U.S. Navy Abbreviations of World War II
The text of this published glossary of abbreviations was prepared shortly after the close of World War II. Fifty-nine words which originally appeared in an addenda page have been integrated in the main text of the document.
U.S. NAVAL ABBREVIATIONS
(Revised APRIL 1949)
OFFICE OF NAVAL RECORDS AND HISTORY
OFFICE OF THE CHIEF OF NAVAL OPERATIONS NAVY DEPARTMENT * WASHINGTON, D.C.
The roads around Pearl Harbor were alive in wartime with vehicles marked "AdComPhibsPac." The waters of Casco Bay were plowed by small boats bearing at their bows the mystic inscriptions, "DesLant" or "SOPA." In a single dim corridor of the Navy Department, "OIR" and "OR&I" indicated adjacent but quite distinct offices of "EXOS."
Altogether the Navy produced, officially or unofficially, thousands of such abbreviations during the war. A few, such as "SecNav," "CominCh," "CNO," "BuPers," and "J.g.," were well-known throughout the service. most of the rest, however, were thrown around in familiar fashion by those immediately concerned, but might be thoroughly mystifying to the rest of the Naval Establishment. it would be difficult to find a person who could even approach a perfect score in identifying "CAFAC," "JOSCO," and "OMPUS," to say nothing of "COLanForASCU," "LanCraBNAW," "NOBDUCHAR," and "PaCorNaLong," even while the war was in progress; as it grows more distant, those symbols will become even less familiar.
For the benefit of naval personnel, officials, and scholars who may have occasion to consult correspondence, reports and historical narratives in which such abbreviations occur, it has seemed desirable to prepare a glossary identifying the principal terms likely to be encountered in such documents. The need for such a glossary was indicated by the preparation of various partial lists during the war; none of these, however, covered more than a fraction of the whole.
The glossary includes most of the principal Navy, marine Corps and Coast Guard abbreviations in use from 1940 to the end of 1946. Four particular categories have been given in great detail: vessel types, naval aircraft types, commissioned and enlisted personnel designations, and Fleet Post Office numbers. The vessel types, while numerous, are clear cut. For aircraft, the nickname as well as the official designation is given, and the general meaning of the initials indicating function and manufacturer. The personnel designations were changed several times during the period, particularly for reserve officers; these are all included, with cross-referencing to avoid needless repetition. For purposes of security, the names of overseas stations and units were frequently omitted not only from envelope addresses but also from the contents; without the assistance of the list reproduced under "Navy Numbers," it would be difficult to identify the source of letters which simply had the printed headings "Naval District Headquarters, Navy No. 121, FPO New York" or "Naval Operating Base, Navy No. 1504, FPO San Francisco."
The general abbreviations fall into two major types. "Commander Philippine Sea Frontier," for instance, was sometimes contracted to "ComPhilSeaFron" and at other times to "CPSF." The former type was whimsically compared by one columnist to the practice of the Russians with their "Politburo" or "Amtogr." Such contractions are much easier to deduce than the more numerous combinations of initials which follow the British practice. Some abbreviations received an official blessing and were incorporated in aviation, communications, personnel or technical lists or manuals; others were often improvised and might vary with the individual taste of the abbreviator. "Service Squadron," for instance, appeared variously as "Seron," "Serron," "Serbon" and "Servron." Those four all appear in this glossary, but naturally it has been out of the question to include all variations.
Certain naval categories have been deliberately omitted, because of limited interest in comparison with the detail involved, or for reasons of security. One should consult pertinent bureau manuals, for instance, for the designations of their administrative subdivisions and their more specialized equipment. The long list of port markings for overseas freight shipments has likewise been left out, as have the designations of naval radio stations and plane-to-plane communication signals. The "code names" for particular operations, conferences and places will be issued shortly in a separate list. [Note: See Glossary of U.S. Naval Code Words]
Where the same abbreviation has more than one meaning, the several meanings have been arranged alphabetically. Abbreviations preceded by an asterisk (*), other than Navy numbers, may never be used singly; those preceded by the symbol for number (#) are the Bureau of Personnel Condensation Code for use in dispatch orders to personnel.
In addition to the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard abbreviations, it has seemed expedient to include, without any such pretense of completeness, certain items from other sources which are likely to be encountered in naval documents. Numerous entries of that sort will be found included in the general alphabetically arrangement, particularly for the United States Army, certain other branches of the United States Government, and some foreign navies.
The glossary has been prepared in the Office of Naval History, under the supervision of the Historian for Naval Administration. it was begun by Lt. (j.g.) R. Donald Spencer, USNR, but the great bulk of the research and arrangement is the work of Lt. Comdr. Dorothy E. Richard, USN.