Have you heard of a Blue Nose? Chances are, if you or a loved one served in the Navy, you’ve probably heard a variety of nicknames and monikers for sailors who have achieved various geographical milestones during the time they served. It’s not at all uncommon to run across a Shellback, a member of the Order of the Deep, or members of the Order of the Ditch or the Order of Magellan. But it’s less common to run across a Blue Nose.
What is a Blue Nose in the Navy?
A Blue Nose is a sailor who’s crossed into the Arctic Circle by sailing above 66°34′N. Like many other similar naval traditions, there’s a line-crossing ceremony that inducts new sailors into their official status as a Blue Nose.
What does the Blue Nose Ceremony Entail?
If you’re not familiar with U.S. naval ceremonies or traditions, you might want to buckle up. Yes, these are time-honored traditions that many sailors have been honored and thrilled to be a part of, but to the inexperienced, the goings-on at your average naval ceremony may seem a bit eccentric.
The Blue Nose ceremony is a tradition that recognizes that, by crossing the Arctic Circle, the sailors aboard are entering into the realm of the King of the North – Boreas Rex. According to the law of the land, the King of the North offers a list of challenges sailors must complete before being inducted as a Blue Nose. During this process, experienced sailors and already-inducted Blue Noses will dress up in costume as King Neptune, the Roman god of fresh water, and/or Boreas Rex and may even be accompanied by the other members of Neptune’s Royal Court, Aurora, the goddess of dawn, and Lord Titan.
Nowadays, those seeking status as a Blue Nose might expect to have to complete an obstacle course, be sprayed with a fire hose, or crawl through a tunnel filled with bits of fish and other chum – or some combination thereof. Most ceremonies include running around the deck in freezing temperatures only in your skivvies and boots and having a bucket of ice water thrown on you. The ceremonies and challenges depend on the ship and the crew onboard but will almost always feature the candidates being required to paint their noses a bright shade of blue as part of their induction.
Once all is said and done, the sailors are officially welcomed into the court of King Neptune as a Blue Nose and are awarded their official Blue Nose Certificate.
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Is It Easy to Become a Blue Nose?
If you’re a sailor, making it to the Arctic Circle seems like something that might be fairly easy, right?
Not really. Sailing into the Arctic Circle is a struggle in and of itself. Aside from the obvious dangers like icy waters and rough seas, you must also consider that compared to the total number of U.S. Naval ships on the seas, there are just not that many that end up traveling to the Arctic Circle. So how does a sailor increase their chances of becoming a Blue Nose?
As with most things in the military, much of where you go and who you go there with is far out of your control. That said, there are some things you can try to do to increase your chances of being sent to the Arctic Circle.
The biggest thing you can do to become a Blue Nose Polar Bear is to try to get yourself stationed on the East Coast of the United States. Sailors from these bases (e.g., Norfolk) are much more likely to find themselves on a northward course than sailors stationed in, for example, California might be.
Next, you can try to get yourself assigned to the type of ship that often finds its way to the Arctic. These days, that might be an Ohio-class sub embarking on a nuclear patrol. If the drudgery of underwater life isn’t quite your thing, you may be able to make it north of the Arctic Circle via an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, which is often used on cold-weather missions today, or a Ticonderoga-class cruiser, which has steam systems designed to remove ice from the ship and make ice travel easier.
Other than that, the likelihood of you ending up in the Arctic Circle is heavily influenced by your mission and your captain. If traveling that far north doesn’t serve a real purpose, or if your captain already happens to be a Blue Nose, you may find yourself out of luck – at least on that voyage.
Celebrate the Order of the Bluenose
Often called a Navy “brotherhood,” the title of Blue Nose can belong to any man or woman who completes the requirements we’ve mentioned above. If you’re one of the lucky few who have achieved this milestone, or you have a loved one who is a Blue Nose, why not celebrate that achievement with one of our many Blue Nose Patches?
The Navy Blue Nose Polar Bear Hat Patch makes a great addition to any hat patch collection, while the Blue Nose Submarine Arctic Circle Patch, Blue Nose Realm Of The Arctic Circle Patch, and the Blue Nose 66.5 Degrees N. Latitude Patch are perfect for jackets, bags, and more. And, if you or your loved one are also a Shellback, you can add one of our many Shellback patches to your collection as well.
Interested in other Navy Patches? We have hundreds to choose from. Click here to browse our Navy Patches or contact us with questions or custom patch requests.
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