirts of cats piss: The exact amount of concern the COXN(1) shows you
when you advise him you have lost your wallet.
2/5 of 5/8 of the square root of FA: The formula used by DEFPAY(2) to
calculate pay increases after tax.
Age(s): The time it takes to get to the front of any queue.
Bee’s dick: The difference between the lengths of the piece of shoring(3)
you have cut too short and the actual distance it needs to stretch. This is only
discovered after an enormous amount of effort has been expended to get the
shoring back to where it was needed and just before discovering that there is no
more lumber available for shoring.
Buckets: The amount of ice cream available to the (apparently) vindictive
and mean minded cooks who have seemingly singled you out for ice cream
Bulk: The number of Chux cloths held by the Bosun’s Store which will
never be used.
Chockas: How full your boot bag has become over the course of one
Crock: The amount of misleading information given to you by a Leading
Hand(4) who thinks he’s funny.
Diddley squat: The amount of concern the entire mess feels when the cooks
run out of parsley.
Dollop: The amount of sunscreen which will cover all bare skin and be
absorbed without leaving a mess, and which you asked for in the first place.
Ginormous: The size of the piece of equipment you have to fit into a
compartment that is smaller than a shoe box.
Gutfull: The amount of experience required prior to discharge.
Heaps: The approximate amount of ice cream the guy in front of you has
been given by the cooks.
Huge: A point on an open-ended scale used to judge how good a run ashore
was which lies roughly between GREAT and BRILLIANT.
Humungous: The size of the bouncer you just called a “brainless shit
head” for not letting you into the club/pub (he claims you are too inebriated)
and who intends to discuss it with you in the car park.
Jot: The amount of physical effort required to turn off the lights when
you leave a compartment which is, amazingly, too much to expend.
Mega: A “new age” expression which indicates an exceptional run ashore(5)
where we had a great time, but just can’t remember the details right now.
Nipply: The temperature has dropped to the stage where you are covered in
Goosebumps but the QM6 will still not let you wear your woolley pulley.
Pinch-o-shit: The amount of misleading advice you include in good advice
which makes it hilarious and adds spice to vital points.
Poofteenth: The distance the end of your rifle barrel moved while you
were at attention in the guard which caused the POBM’s(7) red faced tirade and
apparent epileptic fit.
Poofteenth of a fairey’s fart: This is the exact amount by which your pay
will increase when you get promoted.
Schmick: This is a measurement of the minimum amount of common sense (CDF)
the new Seaman will require but which they appear not to have.
Shit tin: A weight measurement indicating the precise amount a person may
carry, plus kilograms
Shitload: Although often confused with Shit tin, this is an estimation of
the amount already carried from the wharf and around the ship before someone
finally decides where to store it. (Total distance of approx. 40 nautical miles)
Smidgen/smidge: Enough oil to lubricate a device and still leave enough
to drip freely onto a freshly painted deck.
Squillions: The contents of the pay packet of an average maintainer.
Stinking hot: The temperature achieved only in the tropics which is noted
when the paint dries on the brush before it can be applied to the deck.
Stuff all (1): The amount of ice cream you receive.
Stuff all (2): How much toilet paper is left in Naval Stores a week prior
to the end of the deployment.
Tad: A squirt of sunscreen that is slightly more than that required to
cover a patch of skin and will not be absorbed by the skin, but will leave
greasy smears on skin and clothing.
Truck loads: Approximate amount of stores which have been delivered to
the ship and which must be brought onboard by you and one scrawny writer (pay
clerk) with a bad back.
Yonks: Either the time it takes for seaweed to grow on the hull or to get
a chief out of the mess.
You beauties: An approximation on how new and useful a piece of equipment
is despite the user having no experience on it.
Zip: What’s left in your wallet after a good port.
1. COXN – The senior sailor onboard a Naval vessel who is responsible for
discipline and the regulation of the ship.
2. DEFPAY – Defence Pay.
3. Shoring – timber used to repair damage to a vessel.
4. Leading Hand – Naval vernacular for Leading Seaman, RAN rank equivalent to
5. Run Ashore – Naval colloquialism for a short period of shore leave, such as a
visit to the local art gallery, which sailors often enjoy …
6. QM – (Quarter Master) Sailor in charge of the ship’s gangway area.
7. POBM – (Petty Officer Bosun’s Mate) A senior seamanship specialist sailor.