Port Arms

#1
Does anyone know where the phrase "port arms" comes from?

Obviously I know what to do when I have a weapon in my hand, but the term has always mystified me. Someone told me the term came from the Royal Navy, but I don't know anything more than that.

Any ideas?
 
#2
Guess ... "port" as in "carry" from the French word "porte" [meaning "carry"].
A way of carrying a bludgy long fire-stick safely instead of draping it over your shoulder and stabbing the guy behind you with your bayonet [if fitted].

See also "Show me your musket".
 
#3
blue_sophist is right.

The command in French is (still) "Portez Armes", a contraction of "Portez vos armes" and translates as "carry your weapons, the lot of you").

See the 18th-century French drill manual I use to instruct my Evil minions, here.
 
#6
B_B: You're quite right: I forgot about historical context. In France, in French, the command "Portez Armes" means "carry those weapons which you have just dropped before running away, the lot of you".