The Navy has a long and rich history of following traditions regardless of production value. One such tradition is the crossing the line ceremony (affectionately known as Wog Day) in which a naval vessel passes through the Equator. During the ceremony, both Captain Davey Jones and King Neptune rise from the depths of their domain to speak a few words of encouragement and metaphorically transform lowly pollywogs (sailors yet to cross the Equator) into fully fledged shellbacks (secret members of Atlantis’ society) after the ceremony. Throughout the event, pollywogs are made to face challenges like crossing through murky waters and eating the food of the seas. It’s only a few hours long, but the crossing the line ceremony is one of the most exciting events for younger sailors. Yet, it didn’t use to be quite so innocent, and many of the older sailors used the event as an opportunity to haze the younger sailors back in the older days of the Navy…
Wog Day today is strictly regulated and orderly. Chiefs and officers oversee the event and ensure that the older shellbacks aren’t performing any type of abuse or hazing on the pollywogs. There are clearly written rules on what can be done during the ceremony and what actions are forbidden. A dialogue script to be followed by Davey Jones and King Neptune over the 1MC on the ship during the days prior to the ceremony, and even costumed members who walk around as the characters. Sailors even have the choice of participating, and can potentially sign a contract stating their refusal to participate will not yield any negative repercussions in terms of performance or such. Consequently, it’s lost some of its meaning to sailors who were part of Wog Day during the days where it was unanimously mandatory to participate… along with other things such as the abuse.
It was only a few decades ago that the crossing the line ceremony was rather unregulated and disorganized. Back then the Captain of the ship was solely responsible for what happened during Wog Day and sailors weren’t “obligated” to participate only in a metaphorical sense. Those sailors who refused to participate were seen as a bit of pariah and later had to be responsible for cleaning up the mess left afterward, which was potentially worse than going through and getting it over with. Worse, yet it’s understandable how some might view it as a camaraderie building event, but I would call that a form of Stockholm syndrome. Instead of murky dyed water, it was slop from the galley, instead of being sprayed with salt-water sailors were spanked with wet fire-hoses as they crawled through the dirty berthing and it’s reported that some might have even died after a few ceremonies. But, all of those sailors propagated a circle of abuse which continued for an extended period of time.
Because the sailors were expected to receive the punishment only to be capable of yielding the abuse back whenever a new batch of wogs arrived on the ship, it perpetuated a culture of violence. Thankfully the Navy is no longer about encouraging those types of behaviors. Navy sailors who engage in any sort of dangerous behavior like these are dealt with swiftly and justly. The Line-Crossing Ceremony has simply evolved to follow the new traditions of the Navy, which encourages good order and respect towards others. While some might be disappointed that they’ll never be able to whip another sailor while screaming humiliating phrases in their faces, others are happy to simply engage in a safer, friendlier event which welcomes them into a fraternity in the kingdom of Neptune.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.
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