New Lady Sponsor for Gibraltar Squadron

The Governor’s wife, Mrs Lorraine Davis, assumed the role of Lady Sponsor for the Royal Navy Gibraltar Squadron.

Commanding Officer of the Gibraltar Squadron, Lieutenant Commander Ollie Loughran opened the ceremony with some history about the origins of Lady Sponsor’s.

He said, “The sponsor is usually the person who names a ship by invoking a blessing upon the ship ‘and all who sail within her’. The ceremony has at various times involved the sprinkling of holy water on the ship, throwing a cupful of wine on to the deck, or, since the late 17th century, breaking a bottle of wine or champagne across the bow. The ceremony is usually performed at the same time that the ship is launched.”

The sponsor of a Royal Navy warship up to the mid-19th century was usually a member of the royal family or a senior naval officer or official, but in the course of the 19th century it became increasingly common for the sponsor to be a woman, and lady sponsors are now the rule rather than the exception.

These may be members of the Royal family, wives of senior members of the establishment, wives of admirals, senior politicians, officials, or shipbuilders. Someone of high status with a clear connection with the ship is preferred.

In order to maintain ongoing links with their Lady Sponsor, Royal Navy Gibraltar Squadron do things slightly differently. 

Lt Cdr Loughran explained, “Rather than a sponsor holding the role indefinitely it has kindly been fulfilled by His Excellency the Governor’s wife and the responsibility is handed over when the Governor departs the Rock.

"There are no official duties attached to the role of sponsor; but just as a godparent is encouraged to maintain a connection with a godchild and to continue to provide support and encouragement, it is always hoped that a sponsor will similarly keep in touch with their ship and be present at major ceremonial occasions.  

"A good relationship between ship and sponsor, like any productive affiliation, has always proved beneficial to morale on board.”

Mrs Davis was honoured to assume the position and recognised the importance of welfare within the services. 

She said: “I have been a Navy wife myself for over 30 years, and the moral and welfare of our service personnel is close to my heart, and paramount, to those working in often strenuous and challenging circumstances. 

"Which is why, I am especially delighted, to be given the opportunity to lend my support, in whatever capacity, to the hard working men and women of the Squadron. 

"I hope to bring a sense of my personality to the role and look forward to spending more time with Royal Navy Gibraltar Squadron.”