Like the birth of a child, ship launchings are a time of joy and celebration. Such events In the past were public spectacles that drew huge crowds (over 100,000 spectators came to the launch of the Titanic). Some were graced by members of the royalty and dignitaries.

The launching of a newly built vessel always presents a unique challenge to engineers. The most dramatic moment in the process comes when the ship rolls down the slipway and hits the water, subjecting its entire structure to immense stresses.

READ MORE: ‘Ship Launching Explained’ and ‘A History of Ship Christenings with Champagne’

It takes millions of dollars to build a large, modern vessel; nothing for a man to sire a child.

— Barista Uno

Launch of the cargo ship ‘Kelmscott’ at shipyard of John Readhead & Sons Ltd, South Shields, England (1943)
Courtesy of Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums

Launching of the ‘HMS Hogue’ at Vickers, Sons & Maxim, Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, England (1900).
Courtesy of the Municipal Archives of Trondheim (Norway)
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) licence

Launching of ‘USS Robalo’ at Manitowoc Shipbuilding Company, Manitowoc, Wisconsin, United States (1943)
Courtesy of the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration

Launch of the bulk freighter ‘Frank J. Hecker’ in St. Clair, Michigan, United States (1905)
Detroit Publishing Co., publisher
Courtesy of the Library of Congress, USA

Launching of the ‘John W. Boardman’ cargo ship at Toledo Shipyard, Ohio, United States (1916)
Courtesy of the Toledo Lucas County Public Library (Ohio)

Launch of ‘RMS Olympic’, Harland and Wolff, Belfast, Ireland (1900)
Bain News Service, publisher
Courtesy of the Library of Congress, USA

Launch of ‘HMS Queen Mary’, Palmer’s Shipbuilding, Jarrow-on-Tyne, England (1912)
Bain News Service, publisher
Courtesy of the Library of Congress, USA

~ Barista Uno

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