- - Thursday, July 3, 2014


“Off the Beaten Path: National Museum of the U.S. Navy gives public a sense of living on warship” (Web, July 1) was interesting, and I hope it motivates many to tour the USS Barry (DD-933), the sister ship of the USS Blandy (DD-943), on which I served from 1963 to 1964. Both ships are Forest Sherman Class destroyers designed for anti-submarine warfare.

Nomenclature is an important part of U.S. Navy tradition, so with a tip of the hat to writer Samantha Scorzo, allow this retired Navy captain to translate: The destroyer’s runged walkway is called the gangway, the ship’s many hallways are called passageways, its stairs are called ladders, the boardroom is called the wardroom, doors are called hatches and the bathroom is called the head.

The term “wardroom” originates in 18th-century England, where ships with small compartments near the officers’ mess and staterooms, used for storing pirate booty, were referred to as “wardrobes.” When the wardrobe was empty, officers gathered there for meals and relaxing. In post-pirate days, the wardrobe compartment was used as a room exclusively for officers, and it was then termed “wardroom.”

“Head” comes from the place where sailing ship crews relieved themselves. It was all the way forward on either side of the bowsprit, to which the figurehead was attached.

Anchors aweigh!


U.S. Navy (retired)

Chevy Chase

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