Thursday, January 12, 2017

Governor Phil Bryant, members of the Commission on Marine Resources, state representatives, and others made this a great event with their attendance.
Blessing and naming the AMBAR marine patrol vessel, custom built for offshore missions was one of the main agenda items.

Marine Patrol Chief Keith Davis spoke about the purchase of the custom AMBAR as a project of MDMR's Joint Enforcement Agreement with the federal government.

Chief Davis set out to name the vessel after Governor Phil Bryant who has shown support for MDMR's mission to Enhance*Protect*Conserve by backing several initiatives including the Governor's Oyster Council, and the State-Federal Joint Enforcement Agreement.
Before he could be surprised by the unveiling of the marine patrol vessel's name, Governor Bryant suggested naming it for U.S. Navy Admiral George Dewey. That turned out to be a fantastic compromise when it was disclosed that the Governor himself is in fact named after the Admiral, as was his father.
Dewey Phillip "Phil" Bryant has served as Mississippi's 64th governor since 2012.

Joe Jewell, MDMR's director of the Office of Marine Fisheries spoke about the Conservationist, an oyster lugger acquired by the state in 1974 for only $80,000. In 2014, the lugger experienced mechanical failure and a $30,000 Tidelands grant was awarded to make repairs. The retail value of a boat like the Conservationist in 2017 is estimated to be around $1.2 million.

Good as new, the Conservationist is an asset to the state of Mississippi. Useful for moving oysters from unharvestable areas, to reefs that are safer for the mollusk or for human consumption, it can haul around 1,200 sacks at a time.

The respectable Reverend Kenneth Davis, pastor of Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church, blessed both vessels, and champagne was poured on them as part of the ceremonial ship launching.

Traditionally, the champagne bottles are broken on the ship, but for concern of littering the port with glass shards, officials opted for spraying the vessels with the champagne instead.

The Reverend specifically asked God for protection for all aboard and prosperity for every mission. After a blessing like that, the natural next step was to break them in! Governor Phil Bryant and others took a short tour in the Admiral Dewey, venturing not too far from port. Observers boarded the Conservationist.

In lieu of life jackets for this special event....

... together with the prayers, these made do!

Mississippi DMR thanks the U.S. Coast Guard officials at Singing River Island for hosting this momentous occasion.

The Mississippi Department of Marine Resources is dedicated to enhancing, protecting and conserving marine interests of the state by managing all marine life, public trust wetlands, adjacent uplands and waterfront areas to provide for the optimal commercial, recreational, educational and economic uses of these resources consistent with environmental concerns and social changes. Visit the DMR online at

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