(WASHINGTON) — Two years and two whacks of a champagne bottle after she first christened it, first lady Michelle Obama will on Saturday formally commission the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Stratton, a ship she sponsored as part of her Joining Forces initiative.
Obama will attend a ceremony on Coast Guard Island in Alameda, Calif., marking the beginning of active service for the Stratton, the White House announced. Officials said the vessel will patrol the coastline and conduct missions necessary for national defense.
“As the ship’s sponsor, the first lady will ceremonially give the order to bring the ship to life, at which time the crew will board the Stratton with much fanfare,” the White House said in a statement.
The ship is named after Capt. Dorothy Stratton, who led the 11,000-strong Coast Guard Women’s Reserve during World War II. The first lady is expected to meet with women veterans who served alongside Stratton during her visit.
“As a woman, and as a mother of two daughters, as an American, I stand in awe of her life of service,” Mrs. Obama said in 2010. “And after all these years later, all of us — whether you’re a woman or a man, Coast Guard or another service, whether you’re military or civilian — every American can be inspired by her example.”
Mrs. Obama christened the unfinished ship by breaking a champagne bottle across the hull — a well-worn tradition — during a Pascgoula, Miss., ceremony in July 2010. No champagne will be involved in the commissioning.
Obama’s West Coast trip will also include a campaign fundraiser and participation in the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards, where she will honor singer-songwriter Taylor Swift for her recent outreach to victims of tornadoes and floods.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Kathryn Vasel, CNN
Faith Karimi and Chuck Johnston, CNN