Keel laying ceremony held to mark progress on Navy ship

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - A ceremony was held Friday afternoon to mark the completion of the keel for the latest Navy ship being constructed, LPD 27 Portland.

The ship's sponsor, Bonnie Amos, was there to place her mark on the vessel. Amos has dedicated her life to serving the Marines and their families.

"I fell in love with Marine families and all the sacrifices they do each and every day," Bonnie Amos said.

Her husband, General James Amos, is the US Marine Corps Commandant. He said, "Those big macho Marines we have, they melt when my wife comes around."

Bonnie Amos goes with her husband on all his missions. She even spent this past Christmas in Afghanistan with the troops, instead of at home with their family.

"They hadn't had a bath in 30 or 40 days, and she's up there hugging them wishing them a Merry Christmas, and telling them to call or write home," General Amos said.

Bonnie Amos takes her job as the First Lady of the Marines very seriously, even though she does not get paid a dime. Her dedication and love for the military is why the Secretary of the Navy asked her to be the sponsor of the latest Navy ship being built at Ingalls Shipbuilding.

Bonnie Amos said, "I think it was words of, 'Are you kidding me? Yes! The answer is yes! Absolutely yes!'"

General Amos said, "Usually, wherever I go, everybody is paying attention to me because of the job I've got. But to be able to take my wife and put her at center stage and uplift her in front and to be the guy in the back cheering her on is a treat."

With a few sparks, Bonnie Amos helped weld her initials into the keel plaque marking the completion of the keel. As construction continues for the next several years, she plans to play a role in the ship that will one day carry the men and women who mean so much to her.

"I will give support, love, letters and cookies and visits. I hope to pay lots of visits," Bonnie Amos said. "One of the great honors is the fact we know it is going to carry Marines and Sailors and our aircraft, so that makes me doubly proud that part of what I do is represented on the ship in the future."

The ship is named Portland and is expected to be finished and delivered to the Navy in late 2017.

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