The naval tradition of launching a new vessel by breaking a bottle of champagne over its bow has now been scrapped in Queensland as "environmentally unfriendly".


Mooloolaba Coast Guard in Queensland, Australia was unable to launch its new rescue boat according to naval tradition on 25 June.

Instead of breaking a bottle of champagne over the bow, the Rotary III was christened with the sparking wine being poured sedately over the vessel.

The bottle had even been pre-opened.

The official blessing ceremony in Mooloolaba coincided with 40th anniversary celebrations.

The latest Coast Guard Mooloolaba QF6 vessel. It was launched without naval tradition. Champaign was poured not smashed against the bow because it was deemed "environmentally unfriendly"

The Rotary III. Credit: Coast Guard Mooloolaba QF6/Facebook


Speaking to the Noosa News, the deputy commander of the Mooloolaba Coast Guard, Rod Ashlin said the procedure had been recently changed.

“It is now environmentally unfriendly to break the glass,” he explained.

“I have launched plenty of vessels by breaking champagne over the bow. It is a politically correct world,” added Ashlin, who is also the chairman of the coast guard vessel committee.

The tradition of breaking a bottle of champagne to launch a new boat is naval tradition in many cultures.

Debra Dunham, mother of late Cpl. Jason Dunham and ship's sponsor breaks a bottle of champagne across the bow of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer Jason Dunham (DDG 109) during the ship's christening ceremony at General Dynamics Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine. Dunham posthumously received the nation's highest military honor, the Medal of Honor for his actions on April 14, 2004 in Karabilah, Iraq

Debra Dunham breaks a bottle of champagne across the bow of the destroyer Jason Dunham (DDG 109). Credit: US Navy


According to maritime lore, the failure to smash the bottle was a bad omen.

Many ancient seafaring societies had their own ceremonies for launching a new ship.

The Greeks, Romans and Egyptians all offered gifts to the gods to protect the vessel and the sailors on board.

The Vikings even used human blood.

By the 19th century, it became traditional for a wine bottle to be broken across the ship’s bow.

Over the years, there have been various beverages of choice, including whisky and brandy.

Water from significant American rivers were used to christen US Navy warships in the 19th century.

During Prohibition, US ships were launched with water, juice and even apple cider.

The vessel Bell M. Shimada is christened by Susan E. Lautenbacher

The vessel Bell M. Shimada is christened by Susan E. Lautenbacher. Credit Aboutcrew/Facebook


Eventually, the christening of ships became large public events, with crowds assembling to witness the ceremony.

As champagne is considered as one of the most elite wines, it became the standard christening liquid of choice.

The tradition also developed where a woman would be named the sponsor of the ship and be given the honours of smashing the bottle of champagne over the bow – not always an easy task!