Navy Sailors kneeling before "Posiden" to become a “Blue Nose”Of all the branches of service, the Navy has the strangest customs. Naval History and Cherished Command describes them as, “cherished rites that tie together generations of Sailors with a common bond. They reflect the true story of the Navy, and honor a shared legacy of pride, history, and heritage.”

These unofficial certificates document where a Sailor has been, what they have done, and what they are.

Many certificates have to do with line-crossings at sea. Sailors crossing into the Antarctic Circle are said to have entered the Domain of the Emperor Penguin. It’s at this point he/she becomes a “Royal Stiff.” Alternatively, if a Sailor crosses the Arctic Circle, they become a “Blue Nose.”

Imperial Domain of Golden Dragon card given to Navy sailorCrossing the International Date Line from east or west into the Domain of the Golden Dragon earns you the title of “Golden Dragon.”

Should a Sailor make use of the Panama Canal they become a member of the “Order of the Ditch.” And if the ship sails south around Cape Horn, Chile, he/she becomes a “Mossback.”

If you’re like me and you’ve never crossed the Equator, you are considered a “Pollywog.” Once traversed, you are dubbed a “Shellback” in a ceremony many Navy veterans are too embarrassed to describe.

Vintage photo of Navy sailors dressing as kings

Some are easier to obtain; a Sailor is a member of the “Goldfish Club” when they have spent time in a life raft. If they’re in the raft for more than 24 hours, they become a “Sea Squatter.”

Others are quite difficult, such as joining the “Order of the Caterpillar,” which VBC detailed in a recent blog.

Whether you’re a Pollywog or a Centurion, join us this week for part two of our six-part series focusing on the military branches. Up next, you guessed it, the Navy! This and our weekly Mail Call, Phrase of the Week, headlines from around the military, and a Scuttlebutt you won’t want to miss.

Watch this week’s episode on YouTube: 

Link to VBC Live with Kim Mitchell:

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