'Spike' and the 'Gator Navy'
The story of 'Spike' is an interesting and quite humorous one. 'Spike' was born out of 'Operation Steel Pike I' as a living symbol of the Amphibious Fleet that was commonly referred to as the 'Gator Navy'.
'Spike' was presented as a mascot to ComPhibLant, namely, Vice Admiral John S. McCain Jr. The rumor was that it was a practical joke on the Admiral McCain to present him with 'Spike', a 2 foot Alligator, complete with a spike collar and leash.
If it was a practical joke it backfired somewhat because Special Sea Detail assignments were made to feed and walk 'Spike' around the Flag Bridge of the USS Pocono AGC-16 while underway on 'Operation Steel Pike I'
Spike's berthing assignment and presence aboard was kept on a strict 'need to know' basis and confined to a small circle of the concerned caretakers who were members of the 'Spike Special Sea Detail'. A few messengers who had to deliver radio messages to the upper decks sometimes, quite by accident, became acquainted with 'Spike'. Spike's handling safety record was perfect, which to date has not been disputed.
Upon returning to Norfolk from 'Operation Steel Pike I' all record and traces of 'Spike' disappeared. Only the memory remains. There have been rumors of occasional sightings of 'Spike' making amphibious landings on the sandy beaches of the Okefenokee Swamp. The photo below is believed to be 'Spike' but this has not been confirmed.
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