Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Crossing The Line

Crossing the Line (the equator) is long lived Naval tradition that included both pageantry and brutal ceremony. The below photos are from a WWII U.S. Navy ceremony and you can see a bit of what they describe in Wikipedia:

"The ceremony of Crossing the Line is an initiation rite in the Royal Navy, U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Marine Corps, and other navies that commemorates a sailor's first crossing of the Equator.[1] Originally, the tradition was created as a test for seasoned sailors to ensure their new shipmates were capable of handling long rough times at sea. Sailors who have already crossed the Equator are nicknamed (Trusty) Shellbacks, often referred to as Sons of Neptune; those who have not are nicknamed (Slimy) Pollywogs.

Equator-crossing ceremonies, typically featuring King Neptune, are also sometimes carried out for passengers' entertainment on civilian ocean liners and cruise ships. They are also performed in the merchant navy and aboard sail training ships.

As late as World War II, the line-crossing ceremony was still rather rough and involved activities such as the "Devil's Tongue", which was an electrified piece of metal poked into the sides of those deemed pollywogs. Beatings were often still common, usually with wet firehoses (they were not wet but rather salt-hardened from sea water), and several World War II Navy deck logs speak of sailors visiting sickbay after crossing the line.

Efforts to curtail the line-crossing ceremony did not begin until the 1980s, when several reports of blatant hazing began to circulate regarding the line-crossing ceremony, and at least one death was attributed to abuse while crossing the line."


kintaro said...

Very interesting piece of naval history.

Justin said...

I have my grandfathers certificate from crossing the equator framed on my wall. Such a cool piece of art and history.


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