King Neptune Certificate

Bibliographic Information


King Neptune Certificate




"King Neptune's certificate of crossing the equator - Sgt. Frederick H. Hill Aboard the USS General John Pope en route to New Guinea from New Port News Virginia" From "Darkroom Soldier": "Loyal Order of the Deep. The ceremony of 'crossing the line' is a naval initiation rite commemorating a sailor's first crossing of the equator. Dating back to the 18th century, 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. 'King Neptune and his court' (usually including his first assistant Davy Jones and her Highness Amphitrite and often various dignitaries, who are all represented by the highest ranking seamen) officiate at the ceremony, during which the Pollywogs undergo a number of increasingly disgusting ordeals: wearing clothing inside out and backwards
crawling on hands and knees on nonskid-coated decks
being swatted with short lengths of firehose
being locked in stocks and pillories and pelted with leftovers from the galley
crawling through large tubs of garbage
kissing King Neptune's belly coated with axle grease. Once the ceremony is complete, a Pollywog receives a certificate like Sgt Hill's declaring his new status. As late as World War II, the rite was still rather rough, and beatings or other forms of hazing were often still common, usually with wet firehoses. Several World War II Navy deck logs speak of untold sailors visiting sickbay after crossing the line." ("Darkroom Soldier" caption authored by George Venn)






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