While the christening of any cutter is of particular interest to the Coast Guard, this Friday’s christening of the service’s newest National Security Cutter is an especially proud moment for any woman who has ever donned Coast Guard blue.
First Lady Michelle Obama’s christening of CGC Stratton, will mark a historic day where the legacy of the first female Guardians, the SPARs, is honored and remembered.
“I am honored to serve as sponsor of the Coast Guard Cutter Stratton, named after one of the most extraordinary women to serve our nation in uniform,” said the First Lady during the keel laying ceremony almost one year ago to the day. “Every day, the United States Coast Guard keeps our families and communities safe at home and contributes to the defense of our nation overseas. This vessel will embody the strength of today’s military and the enduring courage of our Coast Guard men and women.”
Named for Captain Dorothy Stratton (1899-2006), the cutter honors her contributions not only as the first woman accepted in to the Coast Guard in 1942 but also as a trailblazer for all future female Guardians to come. Stratton, known for coining the name SPARs, led the 10,000 enlisted women and 1,000 commissioned officers that made up the SPARs during World War II. Although released from service in 1946, it will be as if the SPARs return to active duty as their legendary service lives on in the CGC Stratton.
The CGC Stratton (WMSL 752) is the third of eight 418-foot, multi-mission NSCs scheduled to be built and named for a Coast Guard legend. The first two NSCs are named for former commandants Adm. Ellsworth P. Bertholf and Adm. Russell Waesche respectively. The fourth NSC is slated to be named for Founding Father and first U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton.
On Thursday, there will be a rare gathering of some of the legendary SPARs, their families and friends along with the Coast Guard Vice Commandant, Vice Adm. Sally Brice-O’Hara, shipbuilders and prospective crew at the Northrop Grumman Pascagoula, Miss., shipyard.
The following day, there will be no shortage of VIPs as the christening ceremony is expected to draw the First Lady, Michelle Obama; the Coast Guard Commandant, Adm. Robert Papp; the cutter’s prospective Commanding Officer, Capt. Bruce Baffer; Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding President, Mike Petters; as well as Marsha Barbour, wife of Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour.
Stay tuned as I report back from the events on the Compass. Expect firsthand accounts from the SPARs as well as remarks from the First Lady and pictures of the ceremony. You can also follow Northrup Grumman Shipbuilding on Twitter and watch the christening live here. The ceremony begins at 10:30 a.m. with the bottle break at about 11:15 a.m.
For more information, you can go to the cutter’s christening Website here.