Royal Naval Museum





The Tribal Trophy is a lamp, originally acquired by the Petty Officer’s Mess of HMS Ashanti. In 1962, this lamp was stolen by the rival Mess of HMS Gurkha. The lamp then became a treasured possession, and sought after by the other Tribal class frigates; Tartar, Eskimo, Nubian, Mohawk and Zulu.

The Tartar made many unsuccessful attempts to acquire the trophy from the Gurhka, and so in the end the Gurkha took pity on them and presented the trophy to them, however they did list a number of conditions.

The lamp is only to be passed between Petty Officer’s Messes on Tribal class ships. No other class or type of ship is eligible to hold it.

No ship can refuse to receive the trophy.

• The trophy shall not be transferred to the ship from which it came.

Prior warning of the transfer is to be given by a signal sent in verse/rhyme.

•Full Mess participation is essential for a successful transfer.

These conditions remained unchanged until 1980 when the last Tribal class ship, Tartar, was paid off in December of that year. The lamp was then given to the Royal Naval Museum on the condition that it will be given to the next Tribal class ship, when or if they are resurrected in the future.

The Procedure for Transferring the Tribal Trophy

The ship that is transferring the lamp is to proceed to the receiving ship, carrying the lamp. A wax candle will be placed inside and lit before entry to the Mess of the receiving ship is permitted. The lamp is then placed either on or near the refreshment unit (bar). To become the rightful holders of the lamp, the Mess receiving the lamp must supply the Mess that currently holds the lamp with ale, until the candle has naturally expired (not blown out!) When the candle expires all merriment will cease and the transfer deemed complete. Often long burning candles have been used to extend the hours of merriment!

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© Royal Naval Museum Library, 2005

The information contained in this information sheet is correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the library for a bibliography of further reading materials, if available