Mariners once believed that anyone aboard who trimmed their nails, cut their hair, or shaved their beard brought bad luck to the ship. Sounds like they might have just wanted to ignore good grooming habits while at sea, doesn’t it?
Most people, if not all, toss nail trimmings and hair in the trash. Romans believed that nail and hair cuttings should be offerings to Proserpina, the Roman Goddess Of The Underworld. Not really the type of gift you’d like to receive, is it? Mariners thought that Neptune, the God Of The Sea, would be angry if offerings meant for Proserpina were made in his domain. The results would be stormy seas.
It’s safe to say that Captain Campbell and his cadets ignore this superstition. Whether on campus at Massachusetts Maritime Academy or aboard the TS Kennedy, cadets adhere to strict guidelines when it comes to their hair. According to Chapter Five in the Regimental Manuel, “Hair shall be kept tapered, neat, clean, well groomed, and shall not touch the ears and collar.”
On the TS Kennedy, the Barber Shop is located on the starboard side of the Main Deck, midway between the Quarterdeck and the Library. It is open each day that the ship is at sea. The barber is kept very busy.
The acceptable length of a male cadet’s hair depends on their rank. The manual states that, “First Class and Second Class Cadet’s hair shall be evenly graduated to a length not exceeding one inch on top. Third Class Cadet’s hair shall be evenly graduated to a length not exceeding one half inch on top. Fourth Class Cadet’s hair shall be evenly graduated to a length not exceeding one eighth inch on top.”
It is not just the length of hair that is mandated, “Sideburns shall not extend below a line parallel to the ground even with the highest part of the tragus. The vertical side will be straight with no flare. First Class Cadets may wear mustaches. The ends may not fall beyond the corners of the mouth nor below the top lip. Handlebar mustaches and beards are prohibited.”
In spite of all of the cutting and trimming that takes place on the TS Kennedy, sunny days outnumber stormy ones. Massachusetts Maritime Academy cadets choose a neat appearance over following ancient superstitions.