Launchings are steeped in the maritime tradition of early sailing vessels. During the reign of the Tudors, it became custom to launch a vessel using a silver cup filled with red wine. The Kingís representative (in those days male) would drink to the vesselís propitious future, spill the wine at the cardinal compass points on the vesselís deck and then heave the cup overboard as a final cavalier gesture to Neptune.
In 1811, King George III of England introduced the feminine element in launchings. Anxious to afford his daughters some stature in the public eye without depleting the royal purse, King George struck on the idea of having them Sponsor naval vessels.
Red wine was eventually replaced by champagne, as the latterís complex aging process and high cost gave it a more princely cachet. Today, a cheesecloth-wrapped bottle of champagne, decorated with woven ribbon, is broken against the vesselís hull.
Tradition still holds that the christening brings luck to the vessel for the duration of its operating life.