Aft, abaft, astern Towards the stern.
Aloft In the rigging.
Amidships At, or towards, the lengthwise center of the ship.
Athwart, athwartship Across the ship, from side to side.
Abeam Directly beside.
Belay To tie a line to a cleat, bitt(s), or other tie point.
Below Inside the hull, downstairs.
Bitt Vertical, cylindrical iron post with a lip at the top. Used for belaying lines. Mooring bitts usually occurred as a pair, but Titanic also had single, cross shaped bitts at the davits. These worked like cleats, except the shape allowed several lines to belay independently.
Block One or more pulleys mounted in a housing. The housing had a hook or eye attachment. A pair of blocks, rigged with rope was a block and tackle.
Boiler Structure for creating steam to power the ship.
Bollard Basically, a large bitt; except bollards were generally not cylindrical but smoothly tapered, small at the bottom, fat on top. Bollards were used with lines that had prepared eye splices at the end. This loop was simply slipped over the bollard. Titanic's deck bollards were used for lines passed to her from tugboats.
Bow Front section of the ship.
Box Trunk Vent Vent shaped like a trunk or box.
Bridge Raised thwartship platform for control and navigation. By Titanic's time ships commonly were built with the bridge as part of the superstructure. Titanic also had a Docking Bridge at her stern to facilitate control in tight quarters.
Bulkhead Generally, any wall or vertical partition.
Bulwark A strong external wall, part of the hull or lower superstructure meant to protect against the sea and weather.
Bullseye Looked like a giant hockey puck with a hole through the face and a groove in the rim. Used in pairs, and laced together, bullseyes predated turnbuckles as a way to tighten and adjust standing rigging.
Capstan A machine for hauling mooring and towing lines. Basically a very large steam powered winch with a ribbed vertical drum, except the line was not stored on the drum.
Cargo Span A cable rigged like a mast backstay, except slack. From this was suspended a block and tackle which was used to supplement the cargo cranes. Titanic had cargo spans over both well decks.
Catwalk Grate like or solid walkways spanning openings.
Cleat The standard belaying point.
Coaming Raised lip around a hatch, meant to keep deck water from sloshing through the opening and annoying the rats below.
Condenser Discharge Titanic, like all steamers, had to recycle her spent steam for boiler feedwater. The steam condensers were cooled with seawater, which in turn was used to provide heat for the ventilation air before being dumped back into the sea through the discharge ports in the hull.
Conduits Small piping for electrical wiring or water.
Cowl Vent Vent with cylindrical ducting and a tuba or horn-like mouth.
Crows Nest Lookout's view station (on forward mast).
Curl Vent Vent with rectangular ducting and a curved top.
Davit Curved upright arms for raising or lowering lifeboats.
Deckhouse Buildings on Boat Deck.
Decklamp Exterior lights for nighttime illumination of decks.
Derrick Boom arm for cargo behind the forward mast.
Docking Bridge Used in aiding the docking of ship in port.
Fairlead A rope guide, generally mounted on the gunwales.
Falls Ropes and tackle for lowering the lifeboats.
Fo'c'sle Forecastle.
Fore, forward, before, ahead Towards the bow.
Forecastle Raised area at the bow, traditionally used for crew quarters and anchor tackle. Also spelled FO'C'SLE, either way, always pronounced "FOKE-sul."
Forecastle Deck Weather deck of forecastle.
Foredeck More commonly used term for forecastle deck.
Fore & Aft Lengthwise, or, both ends; depending on context.
Funnels Smokestacks.
Gibb Vent Large barrel shaped area integrated on vent pipes.
Gripe Shackle, chain or rope tackle used to secure lifeboats to their cradles. Usually plural: "gripes".
Gunwale The top edge of the hull. Pronounced "GUNN-el".
Gutters Similar to eavestroughs at deck level for water collection.
Handrail Wall mount or bulwark capping for aid in walking.
Hatch Horizontal opening in weather decks, generally for cargo loading. Closed with a HATCH COVER.
Hawser Generally, any large diameter rope or cable capable of mooring or towing the ship.
Hawsehole Hole in hull or bulwarks to pass hawsers or mooring lines.
Hawsepipe Hawseholes for anchors. When stowed, the flukes of the anchor rested against the hull, and the shank fit in the hawsepipe, which extended from hull surface to foredeck.
Jackstaff Specifically, the stern flagpole. More generally, any portable spar used to rig sunshades, flags, or light duty hoisting tackle.
Jackstay Steel rod or railing mounted close to a spar, the hull, or a bulkhead specifically as a handhold for crew use, also handy for belaying.
Kedge anchor

Originally, the purpose of a kedge anchor was to manoeuvre a ship in a tight anchorage. The procedure was as follows:

  1. Launch a boat, and lower the kedge anchor into the boat with a hawser attached.
  2. Row the boat in the direction you want the ship to go, and at a suitable distance, drop the anchor.
  3. Wrap the hawser around a capstan, and haul the ship over to the anchor.
  4. Repeat.

Titanic probably had kedge anchors because some obsolete regulation required them. One doubts anyone seriously contemplated kedging Titanic. That's why God made tugboats. But see "warp."

Leadsman Platform Crew stood on these while doing depth soundings.
Lifeboat Small boats for crew and passengers for use in emergencies.
Liferings Personal floatation life preservers.
Mast Poles for rigging, crows nest .
Mooring line Prepared hawser, usually with an eye splice (loop) in one end, for docking.
On Deck On the weather deck; outdoors.
Outriggers Swinging bracket arms along A-deck bulkhead.
Pelorus A horizontal protractor with a swiveling gun sight. Used for navigating in coastal waters; bearings could be taken on buoys, lighthouses, or land features. Of course, if fog set in, you could lose your bearings and run aground.
Phonebox Contains phones on forecastle/stern for messaging bridge.
Poop Deck Raised stern section of ship.
Port, portside Left side, when you're facing the bow. If you get confused, think of Titanic at the PORT of Southampton. The PORTside was facing the dock. Also, TO PORT: direction.
P&S Port and starboard, on both sides.
Promenade Walkway for passengers.
Prow The extreme forward end of the foredeck
Ratlines Small lines tied horizontally across shrouds to provide
a ladder.
Reel Spool like cable storing device.
Rigging Masts and other spars, support cables, lines, blocks, the whole megillah. From sailing ships; anything having to do with the sails.
Rudder Device on stern for steering a ship.
Running rigging Lines, blocks, lifting tackle, any part of the rigging that moves and does work.
Screws A ship's propellers.
Scuppers Drain holes set low in bulwarks.
Semaphore Signaling apparatus, Morse lamps.
Sheer Curvature of the hull's upper level between bow and stern.
Shrouds Support cables running port and starboard. A type of standing rigging. Both masts had ratlines tied across their shrouds. The funnel 'guywires' are also, technically, shrouds.
Skid Lights Small round skylights along the Officer Quarters base.
Sounding Spars Used to operate the lead line while taking soundings.
Spar Generic term for any part of the rigging which resembles a pole. The masts, booms, derrick, etc. are all spars.
Stanchion Supporting post.
Stairwell Open or shafted areas with stairs between deck levels.
Standing rigging Permanent rigging used to brace and support masts and funnels. Subcategorized as shrouds and stays.
Starboard Right side, when you're facing the bow. Titanic hit the iceberg to starboard. Also, TO STARBOARD: direction.
Stays Support cables running fore & aft. A type of standing rigging. Subcategorized as FORESTAYS and BACKSTAYS. The E/M instructions refer to the funnel wires as stays, but H&W calls them shrouds.
Stem The sharp leading edge of the bow.
Stern Back section of a ship.
Sunscreen See through screen filter to block sun rays.
Superstructure Topmost decks overhanging the hull.
Tackle Any specific set of equipment, e.g.: sounding tackle,
lifeboat tackle, etc.
Telegraph Circular levered device for bridge/Engine Room messages.
Thermotank Heat generating tanks.
Warp To move the ship along a dock by alternately hauling on the mooring lines and moving them to new (dockside) bollards. Similar to kedging, except warping was actually practical, and was frequently used. Cheaper and quicker than tugboats.
Weather deck Top deck on the hull. Made strong and watertight to resist wave, spray, and weather. Also "Shelter Deck".
Well Deck Low sections between the stern or bow and superstructure.
Winch Used with cargo cranes for lifting. Winch cable was stored on the drum.
Windlass A capstan with a horizontal drum, used to haul anchor chain or the large cable used with the center anchor. Titanic's windlass gear was in the forecastle, below the foredeck.
Wing cabs Small navigation structures.
Wireless Radio telegraph.
A Deck Promenade
A/M Academy/Minicraft
B deck Stateroom deck
BD Boat Deck or Sun Deck
C deck Level of well decks
DB Docking Bridge
GMM Gold Medal Models
GSC Grand Staircase
KK Kristal Klear
OQ Officer's Quarters
WH Wheel House
WTD Water Tight Doors
P&S Port and starboard
Brads Small tack like nails.
Brass photoetch Photoetched panels of brass for minute ship details.
CA glue A `Superglue" type compound.
Decal set Liquid pre-treat and/or post treat for decal securing.
Dry brushed Application of little paint pigment in semidry state.
Dry fit Assemble parts without gluing (usually for test fitting).
Fabricate Construct from materials.
Flare Heat treated sprue to create a fluted end.
Flashing Extra plastic usually found in openings of a mold.
Glitter Small metallic flakes used in crafts.
Glue block Square `plate' for adding `pools' of glue on.
GluSquito Scratchbuilt gluing device.
Hobby knife A cutting tool with a razor type blade (eg. X-Acto).
Masking Protecting an area with tape/paper, etc.
Microdot Small pips of pulled sprue.
Microrod Commercial thin diameter plastic stock.
Mold seams The lines or scars created by the mold process.
Monofilament Nylon fishing line.
Pigment Paint color.
Plastic stock Tubular, rectangular or square lengths of plastic.
Plastic strips Long rectangular plastic panel like a kickplate.
Pulled sprue Heated sprue pulled to achieve thread like dimensions.
Putty Material or process of filling in seams with model filler.
Sand block Sandpaper glued to wooden block for sanding with or on.
Scratchbuild Create an object from residual materials.
Scribe Scratching lines into a surface with a sharp instrument.
Sheet plastic Larger card-like panels of plastic.
Sprue The `tree' that holds model parts.
Stipple Paint a series of small dots.
Thinner For cleaning or diluting paint pigment.
Tree Same as sprue, the rack that holds the model parts.
Tweezers Small utensil for pinching an object.
Wash Diluted paint finish.


By Brett Anthony



The BOW is the front of the ship, the STERN is the back. The leading edge of the bow is the STEM. Thus "stem to stern" means "the entire ship." AMIDSHIPS is the center section. PORT (or PORTSIDE) and STARBOARD are the left and right sides IF you are facing the bow, but like "driver side" and "passenger side" of a car, they don't move when you do. An easy way to remember is to think of Titanic at the PORT of Southampton. The PORT side was next to the dock.

FORWARD, FORE, or BEFORE means toward the bow. AFTER, AFT, or ABAFT all mean toward the stern. ABEAM means directly beside. INBOARD and
OUTBOARD mean, respectively, closer to centerline or closer to the rail.

P&S (for Port and Starboard) means "on both sides." Note that this is slightly different from ATHWART which means "crosswise." TO PORT
and TO STARBOARD are directions, as in "Vent XYZ is aft and slightly TO PORT of vent ABC."

The expression FORE & AFT means either "on both ends" or "lengthwise" depending on context.


Before ocean liners, ships just had a HULL, which was covered by a DECK. The top edge of the hull is the GUNWALE, pronounced "gunnel".

Various small buildings on the deck were DECKHOUSES. Once sails were eliminated, the deckhouses grew up to become the SUPERSTRUCTURE, several decks high amidships. Of course, deckhouses began sprouting on top of the superstructure as the need arose. The BRIDGE, originally a raised platform ahead of the engines on steam/sail ships, moved to the forward end of the superstructure. Titanic's DOCKING BRIDGE looks more like the original concept. The main deck, which had earlier covered the hull from stem to stern, became known as the WEATHER DECK, also, SHELTER DECK. The raised bow area is the FORECASTLE (or FO'C'SLE) pronounced 'FOKEsul' no matter how you spell it. The deck on top of the forecastle is called the FORECASTLE DECK, or more commonly, FOREDECK. The extreme forward end of the foredeck is the PROW.

The raised stern deck is the POOP DECK. Don't ask. Actually, in sailing ship days, ahead of the stem, below the bowsprit, was a structure called the HEAD. Built into the head timbers was a plank with a couple of holes in it called "seats of ease". Below that was the ocean. If the ship was pitching, a seat of ease doubled as a bidet. Thus, "going to the head" came to mean "using the toilet". "Going ahead" just means going forward. Titanic also had fore and aft WELL DECKS, which were lower than the forecastle or poop to facilitate cargo handling. Poop, incidentally, comes from the Medieval French term for "stern."

On a ship, walls are BULKHEADS, floors are DECKS, ceilings are OVERHEADS, windows are PORTS, stairs are COMPANIONWAYS, and doors are DOORS; unless they are a horizontal opening in the weather deck. Then they are called HATCHES. Note that the hatch is the opening; the cover is the HATCH COVER. Hatches had raised lips called HATCH COAMINGS around the edge to keep deck water from sloshing through the opening and annoying the rats below. Since the well decks were set below the top of the hull, the P&S well deck bulkheads were called BULWARKS, which means they were extra strong to resist wave and weather. Water, from rain or spray, did frequently get on the decks, so small drain holes called SCUPPERS were provided at the base of all bulwarks.

Of course, Titanic had a luxury hotel amidships, occupied by wealthy landlubbers, so sometimes a bulkhead was a wall and a stairway was just that.


Since many of the deck features had to do with making the ship stay put when desired, a brief explanation is in order. Ships can be either tied to a dock, anchored, or moored. A mooring is a permanent anchor provided by the harbor authority. Visibly, a mooring is a buoy to which you can tie your ship, assuming you first ask permission of the harbormaster. The buoy is connected by chain to a great heavy lump of concrete or a piling driven into the harbor
bottom. Titanic was too big for any mooring, so she had to anchor at Cherbourg and Queenstown (Cobh). In fact, Titanic was so huge that she could only actually dock at Southampton and New York, and those facilities had to be modified to accommodate the Olympic ships. Just for sake of confusion, the ropes used to tie a ship to the dock are MOORING LINES, the sheltered area of a harbor where moorings are available is often called an ANCHORAGE, and the outer harbor where large ships are actually permitted to drop anchor is called a ROADS.


The very large diameter ropes, cables, and chains needed to restrain or tow a ship are often called HAWSERS. Thus, there are HAWSEHOLES in the well deck bulwarks (and elsewhere) for mooring lines. Additionally, where mooring lines run from the foredeck or poop directly over the gunwale, they pass through FAIRLEADS, which are basically guides. Mooring lines can either be attached to BOLLARDS or BITTS, depending on who passes the line to whom. A BOLLARD is a single, large, smooth finished cast iron post, wider at the top. The mooring line, which has an eye splice for this purpose, is simply slipped over the bollard, which in this case would be on the dock. Titanic's deck bollards were used for lines passed to her from tugboats.

The length of the mooring line is adjusted at the ship end, usually by hauling the line with the aid of a CAPSTAN. Titanic's capstans had vertical drums, ribbed for traction, and turned by a steam engine. The line was wrapped around the drum several turns, and the capstan then run to haul the ship in close to the dock. The free end (also called THE BITTER END) was paid into a ROPE LOCKER. Once the line was hauled up short, it would be slacked briefly and BELAYED to a set of BITTS. To BELAY is to tie a line to a cleat, bitts, or other tie-point. A set of BITTS, here plural, like pants, is a pair of cylindrical iron posts, each with a rim at the top. The line is passed between the bitts, then wrapped round them in a figure 8 and secured by flipping the final loop.

WARPING SHIP. The crew could actually move the ship along a dock by alternately hauling on the mooring lines and moving them to new (dockside) bollards. Similar to KEDGING, except warping was actually practical, and was frequently used. Cheaper and quicker than tugboats.


Titanic had three bow (or bower) anchors. The center anchor, stowed in the well just aft of the stempost, was designed to be lifted from its well with the anchor crane and rigged to a wire hawser which paid out from the STEM HAWSEHOLE. This hawser was also used for towing, as when Titanic left Belfast on her sea trials. The port and starboard bow anchors were stowed with their shanks inside their HAWSEPIPES, so called because they were indeed pipes which extended from hull surface to foredeck. From the top of the hawsepipes the anchor chains lay aft along the foredeck secured with smaller gripe
chains passed through the links. The chains then passed below, each to a steam powered WINDLASS, which worked like a capstan with a horizontal drum, in the forecastle. The chains then paid off the back of the windlass drums to chain lockers below. The stem hawser had its own windlass and separate storage drum.

Although the speed of lowering could be controlled with a windlass brake, it was safer for the ship to drop anchor as fast as possible. Therefore, the winch was hauled tight to allow someone to free the gripes, then all hands stood clear and they let it rip. Close inspection of the anchor tracks and guard hoops on the foredeck suggests the chain would thrash about quite violently while paying out.

Once the anchor hit bottom, the pilot would BACK SHIP until five to ten times the water depth of cable (chain) had paid out, then the windlass brake would be locked to cause the anchor flukes to dig in. Raising anchor was the reverse: the ship would proceed AHEAD SLOW (or DEAD SLOW) toward the anchor as the cable was hauled. When the anchor broke free the foredeck officer would report "Anchor's aweigh" to the bridge and continue hauling while a deckhand directed a hose down the hawsepipe to wash off the mud.


As can be seen above, it took a lot of searoom to anchor a liner, and there is an unstated assumption there that the current would not change while riding to anchor. Indeed, ships which expected to anchor in tidal estuaries needed stern anchors as large as those at the bow. Regulations and insurers demanded a certain anchoring capability based on tonnage; however Titanic's designers knew that the anchorages at Cherbourg and Queenstown would almost never require the specified holding power. The solution was to rig the Olympic ships with a pair of smallish (8 ton), easily handled hull-mounted anchors, and one humungous (15.5 ton) center anchor stowed in a special foredeck well. One assumes the deck crew devoutly wished never to have to use it.


Originally, the purpose of a kedge anchor was to move a ship in a tight anchorage. The procedure was as follows:

  1. Launch a boat, and lower the kedge anchor into the boat with a
    cable attached.
  2. Row the boat in the direction you want the ship
    to go, and at a suitable distance, drop the anchor.
  3. Wrap the
    cable round a capstan, and haul the ship over to the anchor.
  4. Repeat.

Titanic probably had kedge anchors because some obsolete regulation required them. One doubts anyone seriously contemplated kedging Titanic. That's why God made tugboats. But see "warp."


Cable and Hawser:
Technically, the only difference between CABLE and HAWSER is that one describes rope twisted left, the other, right. This distinction is only important to rope manufacturers and persnickety riggers, however. The average deckhand did not care in the least except on rare occasions when asked to butt-splice the two. Loosely, inconsistently, HAWSER came to mean any rope product fat and heavy enough to require a heaving line to get it to the dock. CABLE came to mean "that which connects the anchor to the ship". Whether chain, rope, or wire, if an anchor was on one end, it was a cable. The introduction of steel wire rope complicated matters further: sometimes "cable" meant wire rope, "hawser" meant hemp rope.

Line and Rope:
Rather like a secret handshake, knowing the difference between line and rope will spare you the patient, resigned looks reserved for landlubbers. It's simple: a line has a job, a rope does not. Rope which is laying about in storage is rope. Cut off a piece and rig it to something, or prepare it to be used for some purpose and stow it .


WAY is in fact a nautical term. Ships have to me moving at a certain speed (several knots)before the rudder will work. Slower than that, and there is no control at all. It's a bit like the stall speed of an airplane. This critical control point is called STEERAGE WAY. Once you are going fast enough, you are said to HAVE WAY ON, or simply to be UNDER WAY.

One consequence of this was that the windlass had to be able to haul anchor faster than way, or Titanic would foul her cable. Another consequence was that tugboats were vital. Leaving Southampton, Titanic was towed and pushed into the ship channel, turned 90 degrees, and given a shove downriver before starting her engines. The tugs than accompanied her for a bit to be sure she was truly under way, and it was fortunate they did considering the City
of New York incident.

Cameron's Movie has Titanic starting her engines at dockside. While this is a wonderful cinematic moment, had it actually been done this way Captain Smith would have found himself staring down both barrels of a Harbormaster hissy fit. Aside from being wildly dangerous, it would have undermined the dock.


These did not actually control anything. They were simply a way to communicate and acknowledge orders. The bridge would move a telegraph to the desired command, say: "Ahead Two Thirds", and when the response pointer moved to that command it meant someone in the engine room had seen the order and understood it. Presumably, they would then take the appropriate action.

There has been some discussion on the message board regarding the bridge furniture; specifically why there are six telegraphs. Clearly, three telegraphs communicated with the engine room regarding the three engines. Additionally, there was a steering telegraph, and two additional engine telegraphs. Since this duplicates the arrangement on the docking bridge, these extras may have been just for coordination between the bridge officer and the docking officer.

The docking bridge was there simply because Titanic was an extremely long, narrow ship, and it was vital when backing in tight quarters to be able to see where one is going. Titanic could be controlled from the docking bridge; this bridge was even equipped with a compass. There were only two engine telegraphs there because the turbine engine could not reverse and thus was not used in port.

The helmsman steered by maintaining a compass bearing, so a compass was conveniently housed in the BINNACLE, directly ahead of the wheel. Since Titanic actually only knew where she was with any precision once a day at noon (and then only if the sun was clearly visible); checking and maintaining the accuracy of the compass was critical. Thus, there was a master compass housed in the compass tower between the second and third funnels. This location was chosen as being above the center of Titanic's magnetic mass. The compass tower itself was made of brass and wood to reduce magnetic influence.

Close to shore, navigation was done by taking bearings on buoys, lighthouses, and prominent land features with the pelorus; a flat protractor with a swiveling gun sight. Bearings were taken relative to the heading of the ship. Two were needed to cover the full circle port and starboard.


Titanic had of course a great deal of beautiful and intriguing mechanical equipment below decks. However, we won't explore that fascinating subject much here because no one in the Titanic modeling community has developed a method for making the Entex/Minicraft Titanic open like a book to reveal the marvels within. Yet.

It is worth noting however that Titanic was built at a time when electric motors were just beginning to come into the mainstream as prime movers. She made extensive use of this new technology in her smaller lifting tackle, and especially in her ventilation system. Previously, ship ventilation mostly depended on the wind generated by the passage of the ship. Titanic's designers, in particular reacting to the many large cowl vents which festooned the upper decks of Lusitania and Mauretania, went in heavily for electric blower- assisted ventilation. They were breaking new ground here, and perhaps as a consequence one finds much variety among Titanic's ventilation equipment, and much that is different from that of Olympic and Britannic; evidently Harland & Wolff continued to refine and improve the system right up to Southampton. This of course has presented a puzzle of Byzantine character to the entologists in our Titanic modeling community.

Notwithstanding the new technology of electric motors, Titanic also had an immensely powerful steam plant below, and she was the product of an age when steam power was routinely used for every imaginable application. Thus is is not surprising that in addition to her three huge main propulsion engines, she had literally dozens of additional steam engines large and small scattered throughout the ship to power everything from pumps to refrigeration to capstans to steering gear. Unfortunately for the modeler, (perhaps fortunately for those who want to eventually finish their models) most of this equipment was below decks.


This site was created by David Cotgreave January 2000