Pen & Sword Books

A History of Ship Launches and Their Ceremonies (Book)

Code: PW406
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Throughout history, man has been performing rituals at the launch of a new ship to seek supernatural or divine protection for his ship and those who will sail in her. The form of the ritual varies according to local custom and religion: from the breaking of a coconut, to the release of doves, to the role of astrologers in choosing an auspicious day for the launch. But the sentiment that lies behind all launching ceremonies is fear. At the moment of launching a new ship a seafarer is alert to any sign that his ship is not sound. He is superstitious and seeks reassurance that his ship and those who will sail in her will be protected. The rites of blood sacrifice and libations performed by the ancient Babylonians and Greeks are well evidenced. The evolution of this practice into today’s tradition of breaking a bottle of wine against the bow of a ship before launch, still symbolising sacrifice, is explored as well as the now widely practised custom of inviting ladies to name and launch new ships.

About the Author:
George Hodgkinson, a qualified lawyer, spent 30 years in the City of London practising in the field of international ship finance. In this capacity he was privileged to attend some 50 ship naming and launching ceremonies in different countries. His thirst to know more about the origin of the rituals performed at such ceremonies resulted in extensive research, which is shared in this book.

Author - George Hodgkinson
Publisher - Pen & Sword Transport 
Pages: 344
ISBN: 9781399049450 

Published: November 2023

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