Ready-for-Sea Handbook
United States Naval Reserve Intelligence Program

Module 1—Basics of Shipboard life

A. Coming Aboard 1-
B. After Getting Aboard 1-
1. Officers 1-
2. Enlisted 1-
C. How a Ship is Compartmented and Numbered 1-
D. Personal Safety Measures 1-
E. Meals 1-
1. Officers 1-
2. Officer Wardroom Etiquette 1-
3. Ships with more than one Wardroom 1-
4. Enlisted 1-
5. First Class Petty Officer and Chief's Messes 1-
F. Ladderwells and Passageways 1-
G. Waiting in Lines 1-
H. Exercise 1-
I. General Quarters (G.Q.) 1-
J. Man Overboard 1-
K. Fire 1-
L. Security Alerts 1-
M. Signal Bridge/Flight Deck/FOD/Vultures Row 1-
N. Flight Deck Jersey Colors 1-
O. Ship’s plan of the Day (POD) 1-
P. Ship’s Television System & Entertainment 1-
Q. Going Ashore 1-
1. How Much To Take? 1-
2. Laundry and Marking Your Clothing 1-
3. Civilian Clothing 1-
4. Bathrobe/Towel Wrap 1-
5. Sleepwear 1-
6. Showers/Shower Shoes 1-
7. Other Accessories 1-
1. Uniforms 1-
2. Other clothing 1-
3. Shaving and Shower gear 1-
4. Miscellaneous/Optional Articles 1-

Module 1—Basics of Shipboard life

A. Coming Aboard

When reporting to the ship for the first time you are required to be in a clean, proper, and complete uniform with your original orders. In addition to your orders, bring a copy of an updated Record of Emergency Data (commonly known as a "Page 2") and a filled out Serviceman’s Group Life Insurance (SGLI) form as these documents will be needed by the Ship’s Office (you may obtain these documents from your local Personnel Support Detachment, PSD prior to departing for AT). You should report no later than 0730 on the day stipulated on your orders. If reporting while the ship is in port, enlisted personnel will report via the "afterbrow," usually the ramp leading from the pier to either a sponson deck or one of the aft aircraft elevators (if reporting to a carrier). Officers will report via the "officers brow" leading to the Quarterdeck. Note: only larger ships, such as aircraft carriers and large amphibious ships, have two brows. Also, the officer’s brow is not always the forward one (e.g., it is aft on all Nimitz class carriers). Cruisers and all smaller ships usually will have one brow. Be sure to find out before hand how the ship you will report to is configured.

All Navy ships fly the national ensign (i.e., the United States Flag) from the stern while not actually underway. Remember to stop at the top of the brow, face aft and salute prior to reaching the Quarterdeck when coming aboard during daylight hours. In this case, "daylight hours" range from 0800 to sundown, local time. Hence, there is no need to salute the ensign if reporting aboard at 0730. Have your I.D. card and orders ready. Upon reaching the Quarterdeck, salute, and say "request permission to come aboard, sir." In some cases, the person manning the watch may be junior to you or in some cases, may not even be an officer. Nevertheless, call him or her "sir" as they represent the authority of the ship’s commanding officer. Hold the salute until you receive permission to board, then step to the side to present your orders to the Junior Officer of the Watch (JOOW) or Junior Officer Of the Deck (JOOD). Make sure the original copy of your orders is signed with the time and date you reported aboard by the JOOD or Petty Officer of the Watch.

Keep in mind that boarding any Navy ship is similar to entering a Navy installation and you are giving full consent to a search of your bags and baggage just by being there. For enlisted personnel, it may be a good idea to tie or tape your belongings in small bundles in your seabag that will not come apart or unfold and are easily re-packed if you have to dump your bag. This also saves time when it comes time to stowing your gear. Although baggage inspection is not the norm when reporting aboard, be prepared to submit your baggage if requested to do so (e.g., this might occur during times of international tension such as Desert Shield/Desert Storm).

Most ships will have a designated collateral duty Reserve Liaison Officer (RLO) or equivalent individual. After signing your orders, a member of the Quarterdeck detail will contact the RLO who will act as your initial contact and guide. This individual will most likely accompany you through the process of checking onto the ship. The usual first step is a visit to the ship’s personnel office where your orders will be processed. In addition to your original orders, the ship’s office will also ask for a copy of your Page 2 and SGLI Forms. Remember to retain a copy of your original orders and keep them on your person at all times during your AT.

Unlike Annual Training at a shore command, officer’s paperwork is not handled by a Personnel Support Detachment (PSD) aboard ship. The Administration Department of the ship handles all officer records and pay. If reporting to a carrier, you will turn in your paperwork to the Captain’s Office, which also falls under the Administration Department. Shortly after reporting aboard, you will need to report to the appropriate Administration Department’s office to turn in you paperwork and set up pay for your period of AT.


B. After Getting Aboard

1. Officers

After checking in with the ship’s personnel office you will need to report to the Officer’s Mess Office for stateroom assignments and to join the mess. Berthing is tight, even aboard large ships, but every attempt will be made for a stateroom assignment commensurate with your rank. Typically, junior officers can expect to have anywhere from one to five bunkmates, depending on rank. Lieutenant Commanders and above can expect at least one bunkmate.

Mess assignments will vary from ship to ship. For a two-week AT, officers can expect to pay a daily meal rate instead of actually buying a share of the mess. The enlisted Mess Specialist staff responsible for the ship’s ward room(s) will record your presence at each meal. At the end of your AT, the ship’s Administrative Officer will tally up your charges and present you with a bill.

2. Enlisted

In most cases, a senior member of the CVIC or Operations Department enlisted team usually will tour you around the ship’s spaces of interests and otherwise act as a "buddy" for your first few days at sea. After securing berthing/stateroom assignments and storing your gear, report to the Personnel Office, part of the Administration Department, to turn in your AT paperwork. Like the officers, reserve enlisted records and pay are not handled by a Personnel Support Detachment (PSD) aboard ship. All enlisted records and pay matters are run through the ship’s Personnel Office. On some smaller vessels, there may not be a separate ship’s Personnel Office. Invariably, the Administration Department will handle all records.

C. How a Ship is Compartmented and Numbered

Knowing how the carrier is compartmented is crucial for navigating its vast interior. Although ship’s personnel will be happy to lend a hand in getting around, it is still useful to have a working knowledge of where things are located. Each compartment of the ship is stamped with a series of alphanumeric numbers, known as "bull’s-eyes," which give information on where your are, and what that compartment’s function is. The information is given in the following order: deck number, frame number, relation to the centerline of the ship, and compartment usage. Each of these parts is separated by a hyphen.

Decks above the main deck are numbered 01, 02, 03, etc. and are referred to as levels. Below the main deck, there are the first, second, third decks, etc. (remember, on a carrier the hangar deck, the one below the flight deck, is the main deck.). Frame numbers tell you where you are in relation to the bow of the ship; the numbers increase as you go aft. The third number in the bull’s-eye reflects compartmentation numbers in relation to the ship’s centerline. EVEN numbers are to PORT, and ODD numbers are to STARBOARD. The numbers increase as you travel outboard. The last letter stamped on the compartmentation number indicates what the compartment is used for. Below are some typical codes:

Carrier Compartment Usage Codes


Supply and storage


Living quarters






Ship control


Trunks and passages










Example Bull’s-eye: 3-75-4-M


Indicates the third deck.


Indicates the compartments forward boundary is on or immediately aft of ship’s frame 75.


Indicates the fourth compartment outboard of the centerline to port (even numbers to port, odd to starboard).


Indicates the compartment is used for ammunition (see above).

Figure 1.1. Carrier Deck Schematic

D. Personal Safety Measures

In addition to regulations and naval tradition, follow common sense and good judgment about yourself and your surroundings at all times when aboard the ship. Be aware at all times; a United States Navy warship is, by definition of its function, an extremely hazardous environment. Be cognizant of the following safety related issues:

    1. Loss of electrical power aboard ship is always a possibility. It is highly recommended that you bring some kind of personal lighting device, such as a small flashlight, to help you in the event you are "caught in the dark."
    2. Upon locating your work center and berthing space, locate all possible routes of escape form each location. In the past, lives aboard ship have been lost to fire or fumes. In part, this was due to a lack of planned escape routes.
    3. Take care when listening to personal music devices such as a Walkman, not to turn the volume so high as to preclude the hearing of emergency announcements. Remember that the ship operates 24 hours a day and important announcements could be made at any time.
    4. When departing your quarters always wear shoes, even if only for a brief time (i.e., as in traveling to the head). Ladders, metal decks, sharp protrusions and other hazards present problems if walking barefooted.
    5. Look for Oxygen Breathing Apparatuses (OBAs) and fire extinguishers in your quarters and workspaces. Ask ship’s personnel to give you a demonstration of this important life saving equipment.
    6. More deaths aboard ship result from electrical shock than any other type of accident. Most electrical shocks are due to human mistakes or improper procedure rather than equipment failure. The following are common mistakes:

E. Meals

1. Officers

The experience of eating meals onboard ship will vary widely depending on the type of ship one is embarked on. Smaller ships have one Wardroom where officers gather, usually in a formal setting, with the ship’s commanding officer presiding. In addition to serving as central dining room, the Wardroom also functions as a place to hold important meetings for selected ship’s company. Lounge furniture, naval reference books and audio/visual entertainment equipment can also be found in some wardrooms. Ships with just one Wardroom usually do not require the officer to sign up for meals as some larger do.

2. Officer Wardroom Etiquette

Maintaining proper etiquette in the Wardroom is very important. For example, always wear the uniform of the day while in the Wardroom. As a visiting officer, it is your responsibility to familiarize yourself with the proper procedure for joining the Mess. On ships with one Wardroom, it is customary to address the senior officer present at the meal and ask permission to join the Mess. For example, if the executive officer (XO) is present, ask, "May I join you XO?" He will acknowledge you with a nod or a reply such as "Very well," or "Please." In some cases, you may have to ask with loud voice to be heard over the general conversation in the room. Note: It is customary to address senior and department head officers on ship by their function i.e., Captain, XO, OPS, SUPPO, WEPS, etc. If you do not know a particular officer’s job, ask him to join the mess using his rank e.g., "May I join you Commander?" Follow this procedure for every meal.

After receiving permission to join the mess, take a place at the table. Ships with one Wardroom sometimes have a special place for each officer’s rolled cloth napkin. If this is the case on your ship, take a rolled napkin marked "guest" before proceeding to the table. Seating is not generally reserved, with the exception however of the Captain’s and XO’s places which are always reserved. Find out prior to your first meal where their respective places at the table are and be sure never to sit there. After finishing your meal, re-fold your napkin and take a moment to identify the senior officer present (he may have changed during the course of the meal). Obtain permission to leave the mess by asking, "May I be excused, Captain (XO, etc.)?" You will be acknowledged with a nod or a reply such as "Very well." You may then leave the mess (if applicable, remember to put your rolled napkin back in its place).

3. Ships with more than one Wardroom

Larger ships, such as carriers, may have two or even three wardrooms, which vary in their formality. For example, a typical aircraft carrier has two Wardrooms: Wardroom One (also known as the "Dirty Shirt Wardroom") is usually forward on the 03 level and is where most of the aircrew tend to eat. Working uniforms are the norm; flight suits, deck jerseys and dirty khakis are all acceptable to wear. This mess always features informal cafeteria style service: grab a tray and silverware and chow down, as it were. Note: this mess may not be open when the air wing is not embarked or when the ship is in port.

Wardroom Two is usually run by the executive officer (XO) of the ship. The setting is more formal: no flight suits or dirty khakis are allowed. Follow the same etiquette procedures outlined above for ships with one Wardroom. The style in which meals are served will vary from ship to ship. Dinner is usually the most formal meal and is often presided over by a senior officer. On smaller ships with one Wardroom this may be the commanding officer, on larger ones it might be the executive officer (XO). Some Wardrooms require you to sign up for the dinner meal during lunchtime. Plan to arrive 5-10 minutes early to await dinner call in the Wardroom lounge. Please note that some ships use a cafeteria style for all meals. Be sure to check when you report aboard.

On carriers or other large ships, there may be a later dinner called Midnight Rations, or "Midrats", for those on night shift or those still hungry. Most ships organize it on a signed chit basis to be assessed to your mess bill. If this is the case and you are on night shift, a note to the wardroom office from your division officer will keep you from getting charged.

Paying for meals varies from ship to ship. As mentioned above, reserve officers will pay to become a temporary member of the mess upon reporting aboard. Meals for a two-week AT typically run about $50 to $60. Ask the officer initially assigned to show you around about what ship’s policy is for visiting officers.

4. Enlisted

The enlisted mess usually can be found on the 2nd deck and is always cafeteria style. Typically, it is open four times a day for up to a total of 10 hours per day. Enlisted members do not pay for their meals. The rules are easy: grab a tray, grab some food, and grab a seat (usually in this order). Be prepared however, to wait in line.

5. First Class Petty Officer and Chief's Messes

Some ships may or may not have an area set aside on the mess decks for a separate First Class Petty Officer’s seating area. If you are an E-6, ask whether there is a First Class Mess. The Chief’s Mess is run apart from the enlisted galley but still derives its funds from ship’s supply so there should be no extra mess dues for TAD (AT) reserve personnel. The mess may request a copy of your orders in order to secure additional funding for the meals you will eat while on AT. Note: the Chief’s Mess aboard a carrier usually offers the best food. While the Chief’s Mess derives its funds from ship’s supply it does not procure food from the Navy supply system. Regardless of your rank, see if you can get invited for a meal during your AT period.

F. Ladderwells and Passageways

Generally rank has its privilege going up and down ladders, with juniors yielding to seniors. The same goes for narrow passageways. Make way for seniors. Remember you are in a three dimensional environment. Be observant and look up and down before using a ladderwell to see who might be in the way. Be sure to offer proper military courtesy to seniors. Tape pasted down the middle of a passageway or hatchway indicates the deck is being cleaned and waxed. Work is done on one half at a time to keep the passageway open. Stay to the side that is not being worked on.

G. Waiting in Lines

Officers and chiefs normally have head of the line privileges at the ship’s store, check cashing, sick call and dental spaces. Although this is a traditional privilege, this privilege is not always exercised. Sometimes two lines are formed: one for enlisted and one for officers and CPOs. In the case of the ship’s store, there might be a line, or lines, to get in (due to the small size of the store’s compartment). Ask your ship’s guide about normal ship’s procedures and policies.

H. Exercise

Ships usually have some sort of a gym set up with free weights or Universal machines, stationary bike and rowing machines. Exercise contributes to your overall performance and effectiveness while assigned to the ship. If on a carrier, the flight deck is often open for running during breaks between flight operations. Beware of chocks and chains, wing pylons, turning engines and slick decks while running on deck. The hangar bay is another place to run and is usually the only option during bad weather, flight operations or at night. The hazards listed above are multiplied during these times.

I. General Quarters (G.Q.)

The purpose of general quarters is to prepare the ship to fight, both offensive and defensive operations, as quickly as possible. You need to report to your assigned G.Q. station or work center as quickly as practical. A fast walk should be sufficient to get you there safely. The flow of traffic is generally "up and forward on the starboard side—down and aft on the port side." Travel against the flow of traffic is dangerous and should be avoided.

The condition of readiness required for a ship to go into combat is "Condition Zebra." This means the ship is "buttoned up" in all watertight compartments to insure integrity and prevent the spread of fires. This is why you need to get to your G.Q station before the doors and hatches are slammed shut.

Proper uniform for G.Q. is sleeves rolled down and buttoned (jacket on over short sleeves), pants legs tucked into your socks or taped at the ankles, and the collar of your shirt buttoned. Flash hoods and gloves are also becoming standards aboard many ships. In some departments you may be required to wear a steel helmet and flotation device. Also, gas masks are often required during advanced drills (G.Q., Man Overboard, and Fire).

Note: during G.Q., some intelligence personnel may be required to leave their G.Q. spaces in order to transmit intelligence data to other parts of the ship. This may involve opening and closing the watertight doors between compartments. Should you be required to do this, you must call the Damage Control spaces and inform them of your route of travel prior to departing (e.g., from CVIC to the Flag spaces).

J. Man Overboard

Routes of travel are the same as for G.Q. when "All hands muster" is called away. You must muster by sight with your respective shop, work center, or division to insure an accurate muster for crew accountability. You will normally be assigned to the Operations Department. If you are on a carrier, you should be assigned to the CVIC/OZ division for mustering purposes (the OZ division is responsible for day-to-day operations of the CVIC—ship’s departments and divisions will be discussed in Module 6). Report for "All hands muster" as expeditiously as possible to avoid having your name called out over the 1MC (the ship’s public address system).

The prospect of Man Overboard is very serious. The "All hands muster" call assists in identifying who might be missing. Some XOs have even been known to "kidnap" one or more of the ship’s personnel and then call an "All hands" in order to test the process. Needless to say, should a "kidnapped" person be reported as mustered (either by well-meaning work center colleagues or by mistake) serious repercussions will ensue.

K. Fire

Fires or suspicious smoke odors are handled and investigated by the duty fire squad. These people have absolute right of way on their way to a fire scene. The words "fire! fire! fire!" along with the location by frame and compartment number and the class of fire will be passed over the 1MC. Stay clear of this area and stay out of the way of personnel responding to the emergency.

The event of fire aboard ship is one of the most serious dangers faced by embarked personnel during both combat situations and peacetime. As a reservist, try to complete both Damage Control and Fire Fighting training prior to reporting aboard for AT (both schools are available on drill weekends for reservists in major fleet areas). Should you find yourself in a position to assist ship’s personnel in a fire situation and you have the required training experience, do so. Otherwise, get out of the way. For information on DC and Fire Fighting Schools, talk to your unit AT coordinator, Reserve Intelligence Program Officer (RIPO) or Naval Air Reserve (NAVAIRES) Training Department. Also, review the appropriate sections of a current edition of the Blue Jacket’s Manual.

L. Security Alerts

Security alerts are called away in response to threats to ship’s security. Stand clear of passageways and ladderwells to make way for the Security Force (they will be armed). If you do not make way, they will be justified in running you over with no apologies. If the security team is in your particular work area the procedure is to lay flat. If the Security Force tells you to do something do it, they will not stand on ceremony.

M. Signal Bridge/Flight Deck/FOD/Vultures Row

All navy ships have a signal bridge. To the intelligence officer or specialist, this is the area where sighting teams are called to photograph items of interest such as foreign warships, merchantmen, or aircraft. If you are assigned to the sighting team, learn the quickest route to the Signal Bridge in advance.

If assigned to a carrier, the flight deck offers a unique source of fascination and entertainment for those who have never witnessed flight operations. Personnel who work on the flight deck receive monthly hazardous duty pay, which should be some indication of how dangerous a job it is. Going up on the flight deck or catwalks during flight operations is prohibited regardless of rank. An easy, and unobtrusive, way to watch flight operations is via the Pilot’s Landing Aid Television (PLAT) system. There are several (usually four to five) television cameras that cover the entire flight deck. Continuous views of landings and launches can be seen on any 9TV (SCCTV) or 14TV (ship’s entertainment TV system) monitor around the ship. If you want to watch flight operations other than on the PLAT system, an excellent place to do so is "Vulture’s Row" located on the island superstructure around the 09 or 010 level. It is likely that you will receive a tour of the flight deck and "Vulture’s Row" when reporting aboard with your CVIC guide. Initially, do not visit either of these areas unless you have received a tour first. Vulture’s Row offers an unobstructed view of both aircraft launches and recoveries. Picture taking is allowed but remember that using a flash at night is strictly prohibited. While perched on Vulture’s Row, be sure to remove your cover and all the small items from your shirt pockets and remember to wear some form of ear protection!

As a member of the CVIC team, you may be required to report to Vulture’s Row or the Signal Bridge, as part of the sighting team (also known as the "Snoopy" or "Big Eyes" teams). As mentioned above, the sighting team is called away to photograph and identify foreign military or commercial ships of interest as well as aircraft coming into contact with the carrier battlegroup. Exposed film is then developed by the Photo Lab and returned to the CVIC team for analysis.

An excellent opportunity to get up on the flight deck to remind yourself there really is a sun is during FOD walk-downs. FOD is the acronym for Foreign Object Damage, the small bits and pieces of debris, nuts, bolts, wire clippings, etc. that can get sucked into a jet engine and cause thousands of dollars damage or possibly even cause a plane to crash. FOD walk-downs are usually held before the start of each major flight evolution.

N. Flight Deck Jersey Colors

While watching flight operations on the carrier you will notice several different types of crew supporting the aircraft on deck. These crews each wear a different color jersey to identify their function.

Jersey Colors


Ordnancemen, repair parties and fire fighters.


Aircraft handling, chockman, and elevator operators.


Aircraft maintenance men.


Aircraft movement directors and catapult officers.


Plane captains.


Fuelers who refuel aircraft between missions.


Other (medical team, air wing LSOs, sighting teams, safety personnel, and visitors).

O. Ship’s plan of the Day (POD)

The Ship’s Plan of the Day lists information pertaining to next days routine, special drills, uniform of the day, etc., and is posted throughout the ship. You are responsible for knowing what is in the POD for the day. Carry a copy of the Plan-of-the-Day with you. It is usually available the night before in the wardroom or mess hall.

P. Ship’s Television System & Entertainment

On carriers, most recreational and some workspaces have a television monitor which is part of the ship’s television system (smaller ships may not have a television system). In most cases, three channels are available which offer programming in a twelve-hour cycle. The first carries recently released motion pictures. The second typically shows network programs such as sitcoms and series. The third channel offers training programming (e.g., safety, damage control, enlisted rate training, etc.) for ship’s personnel. Some extra channels may be hooked up to live CNN feeds through the use of an onboard satellite dish. Another extra channel may show activity on the flight deck via the PLAT cameras mounted in the ship’s stern and flight deck itself.

Most ships also have a designated area where the crew can view movies (e.g., a large screen TV in a special area). Most officer wardrooms have a TV with a VCR and a library of movies on tape. Check to see what entertainment opportunities exist on the ship you are assigned to.

Q. Going Ashore

During your period of AT, it is possible that the ship will visit a port (foreign or domestic). Tradition requires that you obtain permission from the OOD to leave the ship (in the same fashion that you obtained permission to board originally). When requesting permission to leave, present your ID card and have a copy of your orders with you. Before making your way to the Quarterdeck, obtain permission to leave from your supervisor. Formal permission to leave the ship is requested in the following manner:

Salute the OOD and say, "i request permission to go ashore, sir." (In the same manner as boarding, always address the OOD as "sir," as he or she represents the authority of the ship’s commanding officer.). The OOD will reply, "Very well," and return the salute. If the ship is tied up in port, proceed down the gangplank. Remember to pause halfway and face to salute the national ensign aft during daylight hours. If at anchorage, make your way to the launch boarding area. When returning to the ship, follow the same boarding procedure outlined earlier in this section.

When going ashore by launch, junior officers always board first and take the forward seats. Senior officers and VIPs take the rear seats of the launch. Disembarking the launch is done in the reverse order; namely, seniors leave first followed by juniors.

Order of Debarkation

Maritime tradition dictates an order of debarkation at the conclusion of each at-sea period that is never deviated from.

Debarkation at the end of cruise is in the following order:

    1. Bodies of any casualties.
    2. Wounded.
    3. Ship’s commanding officer and/or his personal aide.
    4. Mail.
    5. All ship’s personnel who have permission to go ashore.


1. How Much To Take?

Within limits set by minimum seabag requirements, take only what you absolutely need for the short time you will be on the ship (remember you will be on AT for twelve to fourteen days not six months). Also keep in mind that whatever you pack, you will have to carry down narrow passageways and ladderwells. It is not uncommon to have to walk a long distance until you locate your berthing location, so pack efficiently. Storage space is also at a premium, so less in this case is always better than more.

2. Laundry and Marking Your Clothing

Before turning in your clothing to the ship’s laundry, it should be stenciled with the first initial of your last name and the last four numbers of your Social Security Number. Example: A0480. Some ship’s laundry may have other requirements in terms of marking your clothing or paperwork that must accompany your laundry. Verify with your point-of-contact onboard what the requirements and laundry days are. Markings should be made in indelible black ink. Generally, felt tip clothing pens or clothing stamp kits are available at the exchange or uniform shop. Mark your clothing well if you ever want to see again.

Clothing Marking Guide:

Shirts and undershirts:

Inside center of neckband where ink will not bleed through.

Trousers and underwear:

Inside center of waistband.

Dark clothing, dungarees:

May need to be done in white so markings will show. Do an extra good job since white markings tend to disappear quickly.


You may be required to put your wash in a large mesh laundry bag. Most available laundry bags require a large laundry bag pin to close it up. The bag will also need to be marked with your name and/or the location of your living space. Enlisted personnel may have to put laundry in large bag with other personnel’s laundry (i.e., division or berthing compartment bag). Bring the indelible black ink pen with you aboard ship.

Laundry is usually done twice a week on separate days for officers and enlisted. Inventory your dirty clothes on a laundry list form and attach it to your laundry bag. This assists the ship’s laundry in keeping track of your items. Laundry is usually returned the same day, depending on the size of the ship.

3. Civilian Clothing

A U.S. Navy warship is not the cleanest place in the world, so do not bring your best civilian clothes. It is easy to get dirty even when boarding the ship. However, do remember to bring civilian clothing appropriate to the climate for liberty calls.

4. Bathrobe/Towel Wrap

Showers are generally detached from berthing compartments. It is therefore a good idea to have something to wear while going back and forth to the shower and head. Always be considerate of your shipmates.

5. Sleepwear

It is generally not a good idea to sleep in the buff. You never know when a "Man Overboard" or "General Quarters" will be called away. Have your gym shorts or skivvies pull double duty.

6. Showers/Shower Shoes

Plan to bring some sort of shower shoes, thongs, flip-flops, etc. As mentioned above, the head and/or shower may be some distance from your quarters. Wearing some kind of footwear into the shower itself will save you from a potential case of athlete’s foot or a stubbed toe. Note, aboard ship, "Navy" showers are the norm: 1) wet down, 2) soap up, 3) rinse off. Use no more than 1-2 minutes of water!

7. Other Accessories

Although the following items are not required, you might consider bringing them along to capture your memories and make your time at sea more enjoyable.

a. Athletic Clothes

You are onboard to learn as much as you can about ship’s operations and intelligence support to operating forces. Some duty can be long and tiresome. Therefore, it is an excellent idea to exercise to relieve stress and otherwise keep fit. Bring some running or athletic gear to jog or use the athletic equipment on ship (see the section on exercising above).

b. Camera

A camera is a good idea for recording your AT-at-Sea adventure. Bring all the film you think you might use, as it may not be available in the ship’s store. Please note photography may be prohibited in certain parts of the ship. This almost always includes the CVIC or intelligence spaces! Use common sense as well as security awareness when taking pictures. A good rule is to always ask before you take any pictures aboard ship.

c. Personal Tape and CD Players

Bring only a few select tapes or disks, not your whole collection, plus some extra batteries or an AC converter. Generally speaking, it is a good idea to use batteries, as there might not be sufficient electrical outlets. Please note that all electrical equipment you bring aboard must be cleared. Check when you report aboard! Also, be careful when wearing headphones to listen to your personal music. Do not completely "tune out" the ship. Important announcements can be made at any time. Remember that the ship operates 24 hours a day.

d. Mini Flashlight and Belt Pouch

It is highly recommended that you bring a small flashlight and keep it with you at all times. Some kind of lighting device is crucial for finding your way back to your rack after "lights out" or during the occasional power outage. In some cases, having your own flashlight can mean the difference between life and death (e.g., during a fire). Should you find yourself on deck, the Carrier Island, or anywhere outside at night, only use a red-filtered lighting device.


It is an excellent idea to bring with you everything you will need for your two weeks aboard ship. Although many ships have ship stores, they will not always carry the exact items you need or prefer. Also, since many two week AT-at-Sea tours occur during short exercises or deployment periods, many ship stores will be under-stocked. Plan on bringing some spending money, a phone credit card, and your ATM card. You will want to have some cash for buying souvenirs of your tour or a snack that the mess does not carry. ATM machines are also available to restock your depleted cash supply. Many ships now also have pay telephones available for your personal use, just in case you want to check in with your family or friends and let them know how much fun you are having.

1. Uniforms

Plan to bring the uniforms listed below. Of special note, officer’s khaki shirts and trousers should be the 100% wash cotton variety known as "working khaki" or the new wool-blend khakis. Do not bring Certified Navy Twill (i.e., 100% polyester) as it is prohibited for duty on ship (polyester can burn or melt in extreme temperatures). When packing uniforms and civilian clothes, be cognizant of the weather in the operational area you expect to be in (i.e., hot or cold climate). Intelligence personnel generally spend a lot of time indoors and may want to bring a uniform jacket or sweater (most ship’s computer spaces are notorious for over-air conditioning). Note: proper uniform aboard ship for officers is no ribbons with nametag.


Khaki shirts (officer & CPOs). Note: long sleeves recommended.


Khaki trousers (Officers & CPOs)


Uniform jacket or windbreaker (khaki)


Sets of dungarees (Enlisted)


Uniform sweater (optional but recommended)


Uniform of the day (Enlisted Dress Uniform appropriate for season).


Pair underwear




Pair of socks


Pair of black steel-toed leather shoes (note: Corfams not allowed aboard ship)

2. Other clothing


Bathrobe (optional but highly recommended)


Pair of gym shorts


Pair of running shoes


Pair of gym socks


Gym shirts


Pair of shower shoes (thongs or flip-flops highly recommended)

3. Shaving and Shower gear


Bar soap and container


Can shaving cream and razor


Toothbrush & toothpaste




Can of deodorant

4. Miscellaneous/Optional Articles

If Needed

Ample supply of prescription drugs that ship’s store or infirmary may not have.


Mesh laundry bag


Laundry bag fastener pin


Indelible ink marker


Towel and washcloth


Alarm clock (battery powered highly recommended)


Set of stationary (optional)


Small, potable tape player and tapes (optional)

Or 1

Small portable CD Player and CDs (optional)


Reading material (optional)