The Crew of Bulgarian Navy Research Ship Bound for Antarctica Holds Baptism Ritual at Equator

Jan 23 (BTA/GNA) – The crew of the Bulgarian military research vessel Sv. Sv. Kiril i Metodii (NAVAL RSV 421) held a baptism ritual just hours after crossing the equator.

In keeping with old tradition, the sailors welcomed Neptune, the god of the sea, and his noble wife Amphitrite while “rulers” were getting seated on “thrones”. Each crew member had to go through the difficult main part of the baptism in order to receive Neptune’s blessing to continue to travel in his realm.

Each sailor had a “medical checkup” and got a “shave” from a barber before becoming entitled to worm through a lifebelt (an act symbolizing the crossing of the equator) in a strong gush of water, thus earning the privilege to stand in front of the gods. After the trial was passed successfully, Neptune ordered his subjects (dolphins, Nereids, newts) to provide the glorious sailors with assistance whenever necessary.

The ritual evoked a variety of positive emotions in the crew of RSV 421 and bolstered their morale even more on the 27th day of their voyage to Antarctica.

“Our crossing the equator put Bulgaria back on the sea map,” said Nikolay Danailov, the Commanding Officer of the Bulgarian military research vessel Sv. Sv. Kiril i Metodii (NAVAL RSV 421).

RSV 421 crossed the equator at 03:19 hrs ship time (04:19 hrs Eastern European Time) on January 22, thus becoming the first military research vessel in Bulgarian shipping history to sail beyond the zero parallel. It entered the South Atlantic, staying on its south-southwestward course to South America en route to Livingston Island in Antarctica, where it will support the 31st Bulgarian Antarctic Expedition.

Commander Danailov noted that it was not some crew employed by a foreign company that crossed the equator. “It was our national naval flag flying beyond the equator, beyond the visible horizon. In this way, step by step, we are regaining our pride as a seafaring nation,” he said.

He went on to comment: “It does not matter whether I was the first, the second or some later commanding officer of a military research ship to cross the equator. What really matters is that we are performing a national task. As a military man and a Bulgarian naval officer, it is of paramount importance to me that I have a goal set for me by the leadership of our Naval Academy and by the Bulgarian Navy. I just carry on, never looking back.”

“Of course, my inner joy is quite big, but I should not let emotion compromise safety and the important work at hand,” Danailov said.

BTA’s Daily News editor Konstantin Karagyozov is the only member of the media who is travelling on board the ship to Livingston Island and back, and will cover the Bulgarian expedition on site throughout the stay in Antarctica.