Jackspeak: Close Up and Closed Up

Mark Nelson 

The term close up may refer to a flag hoisted to the full extent of a halyard, with the head of the flag touching the block; e.g., ‘Flag Romeo close up’ indicates a ship is ready to participate in a replenishment at sea (RAS).

When a signal flag is not close up, it may be at the dip, meaning it is placed halfway up the flag hoist, indicating an action is about to occur; e.g., ‘Flag Romeo at the dip’ means the ship is preparing for replenishment at sea. The dip can also describe a person who is about to do something. For example, ‘Are you going for a run?’ Response, ‘I’m at the dip’.

Close up might also be used as a verb in an order made via a pipe over the ship’s broadcast system or a verbal order, meaning for sailors to proceed to a place of duty, i.e., ‘Cable party, close up!’

Closed up can be used to describe a sailor performing a duty; i.e., ‘Bloggins is closed up on the helm’. The same term is used to describe a sailor who is competent, alert, and professionally deporting themselves; i.e. ‘Since his QL5 course, Bloggins is really closed up’. A similar term is switched on, which can be used to describe someone competent and alert. All about can also be used to describe a clever, snappy, and efficient sailor. Seamanlike is used to positively describe anything befitting a seaman (now referred to as sailor) or indicating competent seamanship, i.e. ‘Bloggins tied the bowline quickly, in a good seamanlike manner’.

The United States Navy refers to a closed up sailor as ‘A.J. Squared-away’, a mythical sailor known to be perpetually well-organized. Squared away is a phrase used in most nautical contexts and indicates that a space or piece of equipment is organized or ready for an inspection. It is derived from a term used when a sailing ship’s square sails were raised before the wind, and the ship was able to get underway.

Bristol fashion is a term from the Royal Navy that describes anything smart and seamanlike. It was first used to describe ships sailing out of Bristol, England, which were known for being well-organized and tidy.

A sailor who never shirks duties and carries them out to the letter is said to be ‘All for George’. Largely a historical term, it began to be used during the Second World War when King George VI was the reigning monarch. No equivalent term seems to have been invented when Queen Elizabeth II came to power or, now, King Charles.

When I was a young sailor in HMCS Preserver, I recall being sent aloft to assist in an inspection of the TACAN antenna. Before we climbed up the stick, the Radar Chief instructed, ‘One hand for the Queen’, meaning we needed to use one hand to work (for the Queen) and the other hand to hang on tightly. Today the term would be, ‘One hand for the King’.

You will find over 4,000 examples of Jackspeak in my book Jackspeak of the Royal Canadian Navy (2nd ed.).

The author of ‘Jackspeak of the Royal Canadian Navy’ and ‘Whiskey 601’, Mark Nelson developed a love of the Navy’s language and lifestyle over his 26-year career in the service. After retiring as a Chief Petty Officer Second Class, he now works as a Library Systems Specialist at Red River College Polytechnic in Winnipeg, Man.

Follow Mark on Twitter @4marknelson

Filed Under: Top Stories

About the Author:

RSSComments (0)

Trackback URL

Comments are closed.