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Last Updated: Monday, 4 February 2008, 08:07 GMT
Commandos engaged for ship naming
Ventura - photo from P&O

Cruise firm P&O is taking no chances with the naming of its new superliner Ventura later this year.

The company is to employ a crack squad of Royal Marines to ensure the traditional bottle of champagne breaks.

Sailors believe it is a sign of bad luck if the launching ceremony bottle remains intact on impact.

In April, actress Dame Helen Mirren will command a team from RNAS Yeovilton in Somerset, to abseil down the ship, smashing the bottle against the hull.

P&O Cruises is understood to be keen to avoid a repeat of the awkward situation when the Duchess of Cornwall launched rival Cunard's new luxury ship the Queen Victoria in December.

This is a rather unusual assignment for our lads, but well within their capabilities
Lt Col Steve Richards

Camilla launched the champagne bottle against the side of the 90,000-tonne liner, but it did not break.

Three weeks later scores of passengers on board the Queen Victoria were taken ill with a highly contagious stomach bug.

Dame Helen said: "It is the first time I have ever named a ship - let alone one of the size of P&O Cruises Ventura."

Royal Marines display team commanding officer, Lt Col Steve Richards, said: "This is a rather unusual assignment for our lads, but well within their capabilities.

"They are very keen to assist Dame Helen with the launch - they will not let her down."

At 115,000 tonnes, Ventura will be the largest liner ever to be built specifically for the UK market, carrying nearly 3,600 passengers and 1,200 crew at full capacity.

The naming ceremony will take place in Southampton on 16 April, ahead of the ship's maiden cruise to the Mediterranean.

Luxury liner hit by sickness bug
30 Dec 07 |  Hampshire
Camilla names new Cunard 'queen'
10 Dec 07 |  Hampshire

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