History of the Drunken Sailor Sea Shanty



There’s something about crusing the open seas that comes with the stereotype of being a rum-soaked scalawag.

Some of the widespread sea shanties of all time is that which we’ve come to know as “What Shall We Do with the Drunken Sailor?”

The unique music reportedly comes from an Irish tune known as ‘Oró Sé do Bheatha ‘Bhaile,’ which suggests “Óró, you might be welcome house.”

The tune’s lore dates again to the early 1800s, however references are scant. Its refrain, nevertheless, is referenced in some whaling ship information out of New London, Connecticut, in 1839, in keeping with Monetary Occasions.

It’s straightforward to know why seafarers are so usually related to extreme spirit consumption. Earlier than filtration and modern-day water storage aboard ships, it was a lot simpler to maintain alcohol as the principle supply of potable liquid.

The U.S. Navy certainly had a protracted historical past with drink on its vessels earlier than its prohibition over 100 years in the past.

On March 27, 1794, Congress enacted a each day drink ration, which included “one half-pint of distilled spirits” or “one quart of beer.”

After that, limits on alcohol elevated till lastly the U.S. Navy banned it on July 1, 1914, below Normal Order 99. The regulation said, “The use or introduction for consuming functions of alcoholic liquors on board any naval vessel, or inside any navy yard or station, is strictly prohibited, and commanding officers will probably be held straight accountable for the enforcement of this order.”

Nevertheless, American sailors have had dalliances with drunkenness since — usually at port.

For instance, U.S. sailors stationed in Japan had been additionally banned from consuming within the nation, on- or off-base, after a sailor was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving on the island of Okinawa in 2016. Restrictions had been eased shortly after, limiting consuming to on-base solely.

In Iceland in 2018, a pair thousand U.S. sailors and Marines drank the complete beer provide of the capital metropolis of Reykjavík whereas stationed there on a NATO mission.

So what do you do with a drunken sailor?

In line with the tune, there are a number of issues you are able to do with a drunken sailor: Shave his stomach with a rusty razor, put him in a protracted boat ‘til he’s sober, stick him within the scupper with a hosepipe on him, or put him within the mattress with the captain’s daughter.

Whether or not or not the U.S. Navy has each utilized any of those strategies of punishment is just not recognized. Nevertheless, any captain who discovered a drunken sailor in mattress along with his daughter is prone to flip to the bottle himself.


Initially revealed on Navy Occasions, our sister publication.

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