Friday, July 11, 2008

Neptunus Rex

Dear Family & Friends,

We are out of Singapore and headed to East Timor – now called Timor Leste - which, in fact, translates to Timor East. To get here it was necessary to cross the Equator. For those of you who understand a sailor’s life, you know what that means! Yes, friends, it was time again to cleanse the ship of all slimy pollywogs!! For those of you not in the know, to a sailor there are two types of people: those who have been across the Equator aboard a ship – Shellbacks…and those who have not – Pollywogs. When you cross the line the shellbacks all get together and give the pollywogs a little…err…well… I guess you could call it an “initiation.”

King Neptune, Davy Jones, and the royal court arrived on board Wednesday morning. All the slimy and scurvy pollywogs were mustered in Causality Receiving (CASREC) to prepare them for this time-honored ritual. When they got to the flight deck, their challenges awaited them. They must prove themselves worthy to be welcomed into Neptune’s royal domain. This mostly consists of being sprayed with hoses, dunked into tubs of water, and crawling around being forced to answer ridiculous nautical questions. Once these “challenges” were complete, the wogs were presented to good King Neptune (actually, one of the crew dressed up to look like Neptune) and the royal court. There, they were sworn in as faithful and trusty shellbacks.

Of course this was all in fun. When I went through this back at the academy they used to make you crawl across the deck while everyone swatted you on the butt with a chunk of fire hose. Can’t do that kind of stuff anymore. We’re a much kinder and gentler bunch of sailors these days (Kumbaya). Nonetheless, I had the honor of welcoming over 400 new and trusty shellbacks.

More to come…



Marty said...

Ahoy, Cap'n Bob!

I'll be joining the Mercy in Port Moresby with the OpSmile team. For years I've worked with lots of sailors and heard the stories of becoming a Shellback. And I'm old enough to hear of the stories back prior to the kinder & gentler Navy.

My only regret on this trip will be that I didn't cross the equator on the Mercy but up at flight level 390 on an airplane.

See you in August and I wish you smooth seas.

Marty Cacioppo

Pat, Pam, & Sean said...

Hey Capt. Bob
Did King Neptune look a little You?? Please advise.
Your friend,
Pat Yancey

Anonymous said...

Oh how fun it is to live the life of a pirate, I mean sailor! Sounds like you and the crew are having a marvelous time and still keeping the traditions alive! Wishing you all safe and smooth seas, and may God keep you all healthy all days of your lives... Until the next posting, I'm keeping a watchful eye on you from back at Camp P in Virignia Beach. Miss you much, Naomi

Navy Mom said...

Hello Captain Wiley,
my daughter Daniela sent me a very detailed e-mail of the initiation and I was having so much fun reading it, so I can imagine how you shellbacks felt. Thanks for keeping nautical traditions alive and being gentle to the new generation.
As always, wishing you all lots of success completing your work at your new port.

Thanks for keeping us informed,
take care of your crew and yourself,

Renate Di-Do :)

Mr. Gill said...

Greetings Skipper!

On behalf of my family and friends, I just want to thank you for your updates and photos. This one specifically since I am moved to emotion seeing my wife, Commander Rose Tan, experiencing this great right of passage as a Naval Officer. She can't hide behind those Foster Grats! This is our first deployment and the longest separation we have encountered.

Having your blog bookmarked in my browser keeps her close to heart as I wait patiently to get another glimpse of her. Her contact is intermittant and her stories not as detailed, keep up the great work, and keep the stories coming.

Mr. Gill

p.s. When you see my Lil Irish Rose in the pediatric ward, tell her to slow down, take it easy, and don't worry, I am paying the bills.

Tom's Upholstery said...

Congratulations to all the new Mercy shellbacks !
My son is one of your new shellbacks; and he has a good-looking new son, Connor born July 11th waiting for his return.
As a new shellback as well as a new dad (now has two boys) I've nick named him Crush, after a shellback who's also a good dad on the Finding Nemo movie.
We dads of shellbacks sure are way proud of the work you are doing.
Tom Goergen
USAF Veteran
Box Elder, SD

John said...

Captain Bob

I am glad that some of the traditions of the Naval Service are still there. But on the other hand, I think that maybe, just maybe some are so watered down now and take away from the true traditions of Naval Service.

I went over the line in 1981 and YES, I did crawl all over the USS Ranger from my berthing to mess decks, hanger deck, flight deck all the while getting hit on the butt with a piece of fire hose. I made a few more crossing in my career and still have my hose hanging up as a reminder of what it meant to "cross the line".

In the end, it is all in fun and hope that everyone had a good day and a nice BBQ on the flight deck.


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Navy Dad said...

Greetin's Cap'n,

'ave yer Shellbacks come visit the July 15 and 29th posts at t' learn more about sea worthy certificates 'n how t' natter as a pirate.

Navy Dad

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