In Honoring Giffords Mabus’ Flouts Navy Ship Naming Conventions Again

Since President Obama took office, his Navy Secretary, Ray Mabus has been, shall we say flexible in following the conventions of Navy ship naming that have been set down. He has strayed tradition enough to have prompted a review of ship-naming policy. And he has done it again.
Now Mabus has named a new vessel after retiring Representative Gabrielle Giffords. The logic behind this is difficult to take issue with–except it still flies in the face of past precedent. The Giffords will be an LCS, a littoral combat ship (these are pretty cool looking ships!), which have been named (with the exception of the first two) for smaller cities; a convention Mabus followed until now.
Ship naming has always been subject to some level of politicization. There is a Virginia-class attack submarine named after former senator John Warner and the aircraft carriers are usually named after presidents except when they’re not! Then there is the Bob Hope Class of vehicle cargo ships which are all named for individuals who have received the Medal of Honor (as are several other AKR class vessels). Well, except for Mr. Hope of course. Another example of inconsistency more familiar to Rhode Islanders would be the Seawolf class attack submarines named Seawolf, Connecticut and Jimmy Carter.
Yet, these exceptions have occurred over a period of years and decades. Mabus is set apart because he has a pretty high batting average in flouting ship naming conventions during his 3 years as Navy Secretary. Mabus started his tenure by naming a San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship–traditionally named after cities–after the recently deceased Democratic Representative John Murtha.
Next up is the T-AKE Class of naval support vessels, the Lewis and Clark Class, which had been named after explorers and pioneers*–until Mabus took office. Then the Medgar Evars and Cesar Chavez were named to join the likes of Sacagawea, Alan Shepard, Amelia Earhart, Mathew Perry, Washington Chambers et al. In his defense, Mabus’ supporters argue that Chavez, a Navy veteran, was a “pioneering” organizer of migrant farm workers. While it’s harder to criticize Mabus for naming the Evers (also a Navy veteran), it is pretty clear that he has broadened the original definition of pioneer since the keels were first laid for this class of ships. Overall, I counted 4 out of 7 ships that have been named by Mabus that didn’t appear to follow prior convention. Is this going to sink the Navy? No. Yet, it does appear to be an unprecedented level of politicization by one Navy Secretary.
*Incidentally, the description of the AKE class naming convention has been “retcon’d”: there are a lot of articles supporting Mabus saying these ships were originally to be named after explorers, pioneers and “visionaries.” The “visionary” qualification is a recent appellation. The original intent was to name them only after explorers.

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Dan
Dan
9 years ago

Now all they need is an enemy to fight…

brassband
brassband
9 years ago

Ships, buildings, highways, bridges, etc. . . should only be named after deceased persons.

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
9 years ago

When my father was in the Navy, they still had Filipino stewards/cabin boys, things do change.
But, “Chavez”???

Phil
Phil
9 years ago

Ah, the good old days. Now they’ve gotten rid of the Filipino cabin boys, forced the country clubs to take in all kinds of people and all this talk of equality. Now this?
Throwing out all the old rules and making new ones? When will it ever stop?

Marc
Marc
9 years ago

Dan- Yeah, we never need the Navy, you’re right…
Warrington/Phil- Obviously there is a bit of a difference in the depth of importance between desegregating the Navy and straying from vessel naming conventions.

Dan
Dan
9 years ago

Most of the “terrorists” i.e. insurgents we are fighting halfway around the world have never even seen the ocean.

Sammy in Arizona
Sammy in Arizona
9 years ago

President Obama has also honored Daniel Hernandez, who was credited with saving Gabrielle Giffords life . Within hours of the Tucson tragedy, the idiots on right-wing radio outed Daniel as a gay man, The right-wing hate-mongers have been on the attack ever since. I must have heard the comment 1000 times
“”Arizonans don’t want or need a queer hero””
and even more outrageous comments
(not printable here) that would probably even make Tommy Cranston and Steve Laffey cringe

Sammy in Arizona
Sammy in Arizona
9 years ago

President Obama has also honored Daniel Hernandez, who was credited with saving Gabrielle Giffords life . Within hours of the Tucson tragedy, the idiots on right-wing radio outed Daniel as a gay man, The right-wing hate-mongers have been on the attack ever since. I must have heard the comment 1000 times
“”Arizonans don’t want or need a queer hero””
and even more outrageous comments
(not printable here) that would probably even make Tommy Cranston and Steve Laffey cringe

Dan
Dan
9 years ago

Good troll, Sammy. As always.
Sometimes I wonder why Justin removes the “Get free Cialis NOW” robo-spam posts but leaves your troll comments intact. There is a certain point at which content is so degraded that it is no longer really content at all.

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
9 years ago

I’m amazed that Phil and sammy(separated at birth?)can get worked up over conditions in the Navy or naming ships when neither has ever spent a day in the military service-if I’m wrong,apologies in advance.
BTW I didn’t need a ‘right wing extremist”to tell me Hernandez was gay-it was obvious in his case-it didn’t detract from his bravery.

Phil
Phil
9 years ago

Most of the “terrorists” i.e. insurgents we are fighting halfway around the world have never even seen the ocean.
Posted by Dan at February 11, 2012 9:13 AM
But some of them have met SEAL Team 6.

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
9 years ago

Most of the “terrorists” i.e. insurgents we are fighting halfway around the world have never even seen the ocean.
Posted by Dan at February 11, 2012
“Projection of power” and “sea lift” are almost impossible with sea power. I think more than a few terrorists have felt the sting of carrier based aircraft.
While large armies may be a thing of the past, we do use sea power to keep the Chinese and Indians worried. Unfortunately, the Indians have taken to playing “chicken” with our warships. Sooner,or later, this will lead to something. They are “inching” us.

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
9 years ago

are almost impossible with sea power.
Should read:
are almost impossible without sea power.

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
9 years ago

Sea power is an absolute requirement for US parity in Asia.
We cannot get into another Asian land war-Korea and Vietnam should have taught us that.
The is a lot of noise being generated about the Chinese navy-they have ONE refurbished obsolescent former Soviet carrier and are building a carrier scheduled to enter service in 2020.
We have lots of carriers,cruisers,destroyers,frigates,etc.Not to mention a large modern nuclear submarine fleet.
The Chinese Navy is not in a position to project military power very far from their coastal waters and the South China Sea.
The Japanese Navy is a major concern of China’s.It should be.The Japanese have a history of superior naval competence.
In 1894-5 the Japanese totally erased Chinese naval forces at the Battle of the Yalu during the first Sino-Japanese War.The Chinese still have resentmants stemming from that and the later depradations Japan inflicted on them.
The South Korean and Taiwanese also have navies that concern.India too.
See how complicated this allgets?
But the lamestream media think that showng a few photos of a carrier that doesn’t measure up to the least of ours is a way to get the public all worked up.
People need to research beyond the headlines-in the Internet Age it’s not that hard.

Dan
Dan
9 years ago

Joe – Why does the US need “parity” in Asia? Should China and Japan have “parity” in North America?

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
9 years ago

Like it or not,we have interests in Asia.
China and Japan certainly have interests here in the US economic structure.

Dan
Dan
9 years ago

Joe – I do like that we have “interests” in China. I think our Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Korean, and Taiwanese trade partnerships are wonderful for world prosperity and the spread of democracy. I don’t see why this requires maintaining a huge standing fleet of carriers, destroyers, and nuclear submarines like we’re gearing up for a 20th-century World War against these allies. North Korea is a pathetic, starving joke and would be wiped off the map by Japan, China, and South Korea the moment it stepped foot in the DMZ. Let’s stop bogging down our bankrupt country’s economy by paying 2 million people to wait around in trillions of dollars worth of machinery and foreign infrastructure producing nothing every year.

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
9 years ago

Dan-check out “The Influence of Seapower Upon History”-it’s not fast reading,but very interesting.
It was written many,many years ago by Admiral A.T.Mahan.The points he made,particularly the one defining the difference between “sea powers”a nd “naval powers”are still valid today.

Aldo
Aldo
9 years ago

Navy ship to be named for Gabrielle Giffords? What is happening to our Nation? Our History? Our Heritage? A US Navy Surface Combatant named for Rep Gabrielle Giffords? Come on now! This is Political Correctness pushed to an extreme. What happened to Rep Giffords was tragic. I understand that she served on the House Armed Forces Committee; her husband is a Naval Officer etc. But give me a break! Most Navy Combatants were usually named after Navy or USMC heroes. The warships that proudly bore their names took great pride in the exploits as many had been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, Navy Cross etc. The exploits of Marines like Frank S. Reasoner, John Basilone and David M. Shoup are legendary and part of Marine Corps History! Navy heroes like Doris “Dorie” Miller, Chaplains Vincent R. Capodanno and Joseph T. O’Callaghan also inspired not just the sailors who served in the ships named after them, but all sailors. “In a statement, the Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, described Giffords and Roxanna Green as “sources of great inspiration” who “represent the Navy and Marine Corps qualities of overcoming, adapting and coming out victoriously despite great challenges.” Really now. John Basilone won the Medal of Honor for heroism on Guadalcanal. “Manila John” was later killed in action protecting “his” Marines on Iwo Jima in an action which earned him the Navy Cross. Father Joseph O’Callaghan, LTjg, USNR was serving in USS Franklin when the ship was attacked on March 19, 1945. O’Callaghan ministered to the wounded and dying, organized sailors in carrying hot bombs and shells to the edge of the deck for jettisoning, and personally led over 700 crewmen from below decks to safety. For this action he was awarded the Medal of Honor. Father Vincent Capodanno, Lt, USNR,… Read more »

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
9 years ago

How about the USS Thomas P.Noonan Jr?
He was a friend of mine who recieved the Medal of Honor posthumously during Operation Dewey Canyon in Vietnam in 1969.
I was there(Vietnam)at the time and saw his name on the casualty list in “Stars and Stripes”-little did I know at that moment what he had done.
Gabrielle Giffords?She was shot by a lunatic and survived.Not 100% for sure,but she can walk and talk.
That doesn’t rate having a ship named for her.
Maybe this jerkoff president can name a ship for Saul Alinsky-perhaps an armored garbage scow.

riborn
riborn
9 years ago

“Let’s stop bogging down our bankrupt country’s economy by paying 2 million people to wait around in trillions of dollars worth of machinery and foreign infrastructure producing nothing every year.”
Producing nothing? Compared to what? To what the writer produces?
Written like someone who never served and knows squat about the U.S. Navy and/or the U.S. armed services.
It’s sad that Giffords ended up the way she did, but it doesn’t make her a “hero”. It also doesn’t mean the crew will call it the Giffords.

Dan
Dan
9 years ago

Riborn – The military does not “produce” anything with very limited exceptions, and the crowding out and opportunity costs of military spending far outweigh those exceptions. It does protect what our society produces, but at least 80% of the spending is overkill to deter any actual threats to the survival of our country. If you believe we are the policemen of the world, then that might be a different matter.
The “you haven’t served” argument is a pathetic logical fallacy. I’m always surprised when it is trotted out because it is so clearly irrelevant to anything, but I guess I shouldn’t be at this point.

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