July 31 st 1970 ended a tradition that had last over 300 years. The issue of a tot of rum was a daily ration to the all serving members once having reached the age of twenty. The familiar sound each day around noon was Up Spirits , it was piped over the tannoy (sound system) and the lads gathered for their tots. Rum was first used in the Royal Navy in 1655 but did not become a standard until 1731. The tradition followed into the Royal Australian Navy, Royal New Zealand Navy and the Royal Canadian Navy, the latter saw its last tot on 30th March 1972. While it was probably a necessity in the old ships of canvas and cannon, rotten food and dreadful living conditions I believe it has long since outlived its usefulness. Of course, back on the last day of the rum issue I would have been very much against it! My excuse was my youth and lack of common sense in those long ago times. Seriously, rum was a risk aboard modern highly advanced ships and submarines of the new navy. Imagine a drunk driving a nuclear submarine, a little more dangerous than perhaps driving a car. Rum caused the demotion of so many sailors through my time in the Navy, it was commonly known as the loss of buttons and badges. On the day the rum stopped I believe the Admiralty missed an opportunity to have all vessels go dry. Beer is still available to the crews and in the officers wardroom a variety of spirits and wines is still served. Modern warships and alcohol surely do not mix. I’m older and hopefully wiser now and I see the problems with the consumption of alcohol whilst on duty aboard ship. At sea the whole crew must be available at a moments notice, no time to finish off a beer then amble to ones duty station. Black Tot Day, maybe not such a black day after all.
God Bless and keep reading