Fun fact: The NZ Navy was the last Navy to stop the rum ration

The New Zealand Navy was the last Navy in the world to stop the rum ration, on the 28th February 1990.

Other navies in the world removed the rum rations a bit earlier:

  • The United States Navy was the first to abolish the rum ration, removing it in 1862.
  • While the Royal Australian Navy never issued the rum ration, their sailors were entitled to the rum ration when they were on Royal Navy ships until 1921.
  • The Roya lBritish Navy abolished the rum ration in 1970
  • The Royal Canadian Navy abolished the rum ration in 1972.

As soon as Royal Naval ships and sailors arrived in New Zealand the rum ration was issued daily. Rum was issued to sailors over the age of 20. Taking a tot of rum was not compulsory. Sailors who did not wish to take up their rum issue could receive an allowance in lieu. Junior ratings (Ordinary Rates, Able Rates and Leading Hands) were required to drink their rum issue on the spot in front of the Officer of the Day and duty Petty Officer between the hours of 1150 to 1210 daily.

Senior rates were allowed to take their rum issue back to their mess. Junior Ratings never received neat rum officially. It was always mixed with water on the basis of one part rum to one part water in the RNZN. Rum had alcoholic percentage of 98% or 148 over-proof.

The Rum issue ceased in the RNZN in 1990 while and the official reason was that sailors were operating complex equipment and so they shouldn’t be drinking rum.