Firehoses figure prominently in the initiation. When they are not spraying the Pollywogs, they are used to bludgeon them. Over time the hazing has become less intense. Gone are the days of severe beatings and keel hauling (keel hauling was the cause of death for one sailor during WWII - causing one of several clamp downs on the initiation ceremonies), but as late as 1975, bludgeoning was still common.
Kissing the Royal Baby - who is usually the fattest and hairiest Shellback aboard ship. The black stuff on the baby's belly is axel grease.The Royal Doctor administers a concoction of nasty stuff to the Pollywogs. This mixture varies, but some form of hot sauce or mustard is usually included.The Royal Barber cuts Pollywog hair. Style is not his forte.The most gruesome stage is a swim through the garbage. As disgusting as the tank is, it is still a step up from a previous variation where a long line of canvas is sewn into a tube and filled with week old garbarge and, as the Pollywogs crawled through the tube, Shellbacks with various bludgeoning instruments, whack any movement along the tube. The tank, though, is still awful enough. Today, a pool full dye is often used instead of garbage. The tank in the background it is supposed to be for rinsing, though towards the end of the day one can hardly tell the difference.For special punishment: the stocks.The line of Pollywogs head for the tank of garbage- multiple views. The tank is the last stage of the initiation. Once the Pollywog emerges from the first tank, he is asked whether he is a Pollywog or Shellback. If he answers "Shellback" he proceeds to the rinsing tank and then receives his certificate. If he answers "Pollywog" he is sent to the end of the line without rinsing to repeat the plunge.
The USS Midway
The Tip of the Sword: A Brief History of the USS Midway
Gator Control: The VA-115
Aircraft of the USS Midway
On the Deck and In the Air, 1974-77
Pollywog to Shellback: Crossing the Line, 1975
Japan: A Forward-based Homefront
Home: Yokosuka and Nagai
Japan: Kamakura, Fuji and Izu areas
Ports of Call