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U.A - Upper
U.A. - UNDER AGE A rating below the age of 20 years is not allowed to receive the daily rum ration; he is accordingly marked in the ship's books with the letters U.A. (= Under Age). He is similarly debarred from drawing grog in which to splice the mainbrace. The expression is sometimes used offensively by an older rating to a youngster to emphasise his youth. Twenty years as the minimum age for drawing the spirit ration was introduced in November, 1881. see GROG: RUM
UCKERS Naval slang name for Ludo. The game is sometimes played on a giant board, with pieces to match, the ship's 'funny party' being the players.
ULLAGE (1) That which remains in a cask (or box) when some of the contents have been removed; i.e., an incomplete package. (2) Slang - a person of low intelligence or value; i.e. with something missing from his make-up.
UNIFORM Naval Uniform (Officers) No uniform dress for naval officers was established until 1748. King George II (influenced by his sight of the Duchess of Bedford - wife of the then first Lord of the Admiralty) chose blue and white for naval officers after viewing a parade of possible costumes. Originally rank was indicated by the shape and cut of the lapels and cuffs; distinctive embroidery on the cuffs came in in 1783 (becoming, in 1795, rows of gold lace), for Flag Officers only. Rows of gold lace for officers below flag rank were introduced in 1856, with the upper row 'curled' in 1864. White uniform for naval officers on foreign stations was introduced in 1885, shoulder straps showing rank markings in 1891. The Uniform Regulations are published in the Appendix to the Navy List. see also CURL: MIDSHIPMAN. EGGS.

Naval Uniform (Ratings) Over the years it has been the practice for the sailor to provide his own clothing, getting it where he likes or making it himself or getting a messmate to make it for him hence the traditional pipe, "Hands to make and mend clothes". In the early days of the XIX century sailors used to wear different rigs in different ships and the ship's Captain decreed the uniform to be worn by his ship's company; see BLAZER. Not until 1857 was any uniform costume for naval ratings officially decreed, though "slops" clothing had been provided since 1623 (first caps, stockings and underclothes; later - 1706 - grey jackets, red waistcoats and red or striped breeches or trousers), and the first Uniform Regulations were issued in 1857. Short blue jackets with brass buttons (hence the name BLUEJACKET) became uniform in 1857 but were withdrawn in 1891; black tarpaulin hats (hence the name JACK TAR) lasted the same period; these hats were "boater"-shaped, worn with a cap-ribbon round the crown. Sailors' sennet hats were replaced by tropical helmets in 1921; the tropical helmets were generally withdrawn in about 1942. Zip-fastened jumpers and plastic-topped caps are now (1954) on trial. Uniform trousers for a man 5'10" tall measure 25 inches round the bottom of each leg. see also BELL PUSSER. In about 1860 naval ratings were given about £2 (increased to £10 in 1900) to help them meet the cost of their clothes. In 1906 men were first given a free kit of clothing and bedding on entry into the Service, but they had to continue to provide replacements and additions at their own expense until 1917 when a monetary clothing allowance was first instituted. This allowance - known as Kit Upkeep Allowance ("K.U.A") - is directly linked with the prices of clothing from "slops" and includes an element for boot-repairs and also (?) for haircutting. The rates are now (1954) about £20 per year for Chief and Petty Officers, about £17 for men dressed as seamen and about £19 for junior ratings in 'fore-&' rig. see FORE.

UNLUCKY DAYS Sailing on a Friday, or on the 13th day of the month, has never been popular with sailors. H.M.S. LONDON was due to sail from Portsmouth on her maiden commission on Friday 29th March, 1929 (Good Friday, to boot) but sailing was advanced 24 hours on the representations of the Lord Mayor of London.
UPPER YARDMEN Ratings picked out as suitable for training and advancement direct to officer rank. In the days of sail, the men who manned the upper yards were generally regarded as the smartest men in the ship. This name for officer-candidates came into use in about 1935. see MATE: WAISTER.