It was a big day yesterday for the third National Security Cutter (NSC), Stratton. The Coast Guard and industry partners not only laid the keel, marking the beginning of the ship’s construction, but also announced the cutter would be sponsored by the First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama.
As the cutter’s sponsor, the First Lady’s initials were ceremoniously welded into the keel during yesterday’s events. Serving as Stratton’s sponsor is an extension of Mrs. Obama’s commitment to supporting America’s men and women in uniform and their families. The NSC Stratton is also the first white-hull patrol cutter to be named after a woman in 20 years and only one of about 10 Coast Guard cutters with a female namesake.
These honors truly memorialize the contributions and achievements of Captain Dorothy Stratton. Captain Stratton was the first woman accepted in to the Coast Guard Women’s Reserve in 1942, which she led during World War II. She coined the name SPARs for the members as a contraction of the service’s motto “Semper Paratus.” SPARs served in many vital roles during the war and helped pave the way for women to serve throughout our Armed Forces. During her four years as director, she recruited and led 10,000 enlisted women and 1,000 commissioned officers and ultimately earned the Legion of Merit medal for her contributions to women in the military.
Her official war-time biography noted:
“Through her qualities of leadership, Captain Stratton inspired the finest type of woman to volunteer her services to her country. Through her keen understanding of the abilities of women, her vision of the jobs which they could perform, and her consummate tact in fitting women into a military organization, she was able to direct the efforts of the women of the Reserve into channels of the greatest usefulness to the Coast Guard and to the country.”
The NSCs are part of the Coast Guard’s Deepwater program to upgrade its cutter fleet. The 418-foot long cutters feature increased range and endurance (60–90 day patrol cycles); more powerful armament; larger flight decks; chemical, biological and radiological environmental hazard detection and defense; and improved Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) equipment, enhancing Coast Guard and U.S. Navy interoperability under the National Fleet plan.
Click here to watch a video of the ceremony