Jan 9

An Old Naval Tradition – First Watch

Thursday, January 9, 2020 10:22 AM

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PACIFIC OCEAN (Jan. 1, 2012) Lt. j.g. Jason Crile writes a New Year’s Day poem in the ship’s log book at the stroke of midnight on the bridge of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72). (U.S. Navy photo Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Karolina A. Martinez/Released)

January has rolled around again. No one knows how the tradition of writing the log in rhyme on the New Year’s midwatch began, or when it began. Perhaps the OOD was simply entertaining himself while the rest of the crew was out celebrating. According to Naval Ceremonies, Customs, and Traditions by Royal W. Connell and William P. Mack:

“Regardless of rhyme, Navy Regulations and OpNav Instructions require that certain information be reported. Those requirements, plus the awkward names of some of the ships present, the lack of euphony in many nautical expressions, and the need to comply with “the poetic form” pose challenging problems in the choice of words for the officer of the deck – the poet of the day-”

 

They go on to offer a few examples of the creative and often humorous log entries. Here’s one by LTJG Elliott K. DeMatta from the USS Dale (DLG -19) log.

USS Dale ‘first watch’ in rhyme.

 

For more on this amusing tradition, the Naval Institute Proceedings published an excellent article written by Captain Robert W. McNitt in January, 1959 titled The First Watch. Naval Institute members can find it here.

Happy New Year!