USS GARY, At Sea -- Seventy Sailors aboard the Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate USS Gary (FFG-51) went from being a pollywog to becoming a shellback during a ceremony aboard the ship Dec. 28, while deployed to U.S. 4th Fleet conducting Operation Martillo.
The Navy traditionally conducts the ceremony after a ship crosses the equator, a tradition dating back to the Middle Ages.
King Neptune, the mythical god of the sea, detects an infestation of 'pollywogs' 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" aboard.
"It's been ten years since I've been through a crossing the line ceremony and it seemed like I never left; it was fun cleansing all those 'filthy' wogs so they could enter my realm," Master-at-Arms 1st Class Brian Barclay, who played the role as King Neptune said.
The ceremony was an opportunity for Sailors to relax their uniforms, and have fun. The day consisted of obstacle courses, singing, and other games.
"It was a fun event and I am happy that I had the chance to take part in a naval tradition that has been going on for centuries," Operation Specialist 3rd Class Adam Engbrecht said.
Following the ceremony, Gary held a steel beach picnic hosted by the ship's Morale, Welfare and Recreation where Sailors had the opportunity to enjoy barbecue and take a break from the high tempo of their deployment.
Gary is homeported in San Diego, and is currently deployed in support of Operation Martillo, under operational control to U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and C4F (COMUSNAVSO/C4F) while conducting Countering ?Transnational Organized Crime (CTOC) operations in support of Joint Interagency Task Force - South, U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM), and U.S. Coast Guard District 7.
Operation Martillo (Spanish for 'hammer') is a U.S., European, and Western Hemisphere partner nation effort targeting illicit trafficking routes in coastal waters along the Central American isthmus. U.S. military participation is being led by Joint Interagency Task Force-South, a component of USSOUTHCOM. Operation Martillo is a component of the U.S. government's coordinated interagency regional security strategy in support of the White House strategy to combat transnational organized crime and the U.S. Central America Regional Security Initiative.
U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet (COMUSNAVSO/C4F) supports USSOUTHCOM joint and combined full-spectrum military operations by providing principally sea-based, forward presence to ensure freedom of maneuver in the maritime domain, to foster and sustain cooperative relationships with international partners and to fully exploit the sea as maneuver space in order to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability, and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central and South American regions.