I once witnessed the changing of command of a navy vessel, in Newport Rhode Island.
It was all by accident, our tug just happened to be tied up next to the ship that was having the changing of command ceremony.
It's a big deal in the Navy. What I saw were tables, covered in white, set up on the stern for the invited guests. A buffet big enough to feed a whole fleet sat at the ready on the port side on silver platters. The gangway was covered by a red carpet, almost like the runway at the Academy Awards.
All the sailors were in dress whites. They looked really cool.
There was a lot of saluting going on for whatever reason.
A 8 piece band played some ceremonial song as the festivities began.
No, I wasn't there, but I saw all this detail as I stood in our wheelhouse looking through a pair of binoculars like a peeping tom outside a city high rise, saying, "ohh, that's cool."
We do it differently in the Merchant Marine. Our name suggests we are part of the military, but that is only the case in time of war, if the country were to need merchant vessels to haul troops of supplies.
Our change of command ceremony is a bit more scaled down.
Chris, a Captain I sailed with on a different boat in Puerto Rico, was filling in on my present boat in the New York area.
It was time for Chris to go home, so we had our change of command.
There are some small differences in the ceremonies.
We don't salute, but we wave and smile.
We didn't have a band. One of our crew members plays the guitar, but it's just not the same.
No red carpet.
We don't have dress whites.
We had no caterer. We did have cold hot dogs and french fries in the galley. Does that count?
We launched our Fast Recovery Boat,to take him ashore. It's really just a big inner tube with a motor on the back.
The red carpet was nowhere to be seen. He just sort of plopped into our dingy.
The sea worthiness of the vessel is questionable, but a few
hours later Chris would be home with his family in Puerto Rico.
I don't think he cared that there wasn't a band.