This is the original glossary of terms from the 1995 PC game Silent Steel. These terms are only valid for the video game and should not be taken as scientific.
1-MC: The ship-wide intercom system aboard U.S. submarines.
Acoustic Beacon or Generator: A noisemaker.
Acoustic Homing: Modern torpedoes use either acoustic homing or wire guidance. An acoustic homing weapon uses on-board sonar to direct itself into its target.
Acoustic Library: A computer listing of all known sonar sounds, both natural and man-made, against which unknown contacts are compared in order to assist in identifying the unknown contact.
Active Homing: When a torpedo’s acoustic homing sonar is activated, the weapon is in “active homing” mode.
ACTUAL: A radio call-sign designation indicating that the officer-in-charge is responding to the transmission.
ADCAP–ADvanced CAPability: Latest version of the Mark 48 torpedo used by U.S. submarines.
Admiral “Wild Bill” Plaskett: Commander of Task Force Charlie One Tango, operating in the Atlantic Ocean near the Straits of Gibraltar.
Aft: The rearmost section of a ship.
Air Wing: Two or more squadrons of naval aircraft.
Akula: NATO designation for a Soviet submarine type. The Soviets do not reveal the actual class names of their vessels, so NATO randomly assigns designations based on the phonetic alphabet. The nuclear-powered Akula is the most advanced Soviet hunter-killer submarine and is on a par with early U.S. attack submarines.
Ambient Sound: Those sounds ordinarily occurring in nature.
ASROC–AntiSubmarine ROCket: Fired from ships, it is used to attack submarines. A solid fuel rocket boosts a homing torpedo to within 60 miles of the presumed location of an enemy submarine. Upon arrival in the target area, the torpedo is lowered into the water by parachute. Once in the water, the torpedo’s built-in acoustic homing guides it to the target.
ASW–AntiSubmarine Warfare: The art and science of hunting and destroying submarines.
Baffles: The cone-shaped area extending directly behind a submarine underway where sonar cannot detect any sounds due to the noise caused by the submarine’s own propeller.
Ballast: Large tanks are filled with seawater, which acts as weight, causing the submarine to lose buoyancy and sink. To surface, compressed air is pumped into the tanks, forcing the seawater out and restoring positive buoyancy.
Battle Stations: Areas throughout the ship which crew members man during engagements with the enemy. These may or may not be their standard assigned sections.
Bearing: The direction to a target in relation to your ship (the nose of your ship being 000 degrees).
Best Speed: The fastest speed a ship can maintain when sailing from one point to another, considering the need to refuel, snorkel, avoid restricted or dangerous areas, or slow to allow less capable vessels to keep up.
Biologic Effect: Sounds picked up by hydrophone or sonar which are caused by biological entities native to the sea.
Blow: A command issued to release ballast from a submarine by pumping compressed air into ballast tanks to force out seawater.
Blue-On-Blue Engagement: !122 Naval term for two or more U.S. ships believing the other to be the enemy and engaging one another.
Boat: Submarines were originally referred to as boats due to their smaller size. They are now as large or larger than many naval vessels and are considered ships. Generally a boat is a vessel that can be carried by a ship.
Bow: The nose or front of a ship.
Bow Planes: !125 Fin-like appendages, located on the bow of the submarine, used to control the angle of the dive.
Bridge: On a submarine, the small observation area on top of the fairwater or sail.
Burst Transmission: A pre-encoded transmission which is compressed and sent in its entirety in less than a second. Burst transmissions are used to minimize the exposure of the sender.
Captain’s Mast: Session aboard ship at which the captain administers non-judicial punishment or commends outstanding performance.
Carrier Battle Group: The most powerful tactical unit of the U.S. Navy, consisting of one or more aircraft carriers as well as ASW and anti-air escorts.
Cavalla: Submarine aboard which the XO of the USS Idaho once served.
Cavitation: In shallow water or during quick acceleration, a partial vacuum forms around the blades of the propeller resulting in the formation of tiny air bubbles which cause increased noise levels.
Charleston: Port city and naval base in South Carolina, home to the USS Idaho.
Charlie One Tango: Carrier Battle Group commanded by Admiral “Wild Bill” Plaskett.
ChEng–Chief Engineer: The officer in charge of maintaining the ships propulsion systems.
Chopped: Slang for a temporary duty assignment.
Class: Ship types are assigned to various classes based on type of construction and mission assignment. In the U.S. Navy, the name of the first vessel constructed within each class is assigned to the class. In the Soviet Navy, NATO assigns class names unless the Soviets release the class name.
Combat Depth: The maximum emergency depth at which a submarine can safely operate without jeopardizing the integrity of the hull.
Communication Buoy: A radio transmitter buoy released from a submerged submarine. The buoy may float for several hours before transmitting its message in an effort to frustrate any tracking attempts undertaken by an enemy to determine the actual location of the submarine.
Compartmentalized Information: The practice by which information is revealed on a “need-to- know” basis in order to maintain security.
COMSUBLANT–COMmander SUBmarines AtLANTic: The admiral in charge of all submarines in the Atlantic Ocean.
Conn–Conning Tower: The control room from which navigation and attacks are directed.
Contact: Sonar reference referring to receiving a return or picking up sound from an unknown source. Contacts are then assigned a designation as in “Sierra 25″ or “Sierra 27″, with the numerical designation referring to the chronological order in which the contact was made.
Convergence Zone: In deep water, the pressure can turn sound waves upward toward the surface. The sound waves then bounce off the surface to return to the depths where the pressure again forces it to the surface. This phenomenon may result in sonar contacts at greater than normal distances.
Corfam: The standard black U.S. Navy shoe.
Countermeasures: Devices launched from a submarine which imitate the noises generated by the submarine in an effort to draw enemy fire away from the actual submarine.
Dead Slow: Reference to a ship’s speed; in this case, only enough headway is maintained to allow steerage.
Deck Division: Those sailors assigned to work on deck when a submarine is surfaced.
Deputy Director Matthews: CIA official in charge of the information and events surrounding the USS Idaho.
Destroyer: A naval vessel, slightly larger than a frigate, usually equipped for either ASW or anti-air operations.
Diagnostic: A system’s check, usually performed by the operator when a malfunction is suspected.
Diesel Boat: Diesel submarines are actually powered by electric batteries. When the batteries run down, the submarine must recharge them by running diesel engines which require the submarine to either surface or use a snorkel device to provide sufficient air to run the diesel engines. When running on electric motors, these submarines are virtually silent.
Dipping Sonar: A helicopter-borne sonar which is lowered into the water by means of a cable, usually from an ASW helicopter. Data is transmitted from the sonar up the cable to the helicopter. After data has been gathered, the sonar is reeled back into the helicopter and re-lowered at a new location.
Diving Officer: The officer on a submarine responsible for overseeing submerging and surfacing the ship as well as maintaining the desired depth.
Down Bubble: A device used to measure the degree of downward incline when diving a submarine.
Drift Net: Type of fishing net set loose and allowed to drift which is later retrieved by the boat that dropped it off.
ELINT–ELectronic INTelligence: Sonar, radar and communications signals detected by receivers aboard patrol aircraft. This information is used to determine type and location of enemy vessels.
EMCON–EMission CONtrol: Electronic equipment sends out active signals, called emissions, that can be detected. Emission Control is used to restrict such transmissions and reduce the chance of detection.
Emergency Blow: Command reference to release ballast from a submarine by rapidly pumping compressed air into ballast tanks, without regard to noise generated, to force seawater of ballast tanks and enable an endangered submarine to reach the surface.
Enchilada: The whole kit n kaboodle. The whole shebang. Everything including the kitchen sink. A tasty Mexican food item wrapped in a tortilla and usually filled with chicken, beef and/or cheese. Slang meaning everything.
Engineering: Ship’s section responsible for maintaining equipment and systems.
Ensign: Lowest naval officer ranking.
Ensign Foster: Navigational and sonar officer aboard the USS Idaho.
Escape Trunk: A special hatch in a submarine built to allow entry and exit of individuals while submerged.
Evil Empire: Slang reference to the Soviet Union, popularized by former President Ronald Reagan.
EYES ONLY: Secrecy classification indicating that the message is to be read only by the person to whom it is addressed.
Fairwater: U.S. Navy term for the sail on a submarine.
Fast Attack: A class of submarines tasked with hunting and sinking other submarines.
Firing Point Procedure: Standard operating procedures used when launching a torpedo from a submarine.
Fish: Slang for torpedo.
Flank: Reference to a ship’s speed; in this case, the fastest emergency speed.
Foxtrot: NATO designation for a Soviet submarine type. The Soviets do not reveal the actual class names of their vessels, so NATO randomly assigns designations based on the phonetic alphabet. The Foxtrot is an older model, diesel-powered submarine often sold to Soviet block nations.
Frame 180: Submarines are constructed using numbered bulkheads or frames. Frames are numbered beginning at the bow and working aft. The numbering system allows for rapid location of damage or other events throughout the ship.
Full: In reference to a ship’s speed, the maximum standard power setting.
General Quarters: Command reference which indicates that crew members must man their battle stations.
Gertrude Telephone: Term originating from World War II to describe any equipment used for underwater communications.
Good Quiet: A condition under which all non-essential machinery and equipment is shut down in order to minimize the noise generated by a submarine.
Head: An original naval term for a toilet.
Helmsman: Crew position from which the attitude within the water and direction of travel of the submarine are controlled.
Homing Device: A device which produces a sound or signal which can be used for tracking any vessel to which the device is attached.
Hull Effect: Noise caused by the hull of the ship or by something attached to the hull.
Hydrophone Effect: Contact made via hydrophones.
Hydrophone: A passive sonar. Hydrophones are sensitive listening devices used to pick up sound waves moving through the water. Passive sonar has the advantage of not making any noise and, therefore, not alerting an enemy to your presence.
Ice Cream 27: Call-sign designation for the ASW helicopter in Silent Steel.
Ivan: Slang term referring to Soviet forces or equipment.
Kilo: NATO designation for a Soviet submarine type. The Soviets do not reveal the actual class names of their vessels, so NATO randomly assigns designations based on the phonetic alphabet. The Kilo is an older model, diesel-powered submarine often sold to Soviet block nations.
King’s Bay: The harbor in Charleston, South Carolina.
Knots: A measurement of speed; one nautical mile-per-hour.
Kodiak, Alaska: The last naval station on Earth a naval officer would want to be assigned, except maybe Diego Garcia, an island in the Indian Ocean.
LF Signal–Low Frequency Signal: Radio frequency used for submarine communications.
Liaison-Authorized: Terminology included in a ship’s orders allowing communication between that ship and a named recipient.
Line Handling Party: Those sailors in the Deck Division responsible for the various lines used to secure the submarine to a dock or pier.
Locator Operations: Search operations aimed at locating an enemy vessel.
Lock Out: To put a diver outside a submarine while submerged, via the airlock.
Los Angeles Class: A class of U.S. Navy high-speed nuclear attack submarines.
Lt. Wheeler: Communications Officer aboard the USS Idaho.
Main Control: The control room from which navigation and attacks are directed.
Master Chief Jollen: Chief of the Boat aboard the USS Idaho.
Master Chief: Highest enlisted rank.
Med–Mediterranean: Mediterranean Sea.
Mister: Reference which may be used when speaking to any naval officer below the rank of Commander.
Mark 48 ADCAP Torpedo: An advanced capability wire-guided or acoustic homing torpedo which is faster, can dive deeper, and has improved electronics and acoustics over its predecessors.
Missile Deck: The area on deck directly above the missile silos on a ballistic missile submarine.
Movement: Term referring to a ship’s scheduled departure for a cruise or patrol.
Nautical Mile: 1852 meters; almost two kilometers.
NATO: North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Nav Materials: The various charts, courses and speed required to navigate a ship at sea.
New London: New London, Connecticut, home of General Dynamics Electric Boat Company, builder of submarines for the U.S. Navy.
Noise Signature: The sounds generated by the normal operation of a ship. Each vessel has a unique noise signature.
Nuke–Nuclear Power: Nuclear-powered ships use a nuclear reactor to heat water, which in turn drives a steam generator to provide power. While nuclear-powered submarines do not need to recharge batteries and, therefore have virtually unlimited range coupled with the ability to stay submerged indefinitely, the pumps required to circulate coolant for their nuclear reactors make them noisier than their diesel counterparts.
OOD–Officer Of the Deck: An officer on duty aboard ship acting as the commanding officer’s representative, usually on the conn.
On Watch: A sailor’s assigned duty period.
On-Line: Fully functional; up and running.
One-third: A reference to ship’s speed. In this reference, one-third of full speed.
Ordinance: Weapons, such as torpedoes, SUBROCs, ASROCs and missiles.
Ordinance Technician: Crew member responsible for maintaining all ordinance.
Out-chopped: Slang for “exited”.
Outer Doors: The doors in the hull of a submarine covering the exit of the torpedo tubes. More accurately called SHUTTER DOORS.
Page-13: A disciplinary sheet which may be found in the permanent record of military personnel.
Passage Chart: The map on which a specific, and in the case of ballistic missile submarines, secret patrol route has been marked.
Passive Sets: Sonar listening devices which use no active means of data gathering in order to remain silent.
Patrol: In the case of ballistic missile submarines, a cruise of a specific number of days within a designated area for the purpose of being in position to launch missiles at an enemy, should the orders for launch be given.
Patrol Box: The area in which a ballistic missile submarine conducts its secret patrol.
Performance Upgrade: Additions or modifications to an existing vessel for the purpose of improving the mission capabilities of that vessel.
Periscope Depth: The depth at which a submerged submarine can extend its periscope above the surface.
Periscope: Any one of several varieties of optical instruments allowing submarines, while remaining submerged, to view activity on or above the surface.
Pinging: Sound generated by active sonar.
PMS–Preventative Maintenance, Scheduled: Routine maintenance performed at regularly scheduled intervals in order to maintain peak equipment efficiency.
Polishing the Cannonball: An attempt to generate a near-perfect firing solution before issuing the command to fire.
Port: The left side of a ship relative to an individual facing forward.
PRC 1000: Video communications device used aboard the USS Idaho.
Prop–Propeller: More accurately called a screw, the device which, when turned by the ship’s engines, propels a submarine through the water.
Rain Locker: Slang for a ship-board shower.
Ready Service: Reference to equipment which has been placed at its normal readiness posture.
Red Phone: Usually a specific phone reserved for only the highest priority communications.
Rig for ….: Command reference indicating that the ship needs to be placed in some specified condition as in “Rig for dive” or “Rig for good quiet”.
Rocket-Delivered Torpedo: Launched from submarines against other submarines, a solid fuel rocket boosts a homing torpedo to within 60 miles of the presumed location of the enemy submarine. Upon arrival in the target area, the torpedo is lowered into the water by parachute.
Rota: Naval base in the city of Rota, Spain which serves as the Operations Center for the Mediterranean SOSUS net.
Rudder: A movable waterfoil attached to the stern of a ship, used to determine the lateral direction of travel of the ship.
Sabotage: Destruction or obstructive action carried out by an enemy in order to impede a nation’s war effort or undermine their security.
Sail: The streamlined conning tower protruding from the top of a submarine.
Sail Planes: Fin-like appendages, located on the exterior of the conning tower or sail of the submarine, used to control the angle of the dive.
Sat Phone: Telephone communications device using a satellite link.
SATCOM–SATellite COMmunications: Any communications means which uses a satellite link.
Screws: The technical term for a ship’s propeller.
Sea Mount: An under-sea mountain.
Self-Destruct: A safety feature built into modern torpedoes allowing them to be destroyed after launch by means of a signal sent via the wire-guidance system.
SET-65 Torpedo: Latest design Soviet submarine torpedo.
SH-60B Seahawk: A twin-engine helicopter equipped with powerful, advanced electronics, the Seahawk can search for surface ships and submarines and attack both types.
Silent Running: A condition under which all non-essential machinery and equipment is shut down in order to minimize the noise generated by a submarine.
Silent Service: Nickname for the submarine service.
Sleeve: Derogatory reference referring to a sailor with no rank or time-in-service.
Snap Shoot: An emergency torpedo launch in which a torpedo is launched down the reciprocal bearing of an incoming enemy weapon or on the straight-line bearing of a close contact. Analogous to the fastest draw in a gunfight.
Sneak-n-Peek: Idiom meaning to move slowly and with great caution while looking for any sign of enemy presence or activity.
Snorkel: A device which, when extended above the surface from a submerged submarine, allows air to be pumped into the submerged submarine to enable diesel engines to be run for the recharging of electric batteries. A noisy and dangerous activity when engaged in combat operations.
Sonar–SOund NAvigation and Ranging: Generally refers to active sonar which emits a sound wave or ping which is reflected back to the source from any solid object which the sound wave encounters. Active sonar provide very reliable information about any contact, but also alerts the enemy to your location.
Sonar Watch: The officers and men on duty in the sonar room constitute the sonar watch.
Sonobouys: Small, air-droppable sonar devices used to detect submarines. They may be either active pinging sonars or passive listening devices. ASW aircraft usually carry large numbers of sonobouys.
SOP–Standard Operating Procedure: Standardized instructions covering the optimum procedures for many different types of operations and conditions.
SOSUS–SOund SUrveillance System: A series of fixed passive sonar arrays used by NATO to provide information regarding movement of Soviet submarines.
SSN-16: Soviet designed rocket-delivered torpedo.
Standard Speed: Reference to a ship’s speed; in this case, the normal cruising speed.
Starboard: The right side of a ship relative to an individual facing forward.
Stern: The rear section or tail of a ship.
Strategic Asset: In the U.S. Navy, any ship or weapon system designed to strike the enemy at the sources of his military, economic or political power.
Stripe: A designation for level of rank among enlisted personnel.
Surface Layer: The water between the ocean’s surface and the first thermal layer. The depth of the layer is determined by water conditions and may vary from 30 to 200 feet.
Surface Impact: Sonar reference to the sound generated by an object striking the surface of the water.
SURFLANT–SURFace Forces AtLANTic: Designation referring to all U.S. Navy surface vessels assigned to the Atlantic Ocean.
Swim Buddies: U.S. Navy SEAL term for a pair of swimmers working as a team.
Swiss Combat Medals: A humorous reference, since Switzerland is well known for its historically neutral political stance.
Tactical Problem: Term usually referring to small-scale weapons or forces put into action at a battle area with only a limited or immediate end in view.
Tactical Dump: Briefing materials related to a tactical problem.
TB-23: Integrated towed sonar suite and fire control system stored on a reel in the aft ballast tank area.
Theatre-Level: Operations which take place within a specified geographical area of responsibility assigned to a naval battle group.
Three Whisky Gulf: Phonetic alphabet designation for the USS Idaho.
Torpedo Door Event: Sonar reference to the sound of a submarine opening its outer torpedo doors in preparation for firing.
Torpedo Room: That part of a submarine designed for the storage, maintenance and launching of torpedoes.
Torpedo: Primary offensive weapon of a submarine.
Towed Array: A long, tapered cable connected to a collection of hydrophones. By separating the hydrophones from the ship, the array is not limited by noise generated by the submarine, thereby increasing detection range. While helpful, towed arrays limit a submarine’s speed and maneuverability.
Traffic: Communications reference to incoming or outgoing messages.
Two-thirds: Reference to a ship’s speed; in this case, two-thirds of full speed.
Udaloy: The Udaloy class is designed primarily for antisubmarine warfare, although its dual purpose SS-N-14 cruise misslies can also be employed against surface targets. This was the first Soviet destroyer-sized design to carry two helicopters and is equipped with bow-mounted and towed, variable-depth, low-frequency sonars.
Uncertainty Zone: An area into which an enemy has traveled estimated by calculating time and best speed from a known location.
Underway: A ship steaming under its own power is said to be “underway”.
Uniform Code of Military Justice: The set of rules and regulations which govern military conduct.
Up Bubble: Used to measure the degree of upward incline when surfacing a submarine.
USS Biloxi: Los Angeles class attack submarine in Silent Steel.
USS Idaho: Ohio class ballistic missile submarine aboard which Silent Steel takes place.
VLF Wire–Very Low Frequency Wire: Communications antenna extended from the submarine at periscope depth. Allows transmission of communication signals.
Wardroom: The dining area and social center for officers on a submarine.
War Shot: A fully-armed weapon.
Watch Profile: The specific duty assignments of a particular watch section.
Watch Section: The officers and men on duty in a specified area constitute the watch section for that area.
Waypoint: Navigational points at which course changes may take place.
Weapons Envelope: The parameters under which a particular weapon is designed to function.
WEPS–Weapons Officer: Officer in charge of maintaining all weapons and weapons systems aboard ship.
Whisky: NATO designation for a Soviet submarine type. The Soviets do not reveal the actual class names of their vessels, so NATO randomly assigns designations based on the phonetic alphabet. The Whisky is an older model, diesel-powered submarine often sold to Soviet block nations.
Wire-Guide Capability: Modern torpedoes use either acoustic homing or wire guidance. A wire- guided weapon is connected to the submarine by a thin wire, through which course and speed changes can be passed to the weapon en route to its target.
WLR-9: Acoustic intercept receiver (passive sonar) found aboard U.S. submarines.
XO–Executive Officer: Second in command of a naval vessel. The XO is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the ship while the captain keeps track of the “big picture”.
Yankee Victor: Phonetic alphabet designation for the patrol area of the USS Idaho.