The Dorothy Stratton legend lives on

The week’s events began Sunday at dawn when the cutter was launched into the water at the Northrop Grumman Pascagoula, Miss., shipyard. Photo courtesy of Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding.

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.

The traditional ceremony will include a keynote address from Michelle Obama, as the cutter’s sponsor, before the bottle is broken across the cutter’s bow.

“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 U.S. Coast Guard Stratton (WMSL 752) built by Northrop Grumman is the third of eight national security cutters. The ship will be christened on Friday, July 23 in Pascagoula, Miss. Photo courtesy of Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding.

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.

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7 Responses

  1. Jane Boswell says:

    My wonderful neighbor here in Lafayette, Indiana, BETTY LUTZ REED, a WWII vet, is one of the “the legendary SPARs” referred to in this article. She left for the christening yesterday, her 87th birthday! Betty enlisted while attending Purdue where Dorothy Stratton was Dean of Women. Betty served in New Orleans. We are all so happy that Betty can be part of this memorable event – thank you for honoring the SPARS!

  2. Melissa Kurtz says:

    My 87 year old mother-in-law was a S.P.A.R. during World War II, and she is at this wonderful event with her daughter, son (my husband) and granddaughter (our daughter).

  3. Vicki Marie says:

    We are so very proud of Betty Lutz Reed — our mother, mother-in-law, grandmother and most of all, proud and honored SPAR. We hope you are having the birthday of your life! xox your family in California

  4. barbara rowe says:

    We too celebrate the Cutter Stratton as it represents the historic debut of women into the service of the Coast Guard.
    On behalf of the Fabyan and Pavkovic families from Michigan, we also congratulate the Coast Guard on its many significant accomplishements.
    In 1943, Eleanor Pavkovic Fabyan, then living in Detroit, enlisted in the Spars. After serving her country during World War II, she married Navy veteran George Fabyan. Eleanor continued to keep in touch with the Spars she served with and was instrumental in bringing recognition to the Spars in Coast Guard City USA, Grand Haven, Michigan. In 2002, she was the Grand Marshall for the annual Coast Guard parade. For many years, Eleanor headed up the effort to bring as many Spars as possible to these festivities.
    Her prominant goal was to fly to Missisippi with daughters Cynthia and Deborah to attend the July 23 dedication of Cutter Stratton. Unfortuantely, that trip could not take place due to Eleanor’s sudden and serious ailment.
    Nevertheless, our dear and lovely Eleanor was present in spiirt at the dedication.
    Eleanor Pavkovic Fabyan was identified by her patriotic duty, dignity and fondness for the Spars.
    We honor the Coast Guard Cutter Stratton and the Spars.
    Semper Paratus!
    Love from Your Family and Friends

  5. Cynthia Fabyan says:

    My Mom, Eleanor Fabyan, loved being a SPAR. Her joy began at boot camp in Manhattan Beach where she trained as a yeoman, then it was on to Washington DC. Due to her failing health, we were unable to attend the christening. However, thanks to the Coast Guard, we were able to be there in spirit by watching the webcast. What a thrill to see the entire event from a computer hooked up in Mom’s room. On behalf of my sister, Deb Cizek and myself, we want to thank the Coast Guard and Northrup Grumman for keeping us informed and working to accommodate our needs.

  6. Christina McVea says:

    My mother, Roma McConnell Weir, was a SPAR during WWII. She attended boot camp in Manhattan Beach, NY and then served as a storekeeper. I have been fortunate to attend many wonderful events with my mother, honoring the SPARS. The Coast Guard & Northrop Grumman hosted a wonderful two days for the STRATTON christening with First Lady Michelle Obama as the sponsor. It was so wonderful that Mom could again connect with other SPARS & celebrate together. I was saddened also by the fact that so many beloved SPARS could not make it to this past christening. We so missed seeing our friend Eleanor Fabyan, but know she was with us in spirit. I am sure that Opal Utley was smiling down from Heaven on our celebrations! I am so proud of my mother & her accomplishments in her lifetime. It has been an honor to attend & meet so many SPARS & their families. SEMPER PARATUS!
    Love, Christina

  7. Alan Hinkel says:

    More Images of the Stratton can be found on SmugMug at under the Military and Civilian Ships Gallery.