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King Neptune Cleanses Wasp Sailors
by U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jessica Bidwell
February 27, 2018

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Nearly 900 Sailors aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1) were "cleansed of their slime" on November 25, 2017 after participating in the age old ceremony of crossing the equator or "line".

The crossing the line ceremony (pollywog revolt) is an exclusive maritime experience hailing from the days of hardened Sailors aboard wooden ships courageously venturing out into the unforgiving environment of the open ocean, and is a equatorial pastime that will continue to be passed down for generations to come.

November 25, 2017 - Sailors participate in a crossing the line ceremony (polliwog revolt) aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1). The crossing the line ceremony is a naval tradition which recognizes when members of the crew cross the equator for the first time. Wasp is transiting to Sasebo, Japan to conduct a turnover with the USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) as the forward-deployed flag ship of the amphibious forces in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jessica Bidwell)
November 25, 2017 - Sailors participate in a crossing the line ceremony (pollywog revolt) aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1). The crossing the line ceremony is a naval tradition which recognizes when members of the crew cross the equator for the first time. Wasp is transiting to Sasebo, Japan to conduct a turnover with the USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) as the forward-deployed flag ship of the amphibious forces in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jessica Bidwell)

As the ship approaches the line King Neptune, a mythical god of the sea, detects an infestation of Pollywogs, the term given to those who have not crossed the equator before, and deems it necessary to take control of the ship to rid it of this plagued condition. King Neptune is represented by the most senior Shellback, or Sailor who has previously crossed the line, aboard, usually a senior officer or chief petty officer who became a Shellback decades earlier.

Master Chief Aircraft Maintenanceman Thomas Kreindheder, Wasp’s selected King Neptune for the ceremony, earned the title of Shellback in 1993.

"The ceremony has changed a lot since I went through," said Kreindheder. "Our ceremony lasted 48 hours and it was more of an initiation than a camaraderie event. Our goal with this ceremony was to make sure the Sailors were challenged both mentally and physically but were also smiling and laughing the whole way through. The photos of the event prove that we accomplished that goal."

November 25, 2017 - Sailors participate in a crossing the line ceremony (polliwog revolt) aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1). The crossing the line ceremony is a naval tradition which recognizes when members of the crew cross the equator for the first time. Wasp is transiting to Sasebo, Japan to conduct a turnover with the USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) as the forward-deployed flag ship of the amphibious forces in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Sean Galbreath)
November 25, 2017 - Sailors participate in a crossing the line ceremony (pollywog revolt) aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1). The crossing the line ceremony is a naval tradition which recognizes when members of the crew cross the equator for the first time. Wasp is transiting to Sasebo, Japan to conduct a turnover with the USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) as the forward-deployed flag ship of the amphibious forces in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Sean Galbreath)

Pollywogs aboard Wasp were guided through a series of obstacles, both physically and mentally challenging, which were led by the 137 Shellbacks aboard. Upon completion each Pollywog was summoned by King Neptune and his royal court and relieved of their slime, successfully completing their journey from Pollywog to Shellback.

"It was a cool experience," said Aerographer’s Mate Airman Apprentice Skyler Senteno. "I was skeptical at first but there were a lot more events than I thought and I really enjoyed it; it was an honor to be part of the tradition and become a Shellback."

The time honored tradition of the Crossing the Line ceremony heralds from a time when such a feat was a grave undertaking. While with the technology of today Sailors are more at ease with their sea travels, the time away from family, especially around the holidays, can take its toll.

November 25, 2017 - New "shellbacks" aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1) "cleanse" themselves to finalize their transformation from "pollywogs" to shellbacks during a crossing the line ceremony. The crossing the line ceremony (polliwog revolt) is a naval tradition which recognizes when members of the crew cross the equator for the first time. Wasp is transiting to Sasebo, Japan to conduct a turnover with the USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) as the forward-deployed flagship of the amphibious forces in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Levingston Lewis)
November 25, 2017 - New "shellbacks" aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1) "cleanse" themselves to finalize their transformation from "pollywogs" to shellbacks during a crossing the line ceremony. The crossing the line ceremony (pollywog revolt) is a naval tradition which recognizes when members of the crew cross the equator for the first time. Wasp is transiting to Sasebo, Japan to conduct a turnover with the USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) as the forward-deployed flagship of the amphibious forces in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Levingston Lewis)

"Ceremonies like Crossing the Line are invaluable for the crew. They instill pride and a sense of accomplishment that links Sailor to those that have gone before us," said Command Master Chief Greg Carlson. "The ceremony has evolved to over the years to one of teamwork and unity which allows Sailors to craft memories that they will cherish forever."

Wasp is transiting to Sasebo, Japan, to conduct a turnover with the USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) as the forward-deployed flagship of the amphibious forces in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations.

By U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jessica Bidwell
Provided through DVIDS
Copyright 2018

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