Thursday, March 5, 2020

“Stripe Wetting” – A Navy Tradition

A Naval Custom

A discussion on Social Media on the Army Tradition of “Pipping” Rank Badges of newly promoted Officers prompts me to tell you a bit about the equivalent Navy Custom of “Stripe Wetting”.

“Stripe-Wetting” has its origins in the days when Naval Officers on promotion used to add on the new stripe to the existing old ones.

[In the Navy – your stripes increase with rank – and – with every promotion – you add on a new stripe. A Naval Officer wears his rank stripes on his shoulders  in summer working/formal/ceremonial uniforms and winter working uniform (battle-jacket/pullover) – and on his sleeves – in winter ceremonial/formal uniform]

Navy Officers’ Stripes are of shiny gold lace.

Hence – the new golden stripe would be much more “shiny” and lustrous than the old stripes – and would stand out.  

Thus – the “shiny” new stripe would look garish and incongruous next to the old stripes.

On being promoted – and duly “shipping” his new stripe – the newly promoted officer would hoist a “GinPennant” on his ship.

The Green-and-White “Gin Pennant” is a “celebratory” signal.

Hoisting and Flying the “Gin Pennant” means that the Wardroom of the ship invites officers from other ships for drinks – it is an open invitation for other ships’ officers to come on-board for drinks – normally – it is a PLD (Pre-Lunch Drinks).

(Navy Officers’ Mess in called Wardroom)

The “Gin Pennant” is hoisted for various occasions – including “stripe-wetting” – in which case – the newly promoted officer “hosts” the occasion – and he pays for the drinks of all officers who arrive in response to the “Gin Pennant”.

During the stripe-wetting ceremony to celebrate the promotion – all other officers would rub a few drops of beer on to the new stripe – to dull the shine of the newly added stripe – and – as a gesture of good luck.

The tradition of “stripe-wetting” continues to this day as a gesture of wishing the newly promoted officer good luck.

As it happens in Navy Celebrations – on most occasions – the “stripe-wetting” celebrations get a bit boisterous – and – copious amounts of beer are poured on the stripe and down the officer’s neck – sometimes – drenching him completely.

With exuberant Naval Officers in “high spirits” – and beer flowing freely – there is plenty of rambunctious fun and boisterous revelry – and sometimes – the “stripe-wetting” ceremony continues well past afternoon into the evening.

(Unlike in the Army – where wives participate in the “pipping” ceremony of their husbands – in the Navy – the “stripe-wetting” ceremony of an Officer is attended by Naval Officers only – and Navy Wives do not participate in the “stripe-wetting” celebrations of their Naval Officer Husbands held in Wardrooms of Ships) 

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This post is an elaboration of my blog post on "stripe wetting" posted by me Vikram Karve earlier in my writing blog at url:

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