USN BosunM8

Welcome aboard the USN BosunM8 page.

Here you can find information for U.S. Navy Boatswain's Mates.

Site includes information for Boatswain's pipe & calls, Boatswain's lanyards and other "gedunk".

Honor, Courage, Commitment

As in our past, we are dedicated to the Core Values of Honor, Courage, and Commitment to build the foundation of trust and leadership upon which our strength is based and victory is achieved. These principles on which the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Marine Corps were founded continue to guide us today. Every member of the Naval Service – active, reserve, and civilian, must understand and live by our Core Values. For more than two hundred years, members of the Naval Service have stood ready to protect our nation and our freedom. We are ready today to carry out any mission, deter conflict around the globe, and if called upon to fight, be victorious. We will be faithful to our Core Values of Honor, Courage, and Commitment as our abiding duty and privilege.


I am accountable for my professional and personal behavior. I will be mindful of the privilege I have to serve my fellow Americans.


Courage is the value that gives me the moral and mental strength to do what is right, with confidence and resolution, even in the face of temptation or adversity.


The day-to-day duty of every man and woman in the Department of the Navy is to join together as a team to improve the quality of our work, our people and ourselves.

These are the CORE VALUES of the United States Navy...

The CORE VALUES of a United States Navy Sailor.

What Do Boatswain's Mates do in the Navy?

Boatswain's Mates train, direct and supervise others in marlinspike, boat and deck seamanship: ensure proper upkeep of the ship's external structure, rigging, deck equipment and boats; lead working parties; perform seamanship tasks; are in charge of picketboats, self propelled barges, tugs and other yard and district craft; serve in or in charge of gun crews and damage control parties; use and maintain equipment for loading and unloading cargo, ammunition, food and general stores.

The Boatswain's Mate Lanyard

U.S. Navy Uniform Regulations Chapter 5 Section 4 states:

"5404. BOATSWAIN'S PIPE AND LANYARD. The boatswain's pipe and lanyard may be worn around the neck while carrying out official ceremonial duties and military watches. The lanyard is braided with Belfast cord in a traditional style and sennit. When hanging free, the bottom of the pipe shall not fall below the top of the belt. Wear white lanyards with dark / blue uniforms and black lanyards with white uniforms. Men place the pipe in the left breast pocket when not in use. Women wearing Service Dress Blue place the boatswain's pipe attached to the lanyard between the top and second button of their jacket when not in use. Do not wear them on liberty."

I have received numerous requests of "How do I make a Boatswain’s Mate Lanyard" . The best way to learn is to sit down with some of the senior or "saltier" BMs and practice the various knots needed to make one. I highly recommend The Ashley Book of Knots by Clifford Ashley. This book is a must have for any Boatswain’s Mate interested in knots and lanyard making. It is available at most book stores and can also be found online. This book has over 7,000 different knots.

You should take pride in making your Boatswain's Lanyard - plan how it will look when it is completed and be patient while working. The lanyard should be constructed using a number of various knots, hitches, sinnets and Turk’s heads. Fabricating the lanyard from a larger number of strands tends to produce a sharper, more intricate lanyard.

Boatswain's Pipe (or Call)

The boatswain’s pipe (originally termed a call) dates back to the days of sail. It had definite practical uses in those days, many of which have now ceased to exist. Men high on the royal and top gallant yards could hear the pipe under weather conditions that would cause the human voice to be inaudible or unintelligible. Although the days of sail are gone, the boatswain’s pipe is still very much a part of the Navy. Since the pipe or call is a device distinctive to the sea and particularly to the Boatswain’s Mate rating, all the Boatswain’s Mates should take special pride in knowing how to use it correctly and effectively. The use of the call implies the right to pass and to issue orders, and thus it continues a symbol of authority. In learning to use the boatswain’s pipe, you should have the benefit of instruction by an experienced BM. The following paragraphs contain specific information on the use of the pipe, but you will be able to understand and follow the information more quickly with the help of an instructor.1

1 This is an excerpt from the U.S. Navy Boatswain’s Mate Nonresident Training Course.

Tuning a Boatswain's Pipe

Whether you use a Navy-issue or a commercial pipe, the first thing you have to do is tune it. Pipes are stamped out when manufactured; therefore, both the hole and the pee are often misshapen. Most pipes are too open at the pee and have to be flattened and soldered at the sides of the pee to fill the space between the pee and the bowl; otherwise, a hissing sound of escaping air will interfere with the clearness of the call. Lets not forget the "beeswax"...Instead of solder, you can also add beeswax to the sides of the pee. Adding a small amount of beeswax into the bowl; holding the pipe at a 45 angle and melting will also improve the sound of the pipe.

Some pipes are improved by filing the wind edge, which is the edge of the bowl farthest from the pee. The hole should be filed down until the blast of air from the pee is split exactly by the sharp edge of the bowl. A test of this can be made by pushing a broom straw through the reed. The edge of the hole should split the straw. At times it is necessary to flatten the part of the reed projecting over the bowl to accomplish this. Once tuned, the pipe should sound when held with its mouth to a gentle breeze.

Boatswain's Pipe Calls - click links below to hear the calls

Standard Phraseology when Passing the Word

You must use the customary phraseology of the service when passing the word as BMOW through the ship’s general announcing system. Pages from the shipboard standard organization and regulations listing the watch routine are generally available somewhere near the watch station. Any word listed that is enclosed in quotation marks must be passed exactly as written. Here are some examples selected from a typical list: (Ref: BM NAVEDTRA 14343A).

Air Bedding: “All Divisions Air Bedding”

Arrivals and Departures: "Title of Officer" proceeded by proper number of boat gongs

Boats: “Away the Motor whaleboat (Gig) (Barge), away!”

Church Call: “Divine Services are now held (location). Maintain quite about the decks during Divine Services.”

Collision: “Collision, collision, port side frame twenty (or other location).”

8 O’clock Reports: [In Port]: “On deck all eight o’clock reports.”; [At Sea]: “Lay before the mast all eight o’clock reports.”

Extra Duty Personnel: “Lay below to the Master-At-Arms Office (or designated area) all extra duty personnel” (also used for restricted personnel).

Fire: “Fire, fire, fire, there is a class (A, B, C, D) fire in compartment give noun name of compartment if known). Away the nucleus (or in port) fire party”.

Flight Quarters: “Flight quarters, flight quarters, Man all flight quarters stations to launch (recover) aircraft (helicopters).”

General Quarters: “General quarters, general quarters, all hands man your battle stations”.

Hoist in Boats: “First division, stand by to hoist in (out) number __motor launch (gig).”

Inspection (material): “Stand by all lower deck and topside spaces for inspection.”

Inspection (Personnel): “All hands to quarters for Captain’s inspection.”

Knock off work: “Knock off ship’s work.”

Late Bunks: “Up all late bunks.”

Liberty: “Liberty commences for sections ___ and ___, to expire onboard at (hour, date, month, year).”

Mail Call: “Mail Call.”

Mess Gear: “Mess gear, clear the mess decks till pipe down.” “ Early (breakfast, dinner, supper) for messmen, cooks and watch reliefs.”

Mistake or error: “Belay my last.”

Muster on station: “All Divisions muster on station.”

Pay: “Pay day will be held in accordance with the Plan of the Day.”

Preparations for getting underway: “Make all preparations for getting underway.”

Quarter for muster: “All hands to quarters for muster, inspection and instruction.”

Reveille: “Reveille, Reveille, All hands heave out and trice up. The smoking lamp is lighted (in all authorized spaces) (out in all specific areas).”

Smoking Lamp: “The smoking lamp is out throughout the ship (or between certain frames) while taking on fuel (handling ammunition).”; “The smoking lamp is lighted in all authorized spaces.”

Sweepers: “Sweepers, sweepers man your brooms. Make a clean sweep down fore and aft. Sweep down all decks, ladders and passageways. Throw all sinkable trash clear of the fantail (or throw all trash and garbage in the receptacles provided for on the pier)."

This site is created and maintained by Brian P. Walsh, BMCS, USNR (Ret)

You can contact me at: