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Traditions of Shipbuilding

Ships or large vessels have been built for centuries. Seafaring has always been surrounded by various myths, and therefore, starting from their construction stage, there are several rituals that are applied to vessels to ensure safe sailing. By now the ceremonies have lost their original superstition, but even today there is a number of celebrations held at various stages of construction, which honour these traditions.

1. Start of production

The first traditional shipbuilding ceremony is held when the production process starts. During this ceremony the purchaser and the vendor of the vessel ceremonially press the start button of the laser cutter.

“A steel sheet of the hull of the vessel is cut by the automatic cutter into the desired shape, and the participants in the ceremony are given nice souvenirs cut out of this metal sheet”, says Peeter Kangro, the manager of the Megastar project and the head of the Helsinki-Tallinn route.


CEO of AS Tallink Grupp, Mr. Janek Stalmeister pushes the button of the steel-cutting machine, starting the hull production of Megastar.

2. Keel laying

After the metal sheets have been assembled into completed large bottom sections of the vessel, it is time for the keel laying ceremony. One of the large sections of the bottom of the vessel is placed on blocks standing on the floor of the dock. Lucky coins are put on one of the blocks. This tradition is a rooted in the times of sailing vessels, when a coin was put under the main-mast for good sailing luck. When the vessel is later launched the coins are placed in a showcase inside the vessels for passengers to see.

There are other variations of this celebration. For instance, a steel cylinder is made and the coins are placed inside it. The cylinder is then welded to the inside bottom of the vessel.
“This was what happened with Baltic Princess built at a French shipyard”, explains Kangro the varying practices.


Keel laying of Megastar – the first block of the ship was placed to the drydock.

3. Launch

Filling the dock with water is an important and a symbolic moment. Depending on the shipyard and the vessel the launch could mean proceeding from the hull manufacturing stage to the fitting-out stage, or transferring of an almost completed vessel to the water and holding the naming ceremony.

Megastar will be launched on 01.07.2016, when the vessel will be moved from the dock to the fitting-out quay. The first sea trial will take place in December of 2016. “It will be a nice vessel”, says Peeter with a satisfied smile, which stems from the experience gained with many vessels over three decades.


Cruise ferry Baltic Queen is waiting for the water to fill the drydock just before the float-out.


Tags:  Shipbuilding

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