Crossing The Line
On 8 May 1968 we entered the Indian Ocean from the Straits of Malacca, giving CLAUD JONES the distinction of having operated in every major ocean of the world and with every major United States Navy Fleet. The date also marked our heading toward the Equator, the realm of Neptunus Rex, and the “crossing the line.” Naval Customs and Traditions describes the traditional initiation ceremonies: “For you must know that any craft who’d fain cross the Great Sea Lord’s Special Royal Domain, must pay the tribute that King Neptune wishes, and be received by mermaids, bears, and fishes. We will see you on the morn, and any who resists will wish he had not been born. “The boisterous ceremonies of ‘crossing the line’ are of such ancient vintage that their derivation is lost; such ‘horseplay’ took place in the Middle Ages, and even before that when ships crossed the thirtieth parallel or passed through the Straits of Gibraltar. These early ceremonies were extremely
rough, and to a large degree were supposed to test the crew to determine whether or not the novices, the ‘boots’ on their first cruise could endure the hardships of a life at sea. Then, as now, it was primarily a crew’s ‘party.’ It is highly probab’e that the present day ceremony was passed on to the Angles, Saxons, and Normans from the Vikings.
“At an even earlier time there is record of ceremonies of propitiation. Neptune, the mythological god of the seas, was appeased by the seamen, and marks of respect were paid those of his under-water domain. It is plausible that a part of the present ceremony grew out of the superstitions of those days, even though Viking sailors had come to doubt the physical existence of Neptune.”
Davey Jones Linzey arrived just after sunset on 9 May, thus ending Pollywog’s day of play which left Chief Macht a bald mess, left MM2 Welty a fat honey bear, and left everyone “dubious” in anticipation of Shellback day.
I dare you to do that again and they did... and they did...