Naming a Ship – What is so Peculiar about Ship Naming Ceremony?


We all must agree with the fact that in any culture across the entire globe, it is always a tradition to name either a newly constructed building or a newly born baby for the sake of identification. It is tradition to celebrate it with a “naming ceremony.” Have you ever wondered how a ship is named? How a traditional ship naming ceremony held? And what is behind a ship’s name? Read here to know about the interesting facts about a ship naming ceremony and ship’s name.

Naming Ceremony

A ship to be completely constructed and proved sea-worthy, contracts billions of man hours and a million tons of steel costing an average of $300 million each. So definitely the owner of the vessel will be cheered-up to celebrate to add a newly built vessel in their fleet. Won’t anybody celebrate if they get an asset worth $300 million? The celebration is in the form of a “Ship Naming Ceremony.”

Each ship will have its own code number given by the shipyard, a place where she is being built. There after, her progress in construction is announced only by using her code name, till she is completely ready to sail out. The shipyard quotes a particular date of completion, and works forward to roll-out the ship out of the yards. Once the construction and final fabrication is completed, the owner is notified of the completion and to celebrate the birth of the new born giant. The owner of the vessel arrives at the ship yard with friends and family members, with a pre-decided name.

A typical naming ceremony

olden tradition of ship naming ceremony

The ship is totally decorated with flags and long rolls of ribbon, dressed up to attract everyone’s attention. As per the tradition a woman is made to cut the ribbon or break a champagne bottle on the ship’s hull. As the lady cuts the ribbon, the champagne bottle is either made to crash against the ship’s hull automatically or sometimes the lady is given an opportunity to crash the bottle against the ship’s hull. The champagne bottle is tied loose on a rope suspended from a height, usually a crane or some shipyard structure. As the lady swings the champagne bottle against the ship’s hull, the trumpets are blown, drums hit hard, and musicians play a great band of music to add up spice to the show. This is the general procedure of how a ship naming ceremony is celebrated.

champagne hitting ship's hull

cruise ship naming ceremony

What is in the Ship’s Name?

Q-Flex L.N.G naming ceremony

You must have seen almost every merchant ship starts with either “M.V or M.T.” Have you ever wondered what their acronym is?

M.V : Motor Vessel or Motored Vessel.

M.T : Motored Tanker or Motor Tanker.

S.S : Steam Ship,

H.M.S: or H.M.B.S: These are set of acronyms used for referring the ships under Her Majesty. It directly indicates either The Queen or The King of United Kingdom. Earlier, H.B.M.S was used whose acronym is Her Britannic Majesty Ship. These ate not only limiting to ships, but also applicable for submarines and shore establishments.

Infact you can read more details about the ship name acronyms by clicking on this article regarding ship name abbreviations

Usually a ship’s name will be

1. Country or a City name like M.V. State of Saurashtra

2. Woman ‘s name like M.V. Queen Elizabeth II or M.V. Mary

3. Leader’s name M.V. Napoleon Bonaparte

Although the naming ceremony is all about partying and having fun, actually the owner or the company also needs to register this name with the appropriate authorities. There are several formalities regarding this and normally you would have to apply to the classification society or appropriate government authority depending on the country. For example here is a link which leads to the application form for a ship name which is issued by the Director General of Shipping. There are different formalities for different countries and normally these formalities would be completed prior to the actual naming ceremony for obvious reasons

Qatar gas naming ceremony

In my next article, let us discuss on how to take over a newly built ship from the yard.

Image Credits:

picasa web albums