Glossary

A

Aerials – wires strung over the top of the ship between the masts that also served to transmit and receive radio signals.

B

Beam – width of the ship

Bridge – the command center of the ship.  The term originates from the days of paddle wheelers when it was an actual “bridge” connecting the paddle wheels on either side of the ship.

Bridge wing – the part of the bridge that juts over the side of the ship to provide the officers a good view of the seas around the ship.

Bow – forward end of the ship, usually pointy.

Bulkhead – wall on a ship

Bunker – storage space for coal

C

Capstan – a machine that rotates round a vertical axis turned by a motor or lever used for hauling in heavy ropes.

Companionway – staircase on a ship

Contraband – goods prohibited by law from being imported or exported, not limited to munitions but any kind of food, clothing, and medical supplies that could be used to assist belligerents in times of war.

Corridor – hallway on a ship

CQD – an early distress call that pre-dates SOS

Crow’s Nest – the main lookout point on a ship, usually on the foremast.

D

Davit – the system of cranes used to launch lifeboats.

Decedent – legal term for deceased.

Deck – floor on a ship.

Deckhouse – a non-load-bearing structure on the top of a ship’s hull.  Deckhouses beyond a certain size are known as superstructures.

Double Bottom – a safety feature where a ship has two layers of “skin” on the bottom to protect it from damage.

F

Fireman – a member of the engineering crew whose task is to feed the boilers with coal.

Flotsam – wreckage and any miscellaneous material floating on the water.

Forecastle (or Fo’c’sle) Deck (pronounced “folk-sol”) – the forward open deck of the ship.

Funnel – ship’s smokestack

G

Galley – kitchen on a ship

H

Horsepower – a name for several units of measurement of power, with definitions varying between 735.5 and 750 watts, used to measure the output of piston engines, turbines, electric motors, and other machinery.  Most countries now use the SI unit watt to measure power.

Hull – the load-bearing body of a ship, typically smooth and the lower part of which is immersed in the water when the ship is in service.

Knot – nautical miles per hour. 1 nautical mile = 6080 feet (1,853.184 meters) before it was redefined in 1970 as 1852 meters exactly.

I

Intestate – to die without leaving a will.

L

Longitudinal – running along the length of the ship

M

Magazine – storage facility for munitions.  Lusitania had one built into the forward end of the ship that was used for cargo.

P

Poop Deck – the deck on the rear end of the ship.

Port (side) – left side of the ship, facing forward.  This side is indicated by a red light hanging from the port side bridge wing.

R

Reciprocating engine – a piston engine that converts pressure into a rotating motion.

Rudder – device used to steer a ship.

S

Screw – propeller.  A “Quadruple Screw Steamer,” such as Lusitania, is a steamship with four propellers.

Stoker – see “fireman.”

Starboard – right side of the ship, facing forward.  This side is indicated by a green light hanging from the starboard side bridge wing.

Stern – back end of the ship, usually rounded, spoon-shaped, or boxy.

Superstructure – an enlarged deckhouse structure above the ship’s hull with sides flush with the hull.

T

Therefor – legal term “for that object or purpose”

Transverse – running across the beam of the ship

Trimmer – a member of the engineering crew in charge of adjusting distribution of coal among the bunkers to ensure that the ship is loaded evenly.

Turbine – a rotary engine that converts steam (or fluid) pressure into work

U

U-boat – submarine.  The term is an abbreviation of the German word for submarine, Unterseeboot (undersea boat).  In English, U-boat refers to submarines of the World Wars, whereas in German this distinction does not exist.

W

Watertight compartment – the division of a ship into smaller parts to limit flooding in case of damage to the ship.

Windlass – a lifting machine made of a horizontal cylinder turned by a crank or a motor so that a line (rope or chain) attached to the load winds around the cylinder.

Wireless (or wireless telegraph) – an early form of radio from the early 1900s.

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