First Lady Michelle Obama smashed a bottle of champagne to christen a ship named after the first female Coast Guardsman, Capt. Dorothy Stratton, on July 24. The ceremony was held in Mississippi, according to the official Coast Guard blog.
“Our service could not be more honored than to have our First Lady, Michelle Obama, serve as the Stratton’s sponsor and carry on this time honored tradition,” said Adm. Robert Papp, Coast Guard Commandant.
More than 3000 people attended the ceremony at which the First Lady, the Secretary of Homeland Security, the 24th Commandant of the Coast Guard, the Governor and First Lady of Mississippi, and many other distinguished guests were present.
The crowd waved American flags when the First Lady stepped up to give a speech. Obama praised Dorothy Stratton, who joined the Coast Guard during World War ll. She passed away in 2006.
“I am very excited and honored to be the first First Lady to christen a Coast Guard ship,” said Obama. “Dorothy Stratton was one of the finest first women in uniform.”
“Captain Dorothy Stratton taught us about the power of a single individual to bring about real change,” she continued. “Captain Stratton taught us what’s possible when people are given the opportunity to show their potential.”
After the speech, Obama took two swings to crack open the champagne bottle against the ship, which is one of the National Security Cutters.
“By choosing Captain Dorothy Stratton as the cutter’s namesake, a great challenge has been issued to her crew and to our service – make this cutter a fitting tribute to her namesake,” said Papp.
The christening of the ship caused Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Homeland Security, to reflect on the value of the US Coast Guard.
“As we stand before the Stratton and prepare to enter her into service, we are reminded of the indispensible role the Coast Guard plays,” said Napolitano.
“Our dedicated men and women need Stratton’s capabilities, to execute their duties and the Coast Guard’s challenging maritime missions.”
Sea trials for the Stratton are expected to begin next summer, and the ship is expecting to be commissioned in 2012.