The official launching ceremony recognizing the "floating" of a ship by name and marked with the traditional breaking of a bottle of champagne across the bow.
The blessing of ships dates as far back as the third millennium BC, when the ancient Babylonians, according to a narrative, sacrificed an oxen to the gods upon completion of a ship. Throughout history, different cultures developed and shaped the religious ceremony surrounding a ship launching.
Today the christening is often conducted before the launching. The ship's sponsors who are most often women break the bottom of champagne and ceremonially give the ship its name. The first recorded christening of a United States Navy ship is USS Constitution, on Oct. 21, 1797 in Boston, where the ship's sponsor, Capt. James Sever, broke a bottle of wine across the bow as "Old Ironsides" slid into the water.
This video shows the most recent former USS Indiana BB 58's Christening and Launching held November 21, 1941 just 16 days prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor. Christening of the USS Indiana SSN 789 planned for April 29th at Newport News Shipbuilding, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries.