The Smoking Lamp
was used on old naval
vessels to signify that smoking
was allowed. If the Captain authorized
it, the fire watch would light the smoking lamp and the crew would light their tobacco
products from this lamp. When hazardous condition
s were encountered, the smoking lamp would be extinguish
ed. Normally, this was done during gunpowder
In the modern US Navy, the smoking lamp is used as a term to indicate that the Captain has authorized smoking in designated areas. Whenever fuel or ammunition is transferred or flight quarters is sounded (incoming helicopter, for example), the smoking lamp would be "out".
Flight quarters was sounded when our SH-60B helicopter was coming in. This is the message that would be read over the 1MC (speakers in our hangar):
Flight quarters, flight quarters.
All hands man your flight quarter stations.
The smoking lamp is out
Wear no hats topside
Throw no trash off of the fantail
After the helo was refueled and sent on its way, they would secure flight quarters and the smoking lamp would be re-lit. The flight deck would resemble a smoking den, with twenty or so folks smoking another coffin nail.