By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Damon Grosvenor
Water and the cold are two things that most people don’t like to mix, but in order to become a “Blue Nose” Sailor, it is a requirement.
Sailors are given the chance to enter the “Order of the Blue Nose” when they cross into the Arctic Circle. The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) did just that on Oct. 15, 2019, providing the crew the rare opportunity to participate in a ceremony to become “Blue Nose” Sailors on Oct. 21.
“Cold, fun, and awesome,” said Damage Controlman 1st Class Ethan McGee. “The 'Blue Nose’ ceremony is like the inverse of the Shellback [crossing the equator]. Most of the traditional ceremonies are in hot environments; this one is a lot colder. The ceremony itself is somewhat similar, but it is a lot quicker – otherwise you’ll freeze.”
Navy tradition dictates that when Sailors cross into the Arctic Circle, they enter the realm of Boreas Rex, King of the North. The Sailors must endure various trials before they ask permission from Boreas Rex’s Royal Court to be deemed a “Blue Nose.” The Royal Court consists of three members: Boreas Rex; Aurora, the Queen of the Snows; and Lord Titan, King of the Northern Winds. They were played by Donald Cook’s Command Master Chief Jeremy Douglas, Commanding Officer Cmdr. Kelley T. Jones, and Executive Officer Cmdr. Matt Curnen, respectively.
“It was tremendous to see the entire crew come together to become ‘Blue Noses,’” said Jones. “We only had four on board before we entered the Arctic Circle, so everyone had to go through, including myself, Cmdr. Curnen, and Master Chief Douglas. I don’t think I’ve ever been colder, but that is what the ceremony is all about.”
The four “Blue Noses” were integral in planning and leading the ceremony for their shipmates.
“I was very excited to find out there were only three other ‘Blue Noses’ on the ship,” said Boatswain’s Mate 2nd Class Jorge Barrientos, who was inducted into the Order aboard USS Ross (DDG 71) on a previous deployment. “I was also very excited to run this program. I couldn’t wait to see people overcome adversity and help each other push through to become a ‘Blue Nose.’ My favorite part is coming up to the forecastle together and asking permission to be a ‘Blue Nose.’ It will be forever ingrained in my memory.”
The ceremony is Navy tradition, and to some it means a lot to participate and become part of the exclusive Order.
“It’s one of those Navy traditions that not a lot of people get to do,” said Hospitalman Luke Metcalf. “It’s pretty cool being able to do something that not a lot of people have done.”
After the ceremony, Metcalf and his fellow shipmates are able to call themselves “Blue Noses.”
“I feel great,” said Metcalf. “It was a lot of fun. I got to stand in front of the Royal Court and become a ‘Blue Nose…’ I feel like Tom Brady, because of all this ice in my veins.”
The crew included the ship in the ceremony, painting the bullnose blue in Navy tradition.
“The ship itself is a ‘Blue Nose,’” said Jones. “We will be showing the other destroyers in our squadron what Donald Cook is all about: we have faith without fear, no matter how cold it gets.”
The ship’s presence in the Arctic Circle reinforced the United States’ commitment to regional security and stability, as well as the Navy’s ability to deploy to many different environments on short notice, and the value of having forward-deployed naval forces available to operate in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations.
Donald Cook, forward-deployed to Rota, Spain, is on its ninth patrol in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe.
U.S. 6th Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied, joint, and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.