After a U. S. Navy ship is launched, the bottle was often
placed in a box and given to the sponsor as a souvenir.... a
broken champagne bottle, housed in a sterling silver
decorative covering, with the name, date, sponsor, and
launching place. Usually the bottle was wrapped in RW&B
ribbons. The ribbons and broken bottle is what you
normally see in these boxes. If a bottle is inside the silver
outer case it is a replacement for the original launching
bottle, but the dent from the original launching activity may
be visible on the outer case.
When OKANOGAN was launched
26 Oct 1944, the
Navy assigned a sponsor, Mrs. E. J. Husted to smash a
champagne bottle against the ship’s bow. A brief moment
in time, a blast of the bubbly, and some broken glass....a
cheer, and it’s history. But, not so fast!
Colin Carney got a phone call from a Mr. Eric Behling
asking about an item he and his wife found in an antique
shop in Bisbee, AZ. (Miners & Merchants Antique Center -
"Floyd’s Back Corner") Eric sent Colin two pictures of the
artifact, which appeared to be, perhaps, something used
when OKANOGAN was christened/launched.
Harv Hochhalter has our Launching bottle! The owner in
the shop said he picked the bottle at a sale in Tucson,
Arizona. For $90.00, Harv bought the bottle and got the
owner to pack and mail it to him. The box has the date
October 26, 1944, and included a card printed with
"Launching Bottle 533-107." The box needed a bit of repair
with a broken hanger and some loose screws. After a little
cleaning it will remain "as is". Harv plans to get the bottle
and box to Portland and then a decision can be made on
what to do with them.
We do not have any original photos of the launching of our
OKANOGAN, but the photos below capture the
moment....close your eyes and imagine you are there 26
October 1944, Richmond, California...