port/starboard and left/right

Prof. R. Sussex sussex at UQ.EDU.AU
Wed Sep 4 01:30:08 UTC 2002

What is the use of
in the American military and civilian domains?

Commonwealth sea-borne transport, civil and military, still holds to
port/starboard. American navy practice, if "Hunt for Red October"
("right full rudder") is any indication, goes for left/right. But a
friend who served on the "Ticonderoga" tells me they were a strictly
port/starboard operation. I don't know about the US merchant marine.
I can't find a Seaspeak source on the web which lists international

Commonwealth civilian aircraft seem to have gone over to left/right,
I believe under the influence of American practice, Airspeak and so

Commonwealth military airforces refer to port/starboard in relative
orientation (aircraft to port, turn to starboard) but talk in
"left/right" terms to air traffic control.

What are the conventions in the US, and does anyone know an
authoritative on-line source? Are there any uses where port/starboard
are unmarked in the US?

Roly Sussex

A piece of non-standardized air practice: apparently over China and
the old USSR, height is measured in metres, but elsewhere in feet.
Airspeed is in knots, irrespective. So much for universal


Roly Sussex
Professor of Applied Language Studies
Department of French, German, Russian, Spanish and Applied Linguistics
School of Languages and Comparative Cultural Studies
The University of Queensland
Queensland 4072

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