5.3. Helpful Etiquette and Customs
5.4.1. Life in a Wardroom
Chaplains who go on courses will experience accommodation which varies enormously depending on where the course is taking place. Certain training centres are reasonably rudimentary while others enjoy the full panoply of life in a naval wardroom. The ability to adapt to these circumstances is essential if we are to understand the life of adult personnel in the Sea Cadet Corps and serve the Cadets successfully. Although in the Navy Chaplains are the same status of whoever they are addressing, for administration purposes they are treated as officers, and as such are accommodated in the Wardroom. It is important to remember that this is “home” to the permanent staff who are called the “livers in”. The Head of the Family in the Wardroom is normally the Commander of the Establishment and he may vary local rules according to his whim and wishes.
22.214.171.124. “Warning In”
This is often done for you in the Sea Cadet Training establishment but if not you will be required to fill in a fairly simple form which will allow them to forward anything that you might leave and inform your next of kin if anything drastic happens! There is normally a deposit required in relation to keys, etc. and there are some daily messing charges which are remarkably cheap considering the luxury in which we are living.
The bedroomsitting room areas are all called cabins and are remarkably luxurious nowadays. Most modern cabins are “en suite” though some still require you to go off to communal showers and bathrooms. If you are in one of these and using a shower, it’s polite to shout “turning on” before using the shower since it normally does have an effect on water pressure, especially if you are on a “real ship” such as HMS BRISTOL. It is normal for you to receive a cup of tea in the morning and if you require to be roused earlier they will provide you with a “shake”, i.e. somebody will come and wake you. However, increasingly it is necessary for you to book this service and in the Ward Room of HMS EXCELLENT there is a pro forma on the Hall Porter’s desk which you should complete. In most wardrooms your bed will be made for you and wash basins cleaned etc., but you are expected to keep your cabin reasonably tidy. On the day of your departure there will be a specified time for you to “warn out” in which case you must return your key and collect any deposit.
126.96.36.199. Uniform in the Wardroom
Please do not leave your caps loafing around. They will tend to get impounded. There is always a row of hooks for caps normally near the “Heads” (toilets) and they should be hung there. Do not wear your cap after you have entered the door of the Wardroom and put it on the moment you leave. From breakfast through to late afternoon, it is normal to wear whatever your working rig is for the purpose of the activity you are doing. Because a Wardroom is deemed to be “home”, after 1830 people normally change into civilian rig. For Chaplains this will include collar and tie, a jacket and trousers and female equivalents – suit, blouse or skirt, etc. Most Wardrooms now have a “scruff bar” where the dress code is not enforced, and in some places it is frowned upon for Chaplains to enter. However, at HMS EXCELLENT they are most welcome. It is not permitted to eat in the dining room in this “scruff” rig; and, in fact, the “scruff bar” tends to be the place where the “livers in” get away from those who are on courses. Please respect their privacy. Before civilian dress code was enforced, it was the proper thing to go to the senior officer in the bar, stand to attention and say “excuse my rig, Sir”. This is less enforced now, but you might occasionally get a Commander who still likes this. In hot weather you will sometimes see a notice posted saying “Planter’s Rig”. Only if this is done may you remove your jacket in the Wardroom and occasionally short sleeves are permitted, but a tie is normally “de rigueur”.
Wardrooms will vary how they do this, but you should always check in at the beginning of each meal so that somebody knows you are there, and the accountancy department can be kept happy. Sometimes you will be given a mess number which you will need to quote, and sometimes your name will be taken. If you are staying for any length of time, you may well be issued with napkins which go into a pigeon hole with your mess number, if not paper napkins are always available. Meal times are specified in your cabin. Please always make sure that you have enough time to complete your meal before closing time. It is very unfair on Wardroom staff for somebody to turn up for a meal five minutes before the end of serving. The waiters and stewards are there to help you, but please treat them with some patience and respect. In the modern Navy the Wardrooms are normally run by understaffed and under pressure civilian contractors. Wardrooms vary on how much of breakfast and lunch is self service. Dinner is almost always formally served to you. If for any reason you leave the table, and especially when you leave at the end, it is always polite to ask other people to “excuse you”.
Breakfast is normally a meal at which there is not a great deal of conversation.
Certainly nothing hearty is to be encouraged. It is the only meal at which something may be read at table, but normally only a newspaper which is collected from the selection by the door.
If an officer is sitting apart reading a newspaper, leave her or im there. That’s the way they wishe to live!
188.8.131.52. The Bar
Most of the bars that Sea Cadet courses use are now on a cash basis, but if you are given a mess number you need to write a “bar chit” which explains what you want, e.g. one third gin and tonic. In other words a small gin and tonic equals one third G&T. The chit requires you to print your name, sign it and give your mess number.
Drinks in the Navy are considerably cheaper than ashore. It is not normal to buy rounds as such, though it is reasonable to offer another officer a drink.
Most bars have an area in front which indicates where you may stand.
Certainly the Navy does not “prop up the bar” but moves away as soon as the officer has been served.
Unless extensions are in operation, bar times are similar to the civilian world.
Although there is a tradition of drinking in the Navy, it is not considered appropriate for an officer to be drunk and certainly not for a Chaplain.
5.3.2. Mess Dinners
Naval Mess Dinners have certain, quite strict, traditions attached to them.
Sea Cadet Mess Dinners will aspire to the same standards. Candlelight, silver ware, bare polished tables with placemats, cutlery and serviettes, come from the tradition of Nelson’s habit of dining with his “band of brothers”, i.e. the officers with whom he served and whom he formed into a ferocious working team.
The meal is presided over by the Mess President, again normally the Commander.
A meal normally has a half an hour pre-prandial in order to give people a chance to meet and greet and check the seating plans.
You need to remember that you will not be allowed to leave the table once the meal has started and so, therefore, it is wise not to drink too much or at least take “wise and seamanlike precautions” before the beginning of the meal. There will always be a seating plan which you need to check so that you know where to go.
Once the dinner call has been sounded, you follow the Mess President into the dining room and take your place, standing behind your chair unless the Mess President has already sat down.
If a lady is seated to your left, remain standing until she arrives and then assist her into her chair. Do not touch anything on the table until after the first Grace. Grace is signalled by the Mess President bringing down his gavel.
After grace the gavel is banged again and the meal begins. It is a formal meal and you will be served by stewards.
If the plate is crested, always make sure the crest is at the 12 noon position. Never begin eating until the Mess President has started. This is so that each course will begin and end roughly at the same time. Never touch the Mess silver or any arrangements on the table. As with any formal meal, the cutlery works from the outside inwards.
At the end of the meal there will be a second Grace and all place settings, glasses, etc. will be removed. If you wish to keep your menu or place setting card remove it from the table. After the final Grace, port glasses will be placed in front of each person.
The Mess President removes the stoppers and the Port and Madeira is moved to the left down the tables. Take two thirds of a glass of either Port or Madeira and pass the decanters on to your left. If a lady is sitting beside you, you pour for her having asked her which she would require. When everybody has been served, the stoppers are put back in the decanters, the Mess President brings down his gavel and calls upon the Vice President of the Mess to propose a toast to the Queen. The Loyal Toast is always taken seated in a Naval Mess.
It is said that this goes back to the days of the Sailor King, George IV, who, when still Prince of Wales, leapt to his feet at the proposal of the Loyal Toast only to crack his skull on the deck head. On his accession, he is said, therefore, to have authorized the naval officers to drink the Toast seated ever since.
After that coffee is served and the Mess President will normally allow an “ease springs” which is the first and only excuse to leave the table for necessary purposes.
He may also allow smoking at this point.
Other toasts and speeches may well follow and these toasts are always taken standing.
At the end of the dinner, all stand and the Mess President leads the assembled company from the dining room.
5.3.3. Naval and SCC Abbreviations
AC Area Chairman
AC Able Cadet
ACh - Area Chaplain
ADO - Assistant District Officer
AO - Area Officer
ASC - Admiralty Sea Cadet (pulling/sailing boat)
ASCR - Appendix to SCR ASO - Area Staff Officer
AX - Quarter Deck
BC Bosun’s Call
BM - Bosun’s Mate
BR Book of Reference
Cdt - Cadet
CCh - Corps Chaplain
CI - Civilian Instructor
CM - Chaplains’ Manual
CO Commanding Officer
COMMS - Communications
CPO - Chief Petty Officer
CSC - Captain Sea Cadets
DC - District Chairman
DCh - District Chaplain
DCHQ - Damage Control Headquarters
DO - District Officer
DO - Divisional Officer
DPO - Divisional Petty Officer
ET Expedition Training
GI - Gunnery Instructor
HMS - Her Majesty’s Ship
HQTM - Headquarters Temporary Memorandum
JC - Junior Cadet
LS - Leading Seaman
LC Leading Cadet
LJ - Leading Junior
MAA - Master at Arms
MCD - Marine Cadet Detachment
MCO - Main Communication Office
MEO - Marine Engineering Officer
MOD - Ministry of Defence
MOD90 - Ministry Of Defence Official ID Card
MSSC - Marine Society and Sea Cadet Corps
NCCS - National Committee for Chaplaincy Service
NE New Entry
OCMD Officer in Charge Marine Detachment
OIC - Officer in Charge
OOD - Officer of the Day
OOW - Officer of the Watch
OC Ordinary Cadet
PO Petty Officer
POC - Petty Officer Cadet
PPO - Probationary Petty Officer
PSA - Parents and Supporters Association
QM - Quarter Master
QRRN - Queen’s Regulations for the Royal Navy
RM - Royal Marines
RMR - Royal Marines Reserve
RN Royal Navy
RNI - Royal Naval Inspection
RNR - Royal Naval Reserve
RPO - Regulating Petty Officer
RS Radio Supervisor
SCA - Sea Cadet Association
SCC - Sea Cadet Corps
SCh - Staff Chaplain
SCM - Sea Cadet Memorandum
SCR - Sea Cadet Regulations
SDW - Senior Duty Watch
SLR - Self Loading Rifle
SMB - Small Motor Boat
SUPT - Superintendent
TI - Training Instructions
TrI Trainee Instructor
TS - Training Ship
UA - Unit Assistant
UC Unit Chairman
UCh - Unit Chaplain
UMC - Unit Management Committee
XO - Executive Officer
5.3.4. Naval and SCC Glossary
The Boss - The Commanding Officer
Number One/Jimmy - The First Lieutenant
Two and a Half - Lt. Commander
The Padre / The Bish / God Botherer / Sky Pilot / Sin Bosun / HALO (High Altitude Liaison Officer) - The Chaplain
The Galley - The Kitchen
The Heads - The Toilets
The Bulkheads - The Walls
The Deck - The Floor
The Deckhead The Ceiling
A Killick - A Leading SeamanLeading Cadet
Aft - The rear or stern of the ship
For’ard - The front or bow of a ship
CO’s Divisions - Inspection of Ship’s Company
Swords and Medals - A special ceremonial occasion
The Andrew - The Royal Navy
Starboard - Right-hand side of the ship looking forward
Port - Left-hand side of the ship looking forward
Brow - The entranceway to a ship.(The point at which you stop and salute when entering/leaving.)
The Jaunty/The Master - Master at Arms
Coming Aboard - Joining the Unit
Going Ashore - Leaving the Unitgoing home
Wardroom - In the SCC, the adults’ recreation space and in the Navy the Officers’ Mess
Pulling - Rowing in “Naval Speak”
Amidships - The centre of the vessel
Dog Watch - The “split shift” of two hours each between 1600 and 2000 designed to avoid people having the same watch every day.
SLOPS - Cash Clothing Store
This is by no means a definitive list of the terms you may come across. For a fuller detailed list, the book ‘Jackspeak’ has over 4000 terms and definitions, most of which you would not want to use as a Chaplain (let the reader understand), but it may in terms of being as wise as serpents (Mat 10:16) may be useful to know or at least look up.