General quarters

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Audio snippet of a general quarters drill aboard USS Nimitz in the early 2010s

General quarters, battle stations, or action stations is an announcement made aboard a naval warship to signal that all hands (everyone available) aboard a ship must go to battle stations as quickly as possible.[1]

According to The Encyclopedia of War, formerly "[i]n naval service, the phrase "beat to quarters" indicated a particular kind of drum roll that ordered sailors to their posts for a fight where some would load and prepare to fire the ship's guns and others would arm with muskets and ascend the rigging as sharpshooters in preparation for combat."[2]

Aboard U.S. Navy Vessels, the following announcement would be made using the vessel’s public address system (known as the 1MC):

“General Quarters, General Quarters. All hands man your battle stations. The direction of travel is up and forward on your starboard side, down and aft on your port side.”


  1. ^ Cutler, Deborah W. Cutler, Thomas J. (2005). Dictionary of naval terms (6th ed.). Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 9781591141501.
  2. ^ David, Saul (2012). The Encyclopedia of War. Dorling Kindersley Ltd. p. 396. ISBN 978-1409386643.

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