Navy Shellback: Equator Crossing Ceremony On Ships

Have you ever heard of the Equator crossing ceremony on ships?  It is a custom that is very popular in the Navy as well as commercial or merchant ships. Every mariner at some point of their life has experienced this unique ceremony, normally during the initial phases of their career.

Significance of The Equator

Equator is very important latitude on earth. It divides the earth into the northern and the southern hemisphere. This line is an imaginary line. Crossing the equator is definitely a big occasion for any mariner. This becomes more important especially when the mariner is doing this crossing for the first time.

Every country has a special way of celebrating this. If the mariner is doing this for the first time they will have to shave the head. Then the mariner has to drink and there is party on the board. All the mariners participate in the same. It is considered as a ragging as you normally would understand in a college or university.

Navy Shellback Initiation

Navy Shellback Initiation

All the mariners are aware of this custom when they are on the board. This is a ceremony that you can find in almost all the navies of the world. This custom is popular in both merchant and defense ships. In cruise ships the traditions are not followed considering the fact that there are guests on the ship.

Perhaps it is a way to break out of the monotonous life in sea. It can also be a good way to familiarize the new mariner with the crew. Neptune is the “Lord of the Sea” as per the Greek mythology. The sailors are treated as slaves of the Lord Neptune. They are made to perform all the hilarious tasks that one can imagine.

Entertainment not Torture

The tradition is fun based. It is like a means of entertainment. However, there have been occasions when this ragging session can become a painful experience. Many mariners have complained of the humiliation and torture that they have undergone in the name of Equator crossing ceremony on ships. These stories often spoil the spirit of this sport. However, in spite of all the negative feedback the custom is a popular one and is still followed in almost all the navies of the world.

In some ships the mariners are made to dance. Eggs are broken on their heads. They are made to wear funny clothes and act historic roles. As long as all are enjoying it is fun. Excessive drinking during the Equator crossing ceremony on ships has led to unpleasant situations too. The captain is responsible in such a case to maintain the decorum of the ship.


Female Sailors

The ceremony is common for men and women. However, with women the treatment is not as harsh as with the men. The new mariners have to oblige as they are new and they cannot do much with all experienced sailors around them. In some ships the mariners are given Equator crossing ceremony certificates. This is to ensure that they don’t have to do these all over again.

In some navies mud and garbage is thrown on the mariners. The ones who take it sportingly survive. The ones who get angry might have to face more torture. All mariners are mentally and physically prepared for the Equator crossing ceremony on ships. They kind of have an idea what they are going to experience. This really helps them. The Equator crossing ceremony on ships does ensure that the mariner remember this day for the rest of their lives. In some ships these mariners are blindfolded and they are made to do the tasks that we have already mentioned.

Schools of Thought

It has been a debatable topic that whether this tradition should be followed or discontinued. Well there is difference of opinion. Some feel that it is not required. The mariners are harassed unnecessarily. On the other hand some believe that the tradition is very important for the crew to gel with the new mariners. It is a good party time and gives some lovely memories to cherish. The only point is that the celebrations should be in limits.

The concept is old and has been followed for generations. Equator crossing ceremony on ships is a very popular ceremony that many mariners have experienced. It is still followed all across the globe. The tradition is fun ceremony. The mariners should take it up sportingly. We hope that the spirit of this tradition stays alive for many more centuries to come.

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