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Online Library of Selected Images -- Picture Data

Photo #: NH 69571

"Shellback" Certificate

Illustration and headline of a certificate issued to Harry Howard after he crossed the Equator in USS Kansas (Battleship # 21) in January 1908, during the first leg of the "Great White Fleet" World cruise.
Howard provided the following text with this image: "On the eve of January 4, 1908 another importent event occurred which all sailors do not see often. A sort of stillness seemed to have fallen over the sea - not a breath of air was stirring, and the same phosphorescence waters seemed to radiate the heat stored during the day from the sun's rays. Weird it seemed as streaks of light here and there burst from the surface of the water as a porpoise or dolphin darted across the bow of the ship. So quiet and dark as we sped along through the night towards the Equator, as we expected to cross it before morning. Shortly afterwards I received from Neptune Rex, a message which read 'You, Harry Howard, being a landlubber serving on board the USS Kansas and daring to enter our Equatorial Region without due ceremony - you are ordered to appear in person before His Majestic Court of Neptune Rex on January the 5th to explain your conduct and to accept most heartily the penalties of the awful torture that will be inflicted upon you.
(Signed) Neptune Rex, Ruler of the Raging Main.'"

Courtesy of Harry Howard, 1969.

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

Online Image: 188KB; 1200 x 615 pixels
===================================== NOTE:
The actual date of these festivities was 6 January, not 5 January as cited above in Howard's narrative.


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Image posted 27 August 2008
Date correction note added 11 November 2008