Four Things to Know About Christening Ceremonies

USS Hyman G. Rickover SSN 795 - Christened July 31, 2021 - Sponsor Darleen Greenert

If your spouse is attached to a PCU (Pre-Commissioning Unit), chances are you have either attended or heard of a christening ceremony. This ceremony celebrates a momentous milestone as a newly-built submarine gets ready to join the fleet. Steeped in pride and tradition, the christening ceremony is dedicated to both the sailors and shipbuilders who have worked tirelessly to get the boat ready for testing and its eventual commissioning.

Here’s four things to know:

Christening of the boat is said to bring good fortune and safe travels

It is customary to break a bottle of champagne against the bow of the vessel before it enters the water for the first time, an honor bestowed upon the boat’s sponsor. Your superstitious sailors are going to hope the bottle breaks on the first try!

Every submarine is assigned a sponsor early on in its conception

Traditionally the role of sponsor goes to a woman who has committed much of her time and energy to public service. The sponsor will speak at the christening ceremony and serve as a key figurehead through launch and commissioning.

Guest speakers include the sponsor and those high ranking in the Navy

If you are invited to attend a christening ceremony, there will be formal speakers including the sponsor and the principal speaker(s) are often ranking high in the Navy. You may hear the history of the boat’s name along with introductions to the commanding officer and crew.

Many milestones are celebrated

Milestones for the sailors and the submarines they serve on are marked and celebrated through ceremonies big and small. From dolphin pinnings, to change of commands, to homecomings….the list goes on and on! In the submarine lifestyle where nothing ever seems to be certain, there is one sentiment that always rings true – “Pride Runs Deep”! 

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