Home / Robert Farley / USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS-10)

USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS-10)


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:

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.

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  • Warren Terra

    She isn’t dead; it isn’t even certain that her career in politics is dead. Surely those would suffice to discourage this name for the ship (the former would also discourage the naming of the USS George HW Bush, but at least she was commissioned only once her namesake was a dozen years into retirement and his eponymous son was ten days away from retirement.

    • John

      1993+12 = 2005. ?

    • Sunvalley9

      Normally naming a warship after a defenseless woman who was shot in the head does not inspire. However, the LCS is so defenseless it is appropriate. After a major hit the ship is designed to stay afloat long enough to allow the crew to abandon ship.

  • Mark Centz

    Living people, like dead apartheidist Congressfolk, should be outside the pale. Also, parks, buildings and other facilities. Thank goodness cities are off the list, I’d hate to live in Reagantown, Reagan City, Reaganton, Reaganville, or Ille de Reagan.

    Not quite on topic- the ship name I want to see is the USS Taffy 3.

  • Jim Lynch

    Paraphrase from a Simpson’s episode:

    Homer: “Are we going to land on an aircraft carrier”?

    Chopper Pilot: “Sir, no sir. We’re landing on the USS Mondale, a laundry ship”.

  • Jager

    Best boat name I’ve ever seen, FUJIKI! The name of a sailboat we raced against from time to time. Asked the owner what it meant, he said he named it after his nasty divorce was finalized, Fuck You Judy I’m Keeping It!

    I’m certain we could work up some interesting ship names using that kind of thinking!

    • Davis X. Machina

      I knew a guy who had the two hulls of his catamaran named separately, and in mock-fraktur — Scharnhorst and Gneisenau.

  • Good thing there’s no ribald pun opportunities with “littoral.”

  • DocAmazing

    Unfortunately, the maintenance requirements are high: you need a surgical crew to clean the head.

    • Stag Party Palin

      That is cold!

      Personally, I’d like to see one of our larger ships named the Fat Floating Fuck and then have the punditariat try to figure out which one of them it was actually named for.

  • Amanda in the South Bay

    Just go back to the WW2/immediate post-war period practice of naming ships. Not too long ago, prior to fucking JFK, the Navy had a decent ship naming scheme. Really, AFAIK he was the first celebrity politician to have a ship named after him. Then, a few years later, it was Nimitz.

    Really, rather than Giffords, how about naming more ships after injured Afghanistan/Iraq veterans? Surely a better choice. How about that Marine just awarded the MOH?

    • Chris

      USS Wright
      USS Franklin D. Roosevelt
      USS Forrestal

      and USS Shangri-La, as it’s own thing off in the corner somewhere.

      All four were before 1968’s commissioning of CV-67. So no, JFK doesn’t mark the first time a ship was named for a politician. However, she did mark the beginning of the all-political figure all the time carrier naming scheme.

      As Rickover said when asked why the -688’s were going to be named after cities, breaking a 25 year tradition of submarines named after marine creatures, “Fish don’t vote.”

      • Amanda in the South Bay

        Yeah, but the 688s weren’t immediately post WW2 either. Wright was named after an aviation pioneer, and the other two were one-offs after deaths. Clearly, prior to the 60s, there was a decent naming tradition.

        • rea

          Having 2 USS Langleys (and there was actually patent litigation over whether Langley or the Wright brothers invented the airplane), they needed to have a USS Wright.

        • rea

          And, note how JFK follows the traditional exception of naming after recently deceased politicians. It wasn’t until Reagan and Bush that they started naming them after living people.

      • rea

        Shangri-La actually commemorated the Doolittle raid on Tokyo

        Independence is a perfectly honorable, traditional name–5 prior navy ships, including a couple of rather distinguished ones.

        And if anyone deserved an aircraft carrier named after him, it was Nimitz.

        • DocAmazing

          It almost makes up for the truly horrible freeway named for Nimitz in the East Bay.

    • Murc

      I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; we need to just let artists and writers name our ships. We could do far worse than to emulate the ship names from the Halo games. A sampling:

      UNSC Spirit of Fire
      UNSC All Under Heaven
      UNSC Forward Unto Dawn
      UNSC Pillar of Autumn
      UNSC Two For Flinching

      Now THOSE are badass ship names, ones you wouldn’t mind seeing on the news or emblazoned twenty feet high on a hull somewhere. We should hold our ACTUAL ships to the same standard we hold our fictional ships.

      • Mark Centz

        Those even top the Brits ship naming conventions, which beat our all to hell. Yeah, let’s do that.

        Chris, the Shangri-La. could be said to be fully within the naming convention for CVs, which were named for battles. the Dolittle Raid, aka 30 seconds over Tokyo, was said by Roosevelt to have been launched from Shangri-La, so the name referenced the raid, the most morale-building battle of the Pacific War before Midway. And poetic to boot.

        • Murc

          Chris, the Shangri-La. could be said to be fully within the naming convention for CVs, which were named for battles.

          Uh… what? Enterprise, Wasp, Hornet, Intrepid, Ranger. And that’s just off the top of my head. The modern convention (post-1968) is admirals or politicians and before that they seemed to have just named them any old thing. Do you have an authoritative source that it was a convention to name CVs after battles?

          • Dave

            Jesus fecking christ, why are you dipshits arguing about things that a visit to wikipedia will resolve? The US Navy used a mixture of historical names and battle names, up to and including the CV-60 Saratoga, with a light sprinking of ‘prestige’ names [Roosevelt, Wright].

            I am partial to the implication above that Nimitz was named after a celebrity politician, but perhaps that’s just bad phrasing.

            • Murc

              First of all, I question what Mark and I have said that is so offensive to you you feel it requires personal insults. That was unwarranted.

              Second of all, I actually checked wikipedia, which does NOT, in fact, provide any sort of dispositive answer as to what the pre-1968 naming conventions for CVs are in their page on US Navy naming conventions.

              Now, having drilled down somewhat more, it would appear that there is a consensus that before the modern tradition emerged, it was something of a preference to name CVs after battles. But I question calling that a ‘convention’ when it appears that they were actually in a minority, especially among big fleet carriers.

              • rea

                Part of the problems was, they built so many darn carriers in WWII that they ran out of historic ship names and victorious battles. USS Cowpens, for example, was clearly scraping the bottom of the name barrel.

                • Murc

                  I recall hearing that at one point they actually considered just numbering escort carriers, like PT boats. They’d have an identification number and that’d be it.

      • Warren Terra
        • Dave

          Well, who doesn’t, but the US Govt doesn’t do irony. At least not intentionally.

        • Hogan

          The Andromeda TV series once mentioned a ship called the SS Continuation of Politics.

    • wengler

      Note that naming ships after politicians started as the defense establishment got on its feet.

    • John

      What on earth is wrong with naming a carrier after the most important American admiral in the largest war America ever fought?

      Beyond that, ships have been named for famous naval officers practically forever. Dates of the first ships named for various famous American naval officers:

      USS Lawrence – 1813
      USS Decatur – 1840
      USS Perry – 1843
      USS Paul Jones – 1862
      USS Commodore Hull – 1862
      USS Farragut – 1889
      USS Macdonough – 1900
      USS Stockton – 1901
      USS Barry – 1902
      USS Gridley – 1922
      USS Dewey – 1934 (or 1905, if you count floating dry docks)

  • Tom M

    I served on the Butte and we seldom left Norfolk without someone painting out the “e”.

    • Warren Terra

      You’d think someone would occasionally paint on an “r”, just for variety.

      • Bill Murray

        that was reserved for painting on the guns

  • rea

    Maybe when Santorum is elected, we can go with saints and religious concepts like the Spanish used to–Santissima Trinidad would be a great name for a carrier.

    • UberMitch

      She’ll rule the frothy seas!

  • Paul

    “in part because the LCS is essentially unkillable at this point”

    On a more serious note I don’t see that as true whatever name they give them.

    If they were still cheap maybe, but they are not and they just do do any job they are supposed to to well. Given that all to many other ships are more important CVs new Marine landing ships, anti ballistic missile ships, subs I betting they get axed when push comes to shove.

  • UberMitch

    I toured the Freedom at Fleet Week San Diego the other year. The computers in the CIS appeared to be running Microsoft Windows XP, which I found worrisome.

    Also, they had a Roomba on board with a label attached to it giving it a name an a BM3 rate and rating, as I recall. Adorable!

    • wengler

      It will demand its rum ration.

  • wengler

    Stop naming ships after living people.

    Amended: Stop naming ships after people.

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  • Mike Schilling

    Littoral Combat Ship

    Is that the opposite of a virtual combat ship?

    • ajay

      That would be a Metaphorical Combat Ship. Crewed by combat epistemologists, like Mo O’Brien.

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