Shellback Subpoena


Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

The aircraft carrier Intrepid crossed the equator a number of times during its 31-year career in the U.S. Navy. The crew marked the occasion with the traditional “Crossing the Line” initiation ceremony. In what amounted to a hazing, the “shellbacks,” sailors who had already crossed the equator, tested the mettle of the “pollywogs,” the uninitiated. The pollywogs ran a gauntlet of paddle-wielding sailors and were doused with a hose, among other trials. At the end of the ceremony, all members of the crew became trusty shellbacks and received certificates and identification cards confirming their new status.

Once a ship crossed the equator, all pollywogs received a summons to appear before the High Court of the Raging Main. In this subpoena, crew member Michael Powers was accused of “crimes” including inciting and taking an active part in a pollywog revolt.

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  • Title: Shellback Subpoena
  • Date Created: 1968-06-18
  • Historic Owner: Michael Powers
  • Credit Line: Collection of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. A2014.60