What term expresses an increase of troops or other military units in a standoff between two armies, when no actual fighting has yet occurred? Specifically, I'm looking for something in the context of a naval battle.

For land-based tactics, I've heard massing of troops, but what is a better term for a conflict at sea?

EDIT: Ideally, I'm looking for a verb:

The warships were VERB-ing

6 Answers 6


In the context of a naval buildup, some phrases that are frequently used:

  • "warships converged on"
  • "warships deployed to"
  • "The Navy marshaled warships in the theater"
  • "naval forces were reinforced by two additional battleships"

I'm not sure, but possibly a military build-up?

  • damn, you beat me to it. It's not specifically naval, though.
    – user1579
    Mar 4, 2011 at 14:41
  • 1
    @Rhodri, @Andrew: googling and searching newspapers shows that naval buildup is pretty frequently used!
    – PLL
    Mar 4, 2011 at 14:49

I second the suggestion of "naval buildup", but for the specific example you give "massing" (as you first suggested) or "gathering" is the best fit:

The warships were massing.

  • What about 'amassing'? Would it be a better option for this?
    – JFW
    Mar 4, 2011 at 15:40
  • 2
    It's too bad we don't say "The warships were fleeting."
    – Hellion
    Mar 4, 2011 at 16:31
  • "naval buildup" sounds like something that can be addressed with a soapy rag.
    – tenfour
    Mar 4, 2011 at 16:41
  • @JFW: I don't think so. Isn't "amass" transitive, as in "amassing a fortune"?
    – user1579
    Mar 4, 2011 at 16:43
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    @Ankur Banerjee, that's the source of the humor in my comment.
    – Hellion
    Mar 5, 2011 at 16:46

For a naval deployment, "The ships were gathering."


A nautical term doesn't come to mind, though I would use "amass" as opposed to "mass" which technically implies a grouping of things or persons, usually unintelligibly. In other words, sheep mass; armies amass.


Due to an escalation of force, the warships were converging on the strait of ...

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