Sea Term Flashbacks: Return Day (1940s, 1950s, 1960s, & 1970s)


Excitement is in the air when the Academy's training ship returns from her time at sea.  Parents, grandparents, and friends turn out to welcome their cadets back home.

Step into our time machine!  Travel way, way back in time to see what was happening on Return Day 1946, 1953, 1958, 1959, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1973, 1975, and 1976.

photo from 1962 showing parents waiting for ship
life ring that says 1940s

Sea Term 1946

“Someday those of us who have made the sea a career will appreciate those three months as among the best of our lives.”

life ring that says 1950s

Sea Term 1953
“We arrived on the 22nd of April to find many of our folks waiting for us at Commonwealth Pier.

Two days later the Chun returned to Buzzards Gulch, the throbbing engines dead, the rudders were stilled, and once again all reigned quiet and serene on Cape Cod Canal for the Middies were home again.”

Sea Term 1958

“We had hoped for an easy and quick passage home, but once more Cape Hatteras was determined not to let us pass unscathed and threw the roughest water of the trip our way in the form of a left over gale.  The ship bulled her way through…”

“Buzzards Bay never looked so good as we steamed through the canal on our way to Boston.  Pulling into the Boston Army base, a tremendous crowd was on hand to greet the school ship, but with this fizzled welcome it was great to eat a Sunday dinner at home.”

Sea Term 1959

“The Boston Lightship loomed over the horizon in no time at all, and soon we were passing by the Graves, into President Roads, and up into anchorage by Commonwealth Pier.  Since we arrived at night, we dropped the hook and rode at anchor until the next morning.  Line handlers were sent ashore right after breakfast and we were soon maneuvering alongside the pier.

Once secured, the ship was stormed by enthusiastic parents, girlfriends, relatives, and other friends of the bennies.  After a frantic rush to get into dress uniforms, the call for liberty went.

It was all over and we were glad to be home.”

Sea Term 1961

“Destiny, with the help of our unusual speed, played a trick on us and as a result, we spent a couple of days lolling in the sun off of New Bedford.  The big day finally came, and we pulled into the slip at New Bedford and saw all of our parents and friends on the dock. Of course someone had to remark, Gee, aren’t they pale looking!” This ended our second annual training cruise and we went ashore with all of our stories to enchant the people at home.”

Sea Term 1962

“All hands were restlessly awaiting our scheduled arrival – ironically enough on St. Patrick’s Day.  Daily speculation about an early arrival was a pastime for most of us.  It proved to no avail however, as we dropped the hook a bare three hundred yards from the Boston Harbor shore.  In preparation for our leave period, all souvenirs were broken out and packed for our journey home.

The 17th of March dawned clear and cold, but as we put our lines ashore, our spirits were warmed at the sight of those we had left behind three months ago.  The rest is anti-climax: most of us went home and the ship remained in Boston for three days; to be taken back to Buzzards Bay by half the ship’s normal force.”

Sea Term 1963
“By this time we were all looking forward to our return home, but this was delayed a few days due to boiler problems…The Cape Cod Canal never looked so good as we tied up at the State Pier at the Academy, amid the cheers of hundreds of waiting loved ones.”

1970s on life ring

Sea Term 1973

“We traded in our shillings, said good-bye once more, and prepared for the long run home.  The new Bay State ran well the entire cruise and we arrived at our anchorage at the end of the canal right on schedule.  After a six hour delay due to fog, we rammed the ship into her mud bound berth and headed home.”

Sea Term 1973

“Liverpool gave us something we will never forget, a true feeling of being welcome in a foreign port.  As we sailed for home, we all left with fond memories of a beautiful city.  Upon arrival at the entrance to the canal, we all joined the exclusive, “Day In The Bay” club.  Due to heavy fog was changed from 7:00 Am to 4:00 PM.  Although we were late, the crowd hadn’t dwindled, and neither had the excitement of our arrival.  Home Sweet Home!”

Sea Term 1975

“Those of us who had hoped for a smooth passage homeward had their hoped dashed the second night out, as we hit another gale.  After this storm was weathered it was clear sailing back to the Bay and our families.  When we arrived on the 15th of August, the pier was jammed with parents, girlfriends, and siblings all waiting to greet us.”

Sea Term 1976

“Our farewell to Cruxhaven was also our farewell to Europe.  We had a long trip aboard the Bay State ahead of us, but the next stop was home, and that made all the difference.  The fact that we pulled into the wrong side of Commonwealth Pier made no difference; we were back and it felt great, even though we still had to bring the ship back to Buzzards Bay and start orientation and the school year without a break.”