Sailor Speak of the Week – King Post

Three king post pairs. The center pair has a bridge between them forming a goalpost. Note that these all have ventilating cowls at their tops. (Photo credit: Naval Historical Center photo #NH44465)



  • A short derrick mast on merchant vessels used for cargo hauling.


16th century. Of dubious nautical connotation.


Positioned close to the cargo hatches and used for loading and unloading smaller kinds of cargo, king posts are smaller than regular masts and many have booms on them. They can be used for loading and unloading cargo onto lighters (barges) when port cranes aren’t available or there are no berths. Often arranged in pairs (one on each side of the ship), some pairs have a bridge that connects the tops (often termed “goalposts”).


Kemp, P. (1994). The Oxford Companion to Ships and the Sea. Oxford University Press.

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

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