The United States Navy has named a new Littoral Combat Ship, and Spencer is displeased:
So. You’ve got a clunker — a floating Bradley Fighting Vehicle — that you’ve invested much of your future in buying. Might there be a national hero and symbol of resilience to name it after? Maybe a member of Congress, even? Someone that, by association, would make a legislator who questions the value or utility of the LCS shut up, real fast?
After all, no one wants the headline, “Senator Bashes Gabrielle Giffords” — let alone “Senator SLASHES Gabrielle Giffords.” It’s all in the game, Mr. Mabus, so I suppose I can’t hate the player. But what happens when a mine disables the Gabrielle Giffords?
First, while the decision to name the ship Gabrielle Giffords undoubtedly has something to do with a desire to protect the program from cancellation, I don’t think anyone expects it have much effect, in part because the LCS is essentially unkillable at this point, at least if the Navy wants to have more than 250 ships in the future. Gabrielle Giffords is cynical in the same way that Henry M. Jackson, Carl Vinson, John C. Stennis, Ronald Reagan, and George H.W. Bush are cynical; indeed, the Navy has played the name angle hard since before it started naming battleships after states. Notably, naming practice didn’t save the USS United States (CVA-58).
Here’s the naming list for the LCS thus far:
- USS Freedom (LCS-1)
- USS Independence (LCS-2)
- USS Fort Worth (LCS-3)
- USS Coronado (LCS-4)
- USS Milwaukee (LCS-5)
- USS Jackson (LCS-6)
- USS Detroit (LCS-7)
- USS Montgomery (LCS-8)
- USS Little Rock (LCS-9)
- USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS-10)
The first two names were clearly “cynical” in the sense of “who would hate Liberty and Freedom?”, but they were also quite cheesy, and I’m not sure that anyone thinks that they were very important to the survival of the class. I would generally prefer that the Navy pick a naming scheme for a ship type and stick to it (attack subs=cities, aircraft carriers=Presidents, boomers=states, cruisers=battles), but that ship has sailed, so to speak. And given that we’ve named two 90000 ton nuclear aircraft carriers after white supremacist Southern Senators, I’m not too worked up about naming a 2800 ton frigate-like-thing after Gabrielle Giffords.