Saluting Guide - How To Board A USN Vessel

by Commander Scott Phillips

     We all know the basics of saluting. Salute approximately 5 paces away from a senior rank to yourself and hold salute until the senior officer returns the salute or until approximately 5 paces past the one you are saluting. During colors and taps: face the flag if seen, or in the direction of the music if the flag in not seen. When in a car stop and turn down (or completely off) during the observance of colors and taps.

     During a parade or formation: you would be saluting the same as a senior officer. Approximately 5 paces away from the approaching Flag and hold salute until the Flag has past you by approximately 5 paces. If you are not in uniform, come to attention, uncover, and place you hand over your heart. This applies to any of the above. But, have you ever wondered how to board a USS Naval Vessel properly? It seems very simple but there is a method. If you are in a group, the most junior will board first ending with the most senior person in the group. This is done with seniority within each rank/rate (O1’s) (and this is a hard thing to know at times) as well as rank/rate seniority (E1’s to O10’s). The opposite is the process for departing the vessel. Just remember the most senior person should spend the least amount of time on the vessel. They will be last on and first off when in a group. Now that you are familiar with the group boarding ‘line up’ and your ready to walk up the gangway keep this in mind. When you reach the halfway point of the gangway you must stop, turn to the stern (where the Colors are located), come to attention, and render a salute.

     Approach the quarterdeck. The quarterdeck is the watch station on the vessel at the gangway. BEFORE stepping off the gangway, you must stop, come to attention, present your ID, salute, and request permission to board. When you request permission all you need to state is “Permission to come aboard, Sir/Ma’am”. When you’ve been given permission to board lower your salute and follow any directions the quarter deck may have for you, or just carry on.