Sailor Speak of the Week – Sea Room

Definition

Noun

  • The required space for a vessel to maneuver safely.

Origin

16th century.

Comments

It should go without saying that most vessels don’t exactly handle like cars. Given a large enough vessel, it takes time and space to stop it. There’s a ridiculous scene in the 2012 movie, Battleship, where they drop the port side bow anchor and the USS Missouri practically comes to a screeching halt; swinging her stern around like they just pulled a handbrake turn in a car. I cringe every time I see that scene. While there is a similar technique in sailing vessels, known as clubhauling, I doubt it applies to 50,000-ton Iowa-class battleships moving at flank speed. I imagine the anchor chain would have something to say in the matter as it snaps and possibly damages the hawsepipe and/or the bow of the ship.

The “sea room” is also a good place to send newbies on a snipe hunt for. “Go find Petty Officer Jones. He’s in the sea room.”

References

Rogers, J.G. (1985). Origins of Sea Terms. Mystic Seaport Museum.

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