First Lady Michelle Obama Commissions the USCGC Stratton

First Lady Michelle Obama arrives at the ceremony to commission the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Stratton (April 1, 2012)

First Lady Michelle Obama is escorted to the stage by Sr. Chief David Stephens at the start of a ceremony to commission the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Stratton at Alameda Coast Guard Station in Alameda, Calif., March 31, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Sonya N. Hebert)

On Saturday, the U.S. Coast Guard commissioned its newest cutter -- the USCGC Stratton. First Lady Michelle Obama is the ship's sponsor. Nearly two years ago, she christened the Stratton by breaking a bottle of champagne against its hull, and this weekend, she was on hand for the ceremony to mark the start of the ship's service.

The cutter is named after Captain Dorothy Stratton -- the first woman to serve in women's reserve of the Coast Guard in World War II. A former professor at Purdue University, she organized the reserve and gave the group its nickname -- SPARs, a combination of the Coast Guard motto, "Semper Paratus" and its English translation, "Always Ready."

More than 40 veterans of the SPARs were on hand for this weekend's ceremony, and in recognizing their service, the First Lady said, "These women are heroes.  They served this country so bravely, and broke so many barriers. They paved the way for generations of women who came after them, and they helped build a world where young women all across America -- young women like my daughters -- to know that they can become anything they can imagine, even an admiral."

First Lady Michelle Obama at the ceremony to commission the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Stratton (April 1, 2012)

First Lady Michelle Obama listens as U.S. Coast Guard Admiral Robert Papp delivers remarks during a ceremony to commission the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Stratton at Alameda Coast Guard Station in Alameda, Calif., March 31, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Sonya N. Hebert)

The USCGC Stratton will begin patrols in the Pacific later this month. For more information, check out this blog post from the U.S. Coast Guard.

Related Topics: Veterans, Women, California
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