What shall we do with the drunken sailors

What shall we do with the drunken sailors…

SELECTION/SELECTION

The following tale is from the US National Park Service, as printed in Oceanographic Ships, Fore and Aft, a periodical from the Oceanographer of the US Navy.

On 23 August 1779, the USS Constitution set sail from Boston, loaded with 475 officers and men, 48,600 gallons of water, 74,000 cannon shot, 11,500 pounds of black powder and 79,400 gallons of rum. Her mission: to destroy and harass English shipping.

On 6 October she made Jamaica, took on 826 pounds of flour and 68,300 gallons of rum. Three weeks later Constitution reached the Azores, where she provisioned with 550 pounds of beef and 2,300 gallons of Portuguese wine.

On 18 November she set sail for England where her crew captured and scuttled 12 English merchant vessels and took aboard their rum. By this time she had run out of shot. Nevertheless, she made her way unarmed up the Firth of Clyde for a night raid. Here, her landing party captured a whiskey distillery, transferred 13,000 gallons aboard and headed for home.

On 20 February 1780, the Constitution arrived in Boston with no cannon shot, no food, no powder, no rum and no whisky. She did, however, still carry her entire crew of 475 officers and 18,600 gallons of water.

The maths is quite enlightening…

Length of cruise: 181 days.

Booze consumption: 1.26 gallons per man per day.

This does NOT include the unknown quantity of rum captured from the 12 English merchant vessels in November.

The reference reports that the re-enlistment rate from this cruise was 92%.

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