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Pollywog to Shellback a Tradition

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 compare.
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.
Brave shellbacks remained where the filth had been,
All Hail to the “King of the Ranging Main


Pollywogs (the bad guys)


Pollywogs on the way to the Royal Court


Ungreatfull Pollywogs are being corrected in their ways


Royal Barber and the Royal Doctor attending a lowly Pollywog.


A Pollywog getting groomed


A well groomed Pollywog


A Pollywog bows to the Royal Queen


Kissing the Royal Baby's belly


Exiting the garbarg shute


Unknowingly the former Pollywog is now a Shellback and must say that he is or he continues to get dunked


Official Shellback certificate awarded to the shipmate and 
entered into the his service record.


The Good Guys

The photographs were taken by shipmates of the USS Cromwell
during the Unitas ll cruise to So. Americain 1961 and
the USS Lester shipmates on Unitas lll in 1962


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