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1811 - Launch of HERMES

8th July. The 20 gun sloop Hermes that had been built by apprentices was launched. After completing she took part in the naval war with America.

1812-14. On 15th September 1814, in an attack on shore batteries at Mobile,USA,her rigging was damaged and she grounded, after further damage she caught fire and became a total loss. 19 of her crew perished.

Launchings. The custom of breaking a bottle of wine over the stem of a ship when being launched originates from custom of toasting good fortune to the ship from a goblet of wine, which was then cast into the sea so that a toast of ill intent could not be drunk from the same goblet. This practice continued for many years until, in 1690 the practice of breaking a bottle of wine across the stem of the ship was introduced. Ships belonging to the crown were normally launched by a royal personage or Royal Dockyard Commissioners. However in 1811 the Prince Regent introduced the custom of ladies launching Royal ships. On occasions when launching large vessels it was found more practicable to throw the bottle of wine at the stem of the ship. On one such occasion a certain lady missed her aim and the bottle hit a spectator who sued the Admiralty for damages. As a result of this the Admiralty ordered that on future launchings the bottle of wine should be securely tied to the ship with a stout lanyard.

Another old custom that accompanied the launch and is still observed to-day is to pray for divine blessing on the ship and her crew throughout her life. Royal Navy ships are never launched with champagne only Empire Wine.