First Crossing the Line ceremony on HMS Queen Elizabeth during CSG21 121021 CREDIT HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH, TWITTER
The 'Crossing the Line' ceremony is a naval tradition dating back centuries and has been held on HMS Queen Elizabeth for the first time (Picture: HMS Queen Elizabeth/Twitter).
QE-class aircraft carriers

'Welcome to Neptune's Kingdom': HMS Queen Elizabeth marks first equator crossing

The traditional 'Crossing the Line' ceremony is a rite of passage that has evolved over four centuries and is still performed today.

First Crossing the Line ceremony on HMS Queen Elizabeth during CSG21 121021 CREDIT HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH, TWITTER
The 'Crossing the Line' ceremony is a naval tradition dating back centuries and has been held on HMS Queen Elizabeth for the first time (Picture: HMS Queen Elizabeth/Twitter).

Aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth has sailed in the southern hemisphere for the first time, marking passing the equator with a traditional 'Crossing the Line' ceremony.

The ceremony is one of the oldest traditions in the Royal Navy and dictates that any ship crossing the equator must pay its respects to the Lord of the Seas, King Neptune, to gain his acceptance.

It involves sailors being tested to ensure they are capable of 'handling rough seas' and, as per tradition, can see them being painted, fed a less than appetising snack and being dunked.

All those who had never previously 'crossed the line', and a few extras, are 'charged for their crimes' and get the justice they deserve in a somewhat comical fashion. 

This rich tradition of the Crossing the Line ceremonies often involve varied events to test a seafarer who has not crossed the equator – turning them into a trusty 'Shellback' after proving themselves in front of King Neptune.

The Royal Navy flagship shared pictures on her official Twitter account of the ceremony, including 'King Neptune' himself, a sailor being dunked in a pool and other personnel in costume.

The ship's tweet said "nearly 1,000 sailors were welcomed into Neptune's Kingdom" during the ceremony, which was the first held on board the £3.3bn vessel.

HMS Queen Elizabeth's arrival in the southern hemisphere means the ship has now operated on both sides of the equator.

The ship is currently leading the UK's Carrier Strike Group 21 (CGS21) deployment which has been operating in the Indo-Pacific in recent weeks.

On Monday, HMS Queen Elizabeth docked in Singapore – just north of the equator – for a "short logistics visit".

Queen Elizabeth is not the only ship from CSG21 to have marked passing the equator.

Tanker RFA Tidespring also marked entering the southern hemisphere but with no King Neptune or Crossing the Line ceremony.

Instead, the ship's crew raised a toast and the ship's chaplain stood at the helm.

Last month HMS Diamond 'crossed the line' with a full ceremony in the presence of 'King Neptune'.

The Carrier Strike Group is now in the second half of its maiden deployment and is due to undergo engagements with India and Oman.