Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Lynch Officially Christens Ship; Former Army Private Sees Ship off before Maiden Trip

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Lynch Officially Christens Ship; Former Army Private Sees Ship off before Maiden Trip

Article excerpt

Byline: GREGORY RICHARDS, The Times-Union

First out of the hulking cruise ship came the Carnival employees, who made two rows lining a path between a door near the front of the Miracle and the dais beside the ship's bow.

Then slowly filtered out the guests of Carnival Cruise Lines, including a woman, who upon hearing the chorus of the Ritz Voices, promptly began dancing. An older man struggled to get his electric wheelchair down the step at the end of the gangplank.

And then, gently stepping foot onto the Jackonville Port Authority dock, was Jessica Lynch. The new ship's "godmother," she was there to officially name the vessel hours before it set sail Friday afternoon on its maiden voyage to the Bahamas on a three-day cruise.

Lynch, the most famous soldier of the Iraq war, was dressed in a light gray pantsuit, with a red corsage and pink and white sneakers. Her left arm was wrapped around the arm of the ship's captain for assistance, and they laughed as they walked the few hundred feet to the stage. Her right arm held a grey cane. They walked slowly, being led by an honor guard from the Florida Air National Guard.

The naming ceremony began with the Ritz Voices singing the national anthems of the United States and Finland, where the $375 million liner was crafted. Then Carnival President Robert Dickinson stood in front of the all-glass podium. He thanked seven Carnival employees who had served in the military during the Iraq war. He explained that maritime tradition requires that new ships be officially named before they can enter service.

"When she breaks the bottle against the ship's hull, the ship's godmother officially gives the vessel its name and symbolically bestows good luck and good wishes upon that vessel for her length of service," Dickinson said.

After remarks by Marty Fiorentino, chairman of the port authority, and a blessing by a priest, finally, it was Lynch. She received a standing ovation from the hundred or so people attending.

"I am so thrilled with this opportunity," the West Virginia native began. "When I arrived [Thursday] in Jacksonville I was thrilled to be back. …

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