PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - When the future U.S.S. Portland is christened at Ingalls Shipyard next month, the mayor of the namesake city will not be there. Mayor Charlie Hales will follow city policy that prohibits spending public money on travel to states or cities with discriminatory policies.
Hales' decision to skip the trip to Pascagoula is a direct result of Gov. Phil Bryant signing of HB1523.
Wednesday, the Portland City Council is expected to pass a resolution that reiterates the city's travel ban and criticizes Mississippi's law as "disheartening and frustrating to see significant achievements on individual rights pushed backward." The Portland City Council passed a similar resolution last week in reaction to a North Carolina law that addresses gender-specific bathroom use.
"If the law is repealed, he would attend," said Sara Hottman, Communications Director for Hales.
Hales and his wife were invited to the Portland's christening ceremony by U.S. Secretary of the Navy and former Mississippi Gov. Ray Mabus. As significant as the christening ceremony is for Portland, Hottman said the trip had nostalgic appeal for Hales because the mayor's uncle worked at the Pascagoula shipyard for several years.
The Portland (LPD 27) will be the third Navy ship to carry that city's name. The San Antonio class amphibious transport vessel has been under construction at Ingalls Shipyard since 2013. It is scheduled to begin its acceptance trials Wednesday. The ship will be commissioned in 2017 in Portland.