Boarding Ship

Now someone explain Boatswain (Bosun) whistles! Where did someone get the idea that officers might like to be greeted by a shrill, piercing noise when they board a ship? Everybody from Nelson to Kirk have had to tolerate this annoyong ritual. Is it really a salute or is it just code to the crew meaning; “Everybody look busy!”?

Link to Mailbag Article: What are naval personnel saluting when they board a vessel? --CKDext
[Note: This message has been edited by CKDextHavn]

You can find way more than you want to know about “Signals and Honors” in the US Navy Regulations, available online from . The tome in question is an Adobe Acrobat file.

Other interesting sites which may help are:


Patrick O’Brian, in his excellent series of novels, mentions several times that the British Navy custom of saluting the quarterdeck as you board ship (which is aft of the entry port) evolved from the centuries-old custom in the Spanish Navy of saluting the cross that hung there.

In the upstart US Navy, which adopted a lot of British Navy traditions, it no doubt transmogrified into saluting the Ensign, hanging at the stern.

(ex-USN quartermaster)