Milking the mouse aboard the USS Portland LSD 37

By Charles Berg

milking the mouse 2014-02-05_1323On the USS Portland LSD 37 I was in deck department, a unit aboard the naval ship headed by a chief mate who takes care of administrative tasks such as scheduling work, quality control, coordinating with other departments, and conflict resolution.

I was there to be considered a true salt…for which a person had to have their mouse milked. Apparently, it was a tradition of many years. All members of the deck had to have this done to them. When I came aboard, I got told about it right away… but no one would ever say what it really entailed.

Every once in a while, I would hear something about the mouse milking but I never asked any questions. After two deployments, the ship was headed to the yards. Two years or more had passed and one day I was walking on the flight deck at night. One of the deck guys came strolling up to me and started talking about a cigarette, so I gave him one and we began to chat.

Next thing I know, there was another deck guy, then another and then another until there were about six or seven of them. Then all of a sudden, the one I gave the smoke to smiled broadly and said, “Bet you thought we forgot about your mouse to be milked!”

My first thought was oh sh*t!

They grabbed me, wrestled me down to the deck and proceeded to milk my mouse! They took off my shoe and mangled my toes. The highlight was when one of them used a cloth, wrapped my foot and bit my toes!

Other than a few bruised toes, I managed to survive the mouse milking! From that point onward, I was considered a true salt –an informal term for an experienced sailor.

According to, milking the mouse is accomplished by squeezing a person’s bent pinky finger between your thumb and forefinger. It is first done gently and then the pressure is increased until it starts to hurt and makes the person squeak like a mouse.

I guess these sailors thought it would be much more fun to squish my toes instead!

Who would have figured?

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