Michelle Obama smashes bubbly for ship christening

Published July 23, 2010

PASCAGOULA, Miss. – It took First Lady Michelle Obama two swings to smash open the sparkling wine she used to christen a ship in honor of the Coast Guard's first female commissioned officer.

The ceremony Friday just south of the Mississippi facility where the cutter was built drew about 3,000.

Obama praised Capt. Dorothy C. Stratton as a pioneer, saying: "I stand in awe of her life."

Stratton joined up during World War II and eventually oversaw more than 10,000 enlisted women and 1,000 commissioned officers. She earned the Legion of Merit before leaving the Coast Guard in 1946 and died in 2006.

The ship will be delivered next summer and patrol waters off northern California on two-month missions. It will be able to deploy two helicopters and smaller boats.

Written by SHELIA BYRD, Associated Press Writer

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