Pollywog to Shellback – A Tradition
In the U.S. Navy, when a ship crosses the equator, a time honored ceremony
takes place. This is a Navy tradition and an event no sailor ever forgets. With few exceptions, those who have been inducted
into the “mysteries of the deep” by Neptune Rex and his royal court, count the experience as a highlight of their naval career. Members of Neptune
Rex’s party usually include Davy Jones, Neptune’s first assistant, Her Highness Amphitrite, the Royal Scribe,
the Royal Doctor, the Royal Dentist, the Royal Baby, the Royal Navigator, the Royal Chaplain, the Royal Judge, Attorneys,
Barbers and other names that suit the party. Officially
recognized by service record entries indicating date, time, latitude and longitude, the crossing of the equator involves elaborate
preparation by the “shellbacks” (those who have crossed the equator before) to ensure the “pollywogs”
(those who are about to cross the equator for the first time) are properly indoctrinated. All pollywogs, even the Commanding
Officer if he has not crossed before, must participate.
T’was nine in the morning and all was well,
King Neptune arrived and we rang ten bells.
The royal court was displeased beyond
The pollywogs did more than they should have dared!
The slimy band
was assembled at the bow,
Not one was better than a fat, slothful sow,
Some of the slime
were attired as women.
All resembled the worse kind of vermin.
The depraved were
deloused, cleansed and then
The slimy crew was transformed into men.
remained where the filth had been,
All Hail to the “King of the Ranging Main”