PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) -Shipbuilders and members of the Coast Guard were on hand for what’s called a keel authentication ceremony. Elmer Stone, who served in the early 1900′s was a hero to many, including his great niece, Laura Cavallo.
“I’m really proud. I’m really tickled. My family would be really honored, and my grandmother would have really loved this.”
And the Coast Guard loves this ship. Capt. Travis Carter is the commanding officer.
“This ship is an absolute gamechanger. For the missions the Coast Guard is doing right now, from migrant operations to law enforcement to enforcing high seas law.”
For the welder who did the honors of etching Stone’s initials on the steel plate, this will be a day he’ll always cherish. That’s how Demetrica Hawkins Jr. summed up the event.
“It means a great deal to me. Like you say, to be chosen from all the welders. I’m doing something right. And I want to thank the Navy to allow me to be a part of this ceremony, a part of history,” he said.
It was also a day to celebrate all the men and women working on this cutter for Kari Wilkinson, the vice-president of programs.
“I think the thing I appreciate most about a day like this is we all come together and take a minute to pause and reflect on the accomplishments of that entire team. Working together to put another asset into the fleet, our country needs these ships,” he said.
It’s somewhat ironic that on the same day this keel authentication ceremony is taking place at Ingalls, the Coast Guard is getting ready to help those in need on the Carolina coast, being battered by Florence.
That’s the word from Carter.
“We have actually two sister ships that are stationed in Charleston right now. I just got word this morning. They got underway to avoid the storm, so they can be ready when the storm does pass to come and offer assistance to to those people that need assistance.”
And when Cutter Stone finally hits the water, she will be ready to assist as well.
The Stone will carry a crew of 120, have a range of 12-thousand miles, and will be able to stay at sea for 60 days.