The U.S. Navy and Huntington Ingalls Industries say CBS News erred in reporting that Ray Mabus, Navy secretary and former Mississippi governor, had switched the christening of the USS Portland from Pascagoula to Portland, Oregon, over a new Mississippi law criticized as sanctioning discrimination against gay people and others.
The USS Portland, an amphibious transport dock ship, will be christened in Pascagoula on May 21 and commissioned at a yet-to-be determined date in its namesake city of Portland, Huntington Ingalls said.
Nonetheless, disappointment in Mississippi’s religious-focused law signed by Gov. Phil Bryant April 5 will keep Portland Mayor Charlie Hales from coming to Pascagoula, where Ingalls Shipbuilding built the vessel.
“The First Lady and I were invited by the U.S. Secretary of the Navy to help christen the USS Portland in Mississippi. We were scheduled to go in May. We will not be taking that trip if that discriminatory law is not repealed. It would be a shame if the mayor of Portland couldn’t attend the christening of the USS Portland, but I will not travel to a state that legalizes bigotry.”
The Navy’s decision to hold the commissioning in Portland follows a tradition of commissioning ships in their namesake cities and had nothing to do with Mississippi’s controversial law, said Lt. Eric Durie, deputy public affairs officer with the Office of the Secretary of the Navy.
What was announced by the Navy on Monday was that the commissioning would be in Portland, Oregon, at a future date, said Beci Brenton, spokesperson for Huntington Ingalls Industries, parent of Ingalls Shipbuilding.
The Mississippi Business Journal published a story in its April 15 issue and on its website based on the CBS News report.
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