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Nautical Terminology: Gundecking

In the modern Navy, falsifying reports, records and the like is often referred to as "gundecking."  The origin of the term is somewhat obscure, but at the risk of gundecking, here are two plausible explanations for its modern usage.

The first relates to ship construction.  The deck below the upper deck on British sailing ships-of-war was called the gundeck although it carried no guns.  This false deck may have been constructed to deceive enemies as to the amount of armament carried, thus the gundeck was a falsification.

A more plausible explanation may stem from shortcuts taken by early Midshipmen when doing their navigation lessons.  Each Mid was supposed to take sun lines at noon and star sights at night and then go below to the gundeck, work out their calculations and show them to the Navigator.  Certain of these young men, however, had a special formula for getting the correct answers.  They would note the noon or last position on the quarter-deck traverse board and determine the approximate current position by dead reckoning plotting.  Armed with this information, they proceeded to the gundeck to "gundeck" their navigation homework by simply working backwards from the dead reckoning position.

Physical gundecks no longer exist in modern ships, but the concept of falsifying reports continues alive and well with the humans.


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# re: Nautical Terminology: Gundecking

Gravatar It also refers to not doing your work (such as routine maintenance) and claiming you did.

I remember being told that gundecking originated from hanging out around the gundeck and getting some sun instead of being below deck, working on the assigned task.

DP2 Williams 3/28/2005 6:03 PM | chris

# re: Nautical Terminology: Gundecking

Gravatar Gundecking is the term used to describe when Sailors take shortcuts or completely falsify maintenance procedures.
Make no mistake about the procedure, even if the air force found it inadequate, preventive maintenance is exactly what it implies: maintain the equipment with regular check-ups to ensure proper operation. Very simple. Human error or indifference is the root cause for malfunction of our most cherished defenders of the seas. We have no power over those that preform these checkups, but maybe we can lend an ear to those that report abuse of these procedures. Their lives and even ours may depend on it .God bless the United States of America 6/23/2005 4:29 AM | "Duck"

# re: Nautical Terminology: Gundecking

Gravatar A Navy buddy told me that it was from guys taking a pencil to mask over rust on the gun deck, instead of doing the work to remove the rust. Henceforth, taking shortcuts of that type were "gun decking". 12/9/2005 7:56 PM | an Army guy

# re: Nautical Terminology: Gundecking

Gravatar Gundecking:

A simple term used when a sailor takes a short cut while working on the task at hand. In laymans terms "Half-assing" is used. 5/30/2007 12:19 AM | Scott

# re: Nautical Terminology: Gundecking

Gravatar My boss and good friend Jim had used the term 'gundecking' in the context of filling out the paperwork after the work was done - solve the problem first, then make the paperwork consistent with the results. I'm sure he picked up the term working as an Army diver (yes, there are such animals) and I took it as following the spirit, if the letter, of a procedure. 8/15/2007 2:05 AM | Bob

# re: Nautical Terminology: Gundecking

Gravatar A Navy buddy told me that it was from guys taking a pencil to mask over rust on the gun deck, instead of doing the work to remove the rust. Henceforth, taking shortcuts of that type were "gun decking". 11/17/2007 1:53 PM | seo yarışması

# re: Nautical Terminology: Gundecking

Gravatar We use that term at work at the VA hospital. All of the guys that I work with in Materiel Management, were Navy as well as myself. So anytime a department puts in a request for equipment and doesn't fill it out completely, we say "they GUNDECKED it". 5/12/2008 6:44 PM | Steve

# re: Nautical Terminology: Gundecking

Gravatar When you were assigned PMS in the Navy and did not complete it per the PMS card, it was termed Gun Decking, or you 2.5 that job. 9/18/2009 9:00 PM | Daryl Hill

# re: Nautical Terminology: Gundecking

Gravatar I believe the term gun decking originated when a sailor was told to count the ammunition in a locked ammunition locker. If the locker had not been opened since the last counting, the sailor assumed the count was the same as before. The sailor then filled out the report, using the same count for each type of ammunition as before. Eventually the term became more generic. The common usage now is not doing work assigned 10/24/2009 5:00 AM | RL Waller

# re: Nautical Terminology: Gundecking

Gravatar To "Gundeck" is to falsify work or records in order to appear compliant or develop plausibility of fact for personal gain due to someone’s personal weaknesses of Honor, Courage, and Commitment. Reference 1988-93 active duty U.S. Navy and currently as a Reservist. 11/4/2009 10:01 AM | Smith

# re: Nautical Terminology: Gundecking

Gravatar Doing a "half-ass" job is NOT "gundecking". Some try hard but never seem to do the job just right but they at least tried. "Gundecking" involves a man's character and integrity. "Gundecking" is telling an "out-and-out", intentional lie. I'm an ole "Bubble Head" so hear me well. I do not want to be at sea with a man who will gundeck. That person will get people killed.
1/31/2010 6:13 AM | P. Perkins

# re: Nautical Terminology: Gundecking

Gravatar Served on board the USS Boxer, 62 to 63 in the Electronics Division (OE). We were required to perfom daily preventive maintenace on all the ship's electronic equipment and note the measurements etc in a book (one for each piece of equipment) called "POMSEE" for "preventive and operation maintainance of shipboard electronic equipment." As I was responsible for roughly 70 radar repeaters and one radar, there simply wasn't enough time to visit each piece and run the set of check. I would therefore visit "several" but note in every POMSEE book in the office that they were within spec. The chief told me I was "gundecking" the POMSEEs and to stop 2/3/2010 9:31 AM | Michael

# re: Nautical Terminology: Gundecking

Gravatar Gundecking is a fine and respected tradition! It allows the evasion of a lot totally useless paperwork. It was my usual mode of operation. I was also a top notch liberty hound!
Shady 12/9/2010 1:48 AM | Shady

# re: Nautical Terminology: Gundecking

Gravatar I know there seem to be many origins that are brought up to this term -- the meaning whilst i was in the navy was half assing as someone has said or just not taking care to do a good clean job-- it comes I beleive from boot camp when arms drills are done the motion of putting the arms at rest you could not slap the butt on the deck --which was gundecking 5/5/2011 11:09 PM | Chuck Wilson

# re: Nautical Terminology: Gundecking

Gravatar Wow - all these interesting interpretation.

My background is the U.S. Navy. I find the original explanation quite interesting, i.e. Midshipmen cheating on their navigation watch qualifications, but that's the first I've heard of that tale.

The term "Gundecking" as I've understood it, originates on the military parade grounds during close-order-drills. When a sailor is given the command "Order Arms" (also known as "Shoulder Arms"), he is supposed to drop his rifle quickly to his side, stopping when the rifle butt is perhaps a half-inch off the ground (and holding the top of the gun barrel by his left finger tips). The ideal is to execute this command in unison in a "snap", but to NOT drop 50 or 100 gun butts on the deck in the process. When a unit is poorly trained or individuals lack "attention to detail", they'll allow their rifles to hit the deck, e.g. as in "gun-decking", resulting in a loud chorus of "thuds". When a well trained unit executes "Order Arms", it's a thing of beauty, and also very quiet.

So, the next time you see a military drill team in action, if you notice "thuds" of gun butts hitting the deck as they "Order Arms", you can say to your friends with authority that "those guys are just gundecking" their drill. 9/7/2011 10:19 PM | Old Salt

# re: Nautical Terminology: Gundecking

Gravatar A coworker indicated when he was in the Navy, pencil whipping his hourly steam readings as he could take a nap in the corner at 3 AM. 6/18/2012 2:25 PM | kathysmith

# re: Nautical Terminology: Gundecking

Gravatar The term Gun decking refers to falsifying reports, records or required work assignments.
9/20/2014 3:03 PM | Malcohm McGregor HMCS Retired

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