The Aft Lookout

I said face forward, Seaman
The past is not yours
You’ve done half a dog’s watch[1]
You’ve no medals, no tours

I come from a time
Of steel men and wood ships
You are new to these waters
Batten down those loose lips[2]

My nose, it is hardened
My skin’s crusted with salt
You’re fresh, in need of ruling
Bring inspiration to a halt!

Your beliefs are newfangled
They are foreign to me
This is how it’s always been done
Flog your social mastery[3]

You should learn your new place
Lower decks you now stay
Stow self-thought under bunk
Lest it be lost in the spray

Storms rage overhead
Yet I know not of fear
I am the aft lookout[4]
This way, we shall steer


1 A ‘Dog’s Watch’ is a form of maritime watch system that is typically between 1600 and 2000. This is often split in half to form a ‘first’ and ‘second’ dog watch. ‘Half a Dog’s Watch’ is a slang term used to identify that a person has completed a very short period of service.

2 ‘Loose lips sink ships’ is an idiom coined during World War II that means beware of unguarded talk.

3 ‘Social mastery’ is Navy’s contribution to the Defence Professional Mastery continuum and focuses on unlocking our own and other’s potential.

4 A lookout is a person at the ship’s bridge who maintains a continuous watch of the sea to report any kind of hazard that can cause harm to the ship. The ‘aft lookout’ is responsible for keeping watch behind the ship for potential dangers.