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Ceremonial ship launching involves the performance of ceremonies associated with the process of transferring a vessel to the water. It is a nautical tradition in many cultures, dating back thousands of years, to accompany the physical process with ceremonies which have been observed as public celebration and a solemn blessing, usually but not always, in association with the launch itself. Ship launching imposes stresses on the ship not met during normal operation and, in addition to the size and weight of the vessel, represents a considerable engineering challenge as well as a public spectacle. The process also involves many traditions intended to invite good luck, such as christening by breaking a sacrificial bottle of
champagne Champagne (, ) is a sparkling wine Sparkling wine is a wine Wine is an alcoholic drink typically made from fermented grape juice. Yeast Yeasts are eukaryotic, single-celled microorganisms classified as members of the fungus ...

champagne
over the
bow Bow often refers to: * Bow and arrow The bow and arrow is a ranged weapon A ranged weapon is any weapon A weapon, arm or armament is any implement or device that can be used with the intent to inflict physical damage or harm. Weapons ar ...
as the ship is named aloud and launched.


Methods

There are three principal methods of conveying a new ship from building site to water, only two of which are called "launching". The oldest, most familiar, and most widely used is the end-on launch, in which the vessel slides down an inclined
slipway A slipway, also known as boat ramp or launch or boat deployer, is a Inclined plane, ramp on the shore by which ships or boats can be moved to and from the water. They are used for building and repairing ships and boats, and for launching and r ...

slipway
, usually
stern The stern is the back or aft Aft :''For the acronym, see AFT (disambiguation).'' Aft, in naval A navy, naval force, or maritime force is the branch of a Nation's armed forces A military, also known collectively as armed forces, ...

stern
first. With the side launch, the ship enters the water broadside. This method came into use in the 19th century on inland waters, rivers, and lakes, and was more widely adopted during World War II. The third method is
float-out Float-out is the process in shipbuilding Shipbuilding is the construction Construction is a general term meaning the and to form , , or ,"Construction" def. 1.a. 1.b. and 1.c. ''Oxford English Dictionary'' Second Edition on CD-RO ...
, used for ships that are built in basins or
dry dock A dry dock (sometimes drydock or dry-dock) is a narrow basin or vessel that can be flooded to allow a load to be floated in, then drained to allow that load to come to rest on a dry platform. Dry docks are used for the construction, maintenance, ...
s and then floated by admitting water into the dock. If launched in a restrictive waterway, drag chains are used to slow the ship speed to prevent it striking the opposite bank.


Stern-first

Normally, are arranged perpendicular to the shore line (or as nearly so as the water and maximum length of vessel allows) and the ship is built with its
stern The stern is the back or aft Aft :''For the acronym, see AFT (disambiguation).'' Aft, in naval A navy, naval force, or maritime force is the branch of a Nation's armed forces A military, also known collectively as armed forces, ...

stern
facing the water. Where the launch takes place into a narrow river, the building slips may be at a shallow angle rather than perpendicular, even though this requires a longer slipway when launching. Modern slipways take the form of a reinforced concrete mat of sufficient strength to support the vessel, with two "barricades" that extend well below the water level taking into account variations. The barricades support the two launch ways. The vessel is built upon temporary cribbing that is arranged to give access to the hull's outer bottom and to allow the launchways to be erected under the complete hull. When it is time to prepare for launching, a pair of standing ways is erected under the hull and out onto the barricades. The surface of the ways is greased. (
Tallow Tallow is a rendering (industrial), rendered form of beef or mutton fat, primarily made up of triglycerides. In industry, tallow is not strictly defined as beef or mutton fat. In this context, tallow is animal fat that conforms to certain techni ...

Tallow
and
whale oil Whale oil is oil An oil is any nonpolar chemical substance A chemical substance is a form of matter In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has mass and takes up space by having volume. All ev ...
were used as grease in sailing ship days.) A pair of sliding ways is placed on top, under the hull, and a launch cradle with bow and stern poppets is erected on these sliding ways. The weight of the hull is then transferred from the build cribbing onto the launch cradle. Provision is made to hold the vessel in place and then release it at the appropriate moment in the launching ceremony; common mechanisms include weak links designed to be cut at a signal and mechanical triggers controlled by a switch from the ceremonial platform. On launching, the vessel slides backwards down the slipway on the ways until it floats by itself.


Sideways

Some slipways are built so that the vessel is side-on to the water and is launched sideways. This is done where the limitations of the water channel would not allow lengthwise launching, but occupies a much greater length of shore. '' The Great Eastern'' designed by
Brunel Isambard Kingdom Brunel (; 9 April 1806 – 15 September 1859) was an English civil engineer A civil engineer is a person who practices civil engineering Civil engineering is a Regulation and licensure in engineering, professional ...
was built this way, as were many
landing craft Landing craft are small and medium seagoing watercraft, such as boats and barges, used to convey a landing force (infantry and vehicles) from the sea to the shore during an Amphibious warfare, amphibious assault. The term excludes landing ships, wh ...

landing craft
during
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
. This method requires many more sets of ways to support the weight of the ship.


Air-bag

Sometimes ships are launched using a series of inflated tubes underneath the hull, which deflate to cause a downward slope into the water. This procedure has the advantages of requiring less permanent infrastructure, risk, and cost. The airbags provide support to the hull of the ship and aid its launching motion into the water, thus this method is arguably safer than other options such as sideways launching. These airbags are usually cylindrical in shape with hemispherical heads at both ends. The Xiao Qinghe shipyard launched a tank barge with marine airbags on January 20, 1981, the first known use of marine airbags.


History


Ancient

A
Babylon ''Bābili(m)'' * sux, 𒆍𒀭𒊏𒆠 * arc, 𐡁𐡁𐡋 ''Babil'' * grc-gre, Βαβυλών ''Babylṓn'' * he, בָּבֶל ''Bavel'' * peo, 𐎲𐎠𐎲𐎡𐎽𐎢 ''Bābiru'' * elx, 𒀸𒁀𒉿𒇷 ''Babili'' *Kassite The Kassites ...

Babylon
ian narrative dating from the 3rd millennium BC describes the completion of a ship:
Openings to the water I stopped;
I searched for cracks and the wanting parts I fixed:
Three ''sari'' of bitumen I poured over the outside;
To the gods I caused oxen to be sacrificed.
Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans called on their gods to protect seamen. Favor was evoked from the monarch of the seas—
Poseidon Poseidon (; grc-gre, Ποσειδῶν, ) was one of the Twelve Olympians upright=1.8, Fragment of a relief Relief is a sculptural technique where the sculpted elements remain attached to a solid background of the same material. The ...

Poseidon
in
Greek mythology Greek mythology is the body of myth Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the tradition A tradition is a belief A belief is an Attitude (psyc ...
,
Neptune Neptune is the eighth and farthest-known Solar planet from the Sun. In the Solar System, it is the fourth-largest planet by diameter, the third-most-massive planet, and the densest giant planet. It is 17 times the mass of Earth, slightly mo ...
in
Roman mythology Roman mythology is the body of myths of ancient Rome as represented in the Latin literature, literature and Roman art, visual arts of the Romans. One of a wide variety of genres of Roman folklore, ''Roman mythology'' may also refer to the moder ...
. Ship launching participants in ancient Greece wreathed their heads with olive branches, drank wine to honor the gods, and poured water on the new vessel as a symbol of blessing. Shrines were carried on board Greek and Roman ships, and this practice extended into the Middle Ages. The shrine was usually placed at the
quarterdeck The quarterdeck is a raised deck behind the main mast of a sailing ship. Traditionally it was where the captain commanded his vessel and where the ship's Colours, standards and guidons, colours were kept. This led to its use as the main cere ...
, an area which continues to have special ceremonial significance. Different peoples and cultures shaped the religious ceremonies surrounding a ship launching.
Jew Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2 ISO The International Organization for Standardization (ISO ) is an international standard An international standard is a technical standard A technical standard is an established norm (social), ...

Jew
s and
Christians Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic, Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Teachings of Jesus, teachings of ...

Christians
customarily used wine and water as they called upon God to safeguard them at sea. Intercession of the saints and the blessing of the church were asked by Christians. Ship launchings in the
Ottoman Empire The Ottoman Empire (; ', ; or '; )info page on bookat Martin Luther University) // CITED: p. 36 (PDF p. 38/338). was an empire that controlled much of Southeastern Europe, Western Asia, and North Africa, Northern Africa between the 14th ...
were accompanied by prayers to
Allah Allah (; ar, الله, translit=Allāh, ) is the Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East ...

Allah
, the sacrifice of sheep, and appropriate feasting. Chaplain Henry Teonge of Britain's
Royal Navy The Royal Navy (RN) is the United Kingdom's naval warfare Naval warfare is combat Combat ( French for ''fight'') is a purposeful violent conflict meant to physically harm or kill the opposition. Combat may be armed (using weapon A ...
left an interesting account of a warship launch, a "briganteen of 23 oars," by the
Knights of Malta The Sovereign Military Order of Malta (SMOM), officially the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta ( it, Sovrano Militare Ordine Ospedaliero di San Giovanni di Gerusalemme di Rodi e di Malta; l ...

Knights of Malta
in 1675:
Two fryers and an attendant went into the vessel, and kneeling down prayed halfe an houre, and layd their hands on every mast, and other places of the vessel, and sprinkled her all over with holy water. Then they came out and hoysted a pendent to signify she was a man of war; then at once thrust her into the water.


Early Modern Age

The liturgical aspects of ship christenings, or baptisms, continued in
Catholic The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptised Baptism (from the Greek language, Greek noun βάπτισμα ''báptisma'') is a Christians, Christian ...

Catholic
countries, while the
Reformation The Reformation (alternatively named the Protestant Reformation or the European Reformation) was a major movement within Western Christianity in Vatican City Vatican City (), officially the Vatican City State ( it, Stato della Cit ...
seems to have put a stop to them for a time in
Protestant Protestantism is a form of that originated with the 16th-century , a movement against what its followers perceived to be in the . Protestants originating in the Reformation reject the Roman Catholic doctrine of , but disagree among themselves ...
Europe. By the 17th century, for example, English launchings were secular affairs. The christening party for the launch of the 64-gun ship of the line in 1610 included the
Prince of Wales Prince of Wales ( cy, Tywysog Cymru, ) is a title traditionally and ceremonially granted to the heir apparent An heir apparent is a person who is first in an order of succession An order of succession or right of succession is the line o ...
and famed naval constructor
Phineas Pett 200px, Phineas Pett Phineas Pett (1 November 1570 – August 1647) was a shipwright and First Resident Commissioner of Chatham Dockyard and a member of the Pett dynasty. Phineas left a memoir of his activities which is preserved in the British Lib ...

Phineas Pett
, who was master shipwright at the Woolwich yard. Pett described the proceedings: The "standing cup" was a large cup fashioned of precious metal. When the ship began to slide down the ways, the presiding official took a ceremonial sip of wine from the cup, and poured the rest on the deck or over the bow. Usually the cup was thrown overboard and belonged to the lucky retriever. As navies grew larger and launchings more frequent, economy dictated that the costly cup be caught in a net for reuse at other launchings. Late in 17th century Britain, the standing-cup ceremony was replaced by the practice of breaking a bottle across the bow.


By country

Launching could be said to mark the birth of a vessel; and people throughout history have performed launching ceremonies, in part to appeal for good fortune and the safety of each new vessel. "The Launching Ceremony and the Silver Axe,"
''Seascope'' (NYK newsletter). No. 211, January 2005.


Canada

In Canada,
Aboriginal peoples Indigenous peoples, also referred to as first peoples, first nations, aboriginal peoples, native peoples (with these terms often capitalized when referred to relating to specific countries), or autochthonous peoples, are culturally distinct e ...
will perform ceremonies at the launching of vessels along with other methods of launching.


France

French ship launchings and christenings in the 18th and early 19th centuries were accompanied by unique rites closely resembling marriage and baptismal ceremonies. A godfather for the new ship presented a godmother with a bouquet of flowers as both said the ship's name. No bottle was broken, but a priest pronounced the vessel's name and blessed it with holy water.


India

In
India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi Hindi (Devanagari: , हिंदी, ISO 15919, ISO: ), or more precisely Modern Standard Hindi (Devanagari: , ISO 15919, ISO: ), is an Indo-Aryan language spoken chiefly in Hindi Belt, ...

India
, ships have historically been launched with a Puja ceremony that dedicates the ship to a Hindu god or goddess, and seeks blessings for her and her sailors. Historically,
Hindu Hindus (; ) are persons who regard themselves as culturally, ethnically, or religiously adhering to aspects of Hinduism Hinduism () is an Indian religion Indian religions, sometimes also termed Dharmic religions or Indic re ...

Hindu
priests would perform the ''puja'' ceremony at launch. In the 20th century, ships are launched with a lady breaking a
coconut The coconut tree (''Cocos nucifera'') is a member of the palm tree family (biology), family (Arecaceae) and the only living species of the genus ''Cocos''. The term "coconut" (or the archaic "cocoanut") can refer to the whole coconut palm, t ...

coconut
on the bow of the vessel, which is sometimes followed by a small Puja.


Japan

Japanese ship launchings incorporate silver axes which are thought to bring good luck and scare away evil. Japanese shipbuilders traditionally order the crafting of a special axe for each new vessel; and after the launching ceremony, they present the axe to the vessel's owner as a commemorative gift. The axe is used to cut the rope which tethers the ship to the place where she was built.


United Kingdom

Sponsor Sponsor or sponsorship may refer to a person or organization with some role (especially one of responsibility) regarding another person or organisation: *Sponsor (commercial), supporter of an event, activity, or person *Sponsor (legislative), a pers ...
s of British warships were customarily members of the royal family, senior naval officers, or Admiralty officials. A few civilians were invited to sponsor Royal Navy ships during the nineteenth century, and women became sponsors for the first time. In 1875, a religious element was returned to naval christenings by , wife of the
Prince of Wales Prince of Wales ( cy, Tywysog Cymru, ) is a title traditionally and ceremonially granted to the heir apparent An heir apparent is a person who is first in an order of succession An order of succession or right of succession is the line o ...

Prince of Wales
, when she introduced an Anglican choral service in the launching ceremony for battleship . The usage continues with the singing of
Psalm 107 Psalm 107 is the 107th psalm The Book of Psalms ( or ; he, תְּהִלִּים, , lit. "praises"), commonly referred to simply as Psalms, the Psalter or "the Psalms", is the first book of the '' Ketuvim'' ("Writings"), the third section of t ...
with its special meaning to mariners:
They that go down to the sea in ships;
That do business in great waters;
These see the works of the Lord, and His wonders in the deep.
In 1969,
Queen Elizabeth II Elizabeth II (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary; born 21 April 1926) is Queen of the United Kingdom The monarchy of the United Kingdom, commonly referred to as the British monarchy, is the constitutional monarchy A constitutional mo ...

Queen Elizabeth II
named the ocean liner after herself, instead of the older liner , by saying, "I name this ship Queen Elizabeth the Second. May God bless her and all who sail in her." On 4 July 2014, the Queen named the Royal Navy's new aircraft carrier with a bottle of
single malt Scotch whisky Scotch whisky (; sco, Scots whisky/whiskie, whusk(e)y; often simply called whisky or Scotch) is malt whisky or grain whisky (or a blend of the two), made in Scotland. All Scotch whisky was originally made from malted barley. Commercial distille ...
from the Bowmore distillery on the island of
Islay Islay ( ; gd, Ìle, sco, Ila) is the southernmost island of the Inner Hebrides The Inner Hebrides (; Scottish Gaelic: ''Na h-Eileanan a-staigh'', "the inner isles") is an archipelago off the west coast of mainland Scotland, to the sout ...

Islay
instead of champagne because the ship had been built and launched in Scotland. The similarly launched by pulling a lever which smashed a bottle of single malt Scotch whisky at the side of the ship. Shipyard ephemera is a rich source of detail concerning a launch and this was often material produced for the audience of the day and then thrown away.
Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums (TWAM) is a regional group of United Kingdom National Museums of the United Kingdom, national museums and the county archives service located across the Tyne and Wear area of north-east England. They have been administ ...
has many of these items from Tyne and Wear shipyards. A number can be seen i
Commons
The 1900 piece for reproduced in this article lists a woman performing the launch.


United States

Ceremonial practices for christening and launching ships in the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
have their roots in Europe. Descriptions are not plentiful for launching
American Revolutionary War The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), also known as the Revolutionary War and the American War of Independence, was initiated by delegates from Thirteen Colonies, thirteen American colonies of British America in Continental Congress ...
naval vessels, but a local newspaper detailed the launch of Continental frigate at
Portsmouth, New Hampshire Portsmouth is a city in Rockingham County, New Hampshire, Rockingham County, New Hampshire, United States. As of the 2020 United States census, 2020 census it had a population of 21,956. A historic seaport and popular summer tourist destin ...

Portsmouth, New Hampshire
, in May 1776: It was customary for the builders to celebrate a ship launching.
Rhode Island Rhode Island (, like ''road''), officially the State of Rhode Island, is a state in the New England New England is a region comprising six states in the Northeastern United States The Northeastern United States (also referred to as ...
authorities were charged with overseeing construction of frigates and . They voted the sum of fifty dollars to the master builder of each yard "to be expended in providing an entertainment for the carpenters that worked on the ships." Five pounds was spent for lime juice for the launching festivities of frigate at
Philadelphia Philadelphia (colloquially known simply as Philly) is the largest city in the Commonwealth A commonwealth is a traditional English term for a political community founded for the common good In philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is ...

Philadelphia
,
Pennsylvania Pennsylvania ( , elsewhere ; pdc, Pennsilfaani), officially the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is a landlocked A landlocked country is a country that does not have territory connected to an ocean or whose coastlines lie on endorheic basi ...

Pennsylvania
, suggesting that the "entertainment" included a potent punch with lime juice as an ingredient. No mention has come to light of christening a Continental Navy ship during the American Revolution. The first ships of the Continental Navy were , , , and . These were former merchantmen, and their names were assigned during conversion and outfitting. Later,
Congress Congresses are formal meetings of the representatives of different countries A country is a distinct territorial body or political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, ...

Congress
authorized the construction of thirteen frigates, and no names were assigned until after four had launched. The first description that we have of an American warship christening is that of at Boston, October 21, 1797, famous as "Old Ironsides." Her sponsor was Captain James Sever, USN, who stood on the weather deck at the bow. "At fifteen minutes after twelve she commenced a movement into the water with such steadiness, majesty and exactness as to fill every heart with sensations of joy and delight." As ''Constitution'' ran out, Captain Sever broke a bottle of fine old
Madeira Madeira ( , , ), officially the Autonomous Region of Madeira ( pt, Região Autónoma da Madeira), is one of the two autonomous Regions of Portugal, autonomous regions of Portugal, the other being the Azores. It is an archipelago situated in t ...
over the heel of the
bowsprit The bowsprit of a sailing Sailing employs the wind—acting on sails, wingsails or kites—to propel a craft on the surface of the ''water'' (sailing ship, sailboat, Windsurfing, windsurfer, or Kitesurfing, kitesurfer), on ''ice'' (iceboat) ...
. Frigate had an interesting launching on April 10, 1800, at New York: As the 19th century progressed, American ship launchings continued to be festive occasions, but with no set ritual except that the sponsor(s) used some "christening fluid" as the ship received her name. Sloop of war ''Concord'' was launched in 1827 and was "christened by a young lady of Portsmouth." This is the first known instance of a woman sponsoring a United States Navy vessel. Unfortunately, the contemporaneous account does not name her. The first ''identified'' woman sponsor was Lavinia Fanning Watson, daughter of a prominent Philadelphian. She broke a bottle of wine and water over the bow of
sloop-of-war In the 18th century and most of the 19th, a sloop-of-war in the Royal Navy was a warship A warship or combatant ship is a that is built and primarily intended for . Usually they belong to the of a state. As well as being armed, warships ...
at
Philadelphia Navy Yard The Philadelphia Naval Shipyard was an important naval shipyard of the United States for almost two centuries. Philadelphia's original navy yard, begun in 1776 on Front Street and Federal Street in what is now the Pennsport section of the ci ...
on August 22, 1846. Women as sponsors became increasingly the rule, but not universally so. As sloop-of-war "glided along the inclined plane" in 1846, "two young sailors, one stationed at each side of her head, anointed her with bottles, and named her as she left her cradle for the deep." As late as 1898, the torpedo boat was christened by the son of the builder. Wine is the traditional christening fluid, although numerous other liquids have been used. and were sent on their way in 1843 with
whisky Whisky or whiskey is a type of distilled alcoholic beverage made from fermented Fermentation is a metabolic Metabolism (, from el, μεταβολή ''metabolē'', "change") is the set of life Life is a characteristic that ...

whisky
. Seven years later, "a bottle of best
brandy Brandy is a liquor Liquor or spirit (also hard liquor, or distilled alcohol) is an alcoholic drink produced by distillation of grains, fruits, or vegetables that have already gone through alcoholic fermentation. The distillation process co ...

brandy
was broken over the bow of steam sloop ." Steam frigate earned her place in naval history as
Confederate States of America The Confederate States of America (CSA), commonly referred to as the Confederate States or simply the Confederacy, was an unrecognized herrenvolk republic A republic () is a form of government A government is the system ...

Confederate States of America
ironclad , and she was baptized with water from the
Merrimack River The Merrimack River (or Merrimac River, an occasional earlier spelling) is a river in the northeastern United States. It rises at the confluence of the Pemigewasset River, Pemigewasset and Winnipesaukee River, Winnipesaukee rivers in Franklin, ...
. Admiral
David Farragut David Glasgow Farragut (; also spelled Glascoe; July 5, 1801 – August 14, 1870) was a flag officer of the United States Navy during the American Civil War. He was the first Rear admiral (United States), rear admiral, Vice admiral (United States ...

David Farragut
's famous
American Civil War The American Civil War (also known by other names Other most often refers to: * Other (philosophy), a concept in psychology and philosophy Other or The Other may also refer to: Books * The Other (Tryon novel), ''The Other'' (Tryon nove ...
flagship A flagship is a vessel used by the commanding officer The commanding officer (CO) or sometimes, if the incumbent is a general officer A general officer is an officer of high rank in the armies, and in some nations' air forces, spac ...
steam sloop was christened by three sponsors; two young ladies broke bottles of
Connecticut River The Connecticut River is the longest river in the New England New England is a region comprising six states in the Northeastern United States The Northeastern United States (also referred to as the American Northeast, the Northeast, and ...

Connecticut River
water and
Hartford, Connecticut Hartford is the capital city A capital or capital city is the municipality holding primary status in a Department (country subdivision), department, country, Constituent state, state, province, or other administrative region, usually as ...
spring water, while a naval lieutenant completed the ceremony with a bottle of sea water.
Champagne Champagne (, ) is a sparkling wine Sparkling wine is a wine Wine is an alcoholic drink typically made from fermented grape juice. Yeast Yeasts are eukaryotic, single-celled microorganisms classified as members of the fungus ...
came into popular use as a christening fluid as the 19th century closed. A granddaughter of
Secretary of the Navy The secretary of the Navy (or SECNAV) is a statutory officer () and the head (chief executive officer) of the United States Department of the Navy, Department of the Navy, a military department (component organization) within the United States D ...
Benjamin F. Tracy wet the bow of , the Navy's first steel battleship, with champagne at the
New York Navy Yard The Brooklyn Navy Yard (originally known as the New York Navy Yard) is a shipyard A shipyard (also called a dockyard) is a place where ships A ship is a large watercraft that travels the world's oceans and other sufficiently deep Se ...
on November 18, 1890. The effects of national
prohibition Prohibition is the act or practice of forbidding something by law; more particularly the term refers to the banning of the manufacture Manufacturing is the production of goods In economics Economics () is the social science that st ...

prohibition
on alcoholic beverages were reflected to some extent in ship christenings.
Cruiser A cruiser is a type of warship A warship or combatant ship is a naval ship that is built and primarily intended for naval warfare. Usually they belong to the armed forces of a state. As well as being armed, warships are designed to with ...

Cruiser
s and , for example, were christened with water; the
submarine A submarine (or sub) is a watercraft capable of independent operation underwater. It differs from a submersible, which has more limited underwater capability. It is also sometimes used historically or colloquially to refer to remotely operated ...

submarine
with cider. However, battleship appropriately received her name with California wine in 1919. Champagne returned in 1922, but only for the launch of light cruiser . Rigid naval
airship An airship, dirigible balloon or blimp is a type of aerostat An aerostat (From greek language, Greek ἀήρ ''aer'' (air) + στατός ''statos'' (standing) through French) is a lighter than air aircraft that gains its lift through the ...

airship
s , , , and were built during the 1920s and early 1930s, carried on the
Naval Vessel Register The ''Naval Vessel Register'' (NVR) is the official inventory of ships and service craft in custody of or titled by the United States Navy ), (unofficial)."''Non sibi sed patriae''" ( en, "Not for self but for country") (unofficial). , colo ...
, and each was formally
commissioned Commission or commissioning may refer to: Business and contracting * Commission (remuneration), a form of payment to an agent for services rendered ** Commission (art), the purchase or the creation of a piece of art most often on behalf of another ...
. The earliest
First Lady of the United States The first lady of the United States (FLOTUS) is the title held by the hostess of the , usually the wife of the , concurrent with the president's term in office. Although the first lady's role has never been codified or officially defined, she ...
to act as sponsor was
Grace Coolidge Grace Anna Coolidge (née __NOTOC__ A birth name is the name of the person given upon their birth. The term may be applied to the surname In some cultures, a surname, family name, or last name is the portion of one's personal name 300p ...

Grace Coolidge
who christened the airship ''Los Angeles''.
Lou Henry Hoover Lou Hoover (née__NOTOC__ A birth name is the name of the person given upon their birth. The term may be applied to the surname, the given name or to the entire name. Where births are required to be officially registered, the entire name enter ...

Lou Henry Hoover
christened ''Akron'' in 1931, but the customary bottle was not used. Instead, the First Lady pulled a cord which opened a hatch in the airship's towering nose to release a flock of pigeons. Thousands of ships of every description came off the ways during
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
, the concerted effort of a mobilized American industry. The historic christening and launching ceremonies continued, but travel restrictions, other wartime considerations, and sheer numbers dictated that such occasions be less elaborate than those in the years before the war.''(This article includes material from "Ships of the United States Navy: Christening, Launching and Commissioning, Second Edition," which was prepared for and published by the Naval History Division of the Department of the Navy,
Washington, D.C. ) , image_skyline = , image_caption = Clockwise from top left: the Washington Monument The Washington Monument is an obelisk within the National Mall The National Mall is a Landscape architecture, landscaped ...
, 1975, and therefore is in the public domain as federal government work).''
On 15 December 1941, the
United States Maritime CommissionImage:Usmc1936 logo.jpg, 200px, Seal of the United States Maritime Commission The United States Maritime Commission (MARCOM) was an independent executive agency of the U.S. federal government that was created by the Merchant Marine Act of 1936, pass ...
announced that all formal launching ceremonies would be discontinued for merchant ships being constructed under its authority, though simple informal ceremonies could continue without reimbursement to builders. In recent history, all U.S. Navy sponsors have been female. In addition to the ceremonial breaking of a champagne bottle on the bow, the sponsor remains in contact with the ship's crew and is involved in special events such as homecomings. The sponsor will also receive a token of the launching. The bottle is wrapped in a yarn
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before it is used in the ceremony, and this is mounted on a plaque (''see image'') which is given to them afterwards.


Incidents

* sank moments after her launching at a
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in
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on 3 July 1883. As ''Daphne'' moved into the river, the anchors failed to stop the ship's forward progress. The
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anchor moved only , but the port anchor was dragged . The current of the river caught ''Daphne'' and flipped it onto its
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side, sinking it in deep water. 124 died including many young boys, some of whose relatives watched the ceremony from shore. * launched on 21 June 1898. ''Albion'' created a wave with her entry into the water after the
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christened her. The wave caused a stage to collapse on which 200 people were watching; it slid into a side creek, and 34 people drowned, mostly women and children.Burt, p. 159 This was probably one of the first-ever ship launchings to be filmed. * In 1907, the Italian ocean liner capsized and sank upon launch. * In 2001,
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shipyard sank a cargo ship at launch.


See also

* Ship class naming conventions *
United States ship naming conventions United States ship naming conventions for the U.S. Navy were established by Congressional action at least as early as 1862. Title Thirteen, Chapter Six, of the U.S. Code, enacted in that year, reads, in part, Further clarification was made by e ...
* Russian ship naming conventions *
Japanese ship-naming conventionsJapanese ship names follow different conventions from those typical in the West. Merchant ship names often contain the word ''maru'' at the end (meaning ''circle''), while warships are never named after people, but rather after objects such as mounta ...
*
Hull classification symbol The United States Navy ), (unofficial)."''Non sibi sed patriae''" ( en, "Not for self but for country") (unofficial). , colors = Blue and gold  , colors_label = Colors , march ...
*
Ship commissioning Ship commissioning is the act or ceremony of placing a ship in active service and may be regarded as a particular application of the general concepts and practices of project commissioning Project commissioning is the process of assuring that a ...
*
Ship sponsor A ship sponsor, by tradition, is a female civilian who is invited to "sponsor" a vessel, presumably to bestow good luck and divine protection over the seagoing vessel and all that sail aboard.Eyers, Jonathan (2011). ''Don't Shoot the Albatross!: Nau ...
* Lists of ship launches


References


Further reading

* Silvia Rodgers, Rodgers, Silvia ''The symbolism of ship launching in the Royal Navy'' (1983) (PhD thesis)


External links


Photos of the 8 Dec 1984 launching ceremony of the USS ''Samuel B. Roberts'' (FFsG 58)

An online exhibit of ship launching ceremonies from the first half of the 20th Century

Short video of ships being launched sideways
{{DEFAULTSORT:Ship Naming And Launching Naval ceremonies, Ship launching