Piss’n’Punk: The Navy Still Using This Punishment

According to NavyTimes, the skipper of a cruiser recently sentenced several sailors to one of the oldest punishments in Navy history. The more genteel expression is three days in the brig on bread (punk) and water (piss).

The situation probably goes back in history to at least the Revolutionary War. Do you think, in the heat of battle, Captain John Paul Jones ever sentenced any of his able seamen to such demeaning punishment?

As an old World War 2 swabbie, I can remember just one incident related to the honored tradition. My advanced communications unit was assigned to a battalion of Seabees, the Navy’s construction workers. We had followed Army troops invading the island of Leyte in the retaking of the Philippines, and were billeted in tents near the village of Tacloban.

Except for occasional sniper fire, it was a peaceful place. Our bland K-Ration foods were enhanced by locals who sold fresh fruit, poultry and homemade booze. The war was almost over, and the only enemy we faced was the commanding officer of the Seabees. A lieutenant, he was a snotty older guy who had run his own building company as a civilian.

One night he caught one of the Seabees outside his tent after curfew, and sentenced the offender to three days confinement on piss’n’punk. Of course, it was only a matter of a few hours before a lovely Filipina appeared from under the tent flap to pass some delicious local food and drink to the hungry prisoner.

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