How did the phrase ‘aye aye captain’ originate?
Before radios became popular on ships, captains would be in the crow’s nest with a telescope and sextant to look for any potential dangers. Their assistants accompanied them, called “mates,” and their main job was to relay messages. If a lookout announced something, like “land ahoy!” the captain would then say “aye-aye” which meant that he had heard it and they’d head down into the cabin to use a chart table, compass, etc. That way they were able to do their jobs even if they couldn’t see what the crew saw from where they were stationed in the crow’s nest.
Eventually horns replaced buoys as navigational aids for larger vessels coming near land. The original phrase survives today as a cute way to say “yes” or “okay.”