Giffords Has Navy Ship Named in Her Honor

WASHINGTON, Feb. 10, 2012 — For­mer Ari­zona Rep. Gabrielle Gif­fords today heard Navy Sec­re­tary Ray Mabus announce that the newest ship in the Navy inven­to­ry will be named in her hon­or.

The Navy’s fifth Inde­pen­dence-vari­ant lit­toral com­bat ship, 10th in the LCS series, will be com­mis­sioned as the USS Gabrielle Gif­fords, Mabus said dur­ing a cer­e­mo­ny in the Pentagon’s cen­ter court­yard.

“You make this occa­sion spe­cial by your pres­ence,” Mabus told Gif­fords. “What you did in Con­gress for our mil­i­tary, and for those who serve in it, gave sub­stance to what Amer­i­ca feels for those in uni­form.”

Lit­toral com­bat ships are a major part of the Navy’s future, capa­ble of “an amaz­ing vari­ety of mis­sions,” and one of the sea service’s most ver­sa­tile, valu­able ships, the sec­re­tary said.

“The name this ship bears, and the sto­ry rep­re­sent­ed by that name, will inspire all those who come in con­tact with her,” he said, not­ing that Gif­fords serves as a liv­ing exam­ple of the Navy’s mot­to of “Sem­per For­tis” — “Always Coura­geous.”

“Unwa­ver­ing courage has defined the Navy for 236 years, and it is what we expect and what we demand from our sailors every sin­gle day,” Mabus said. “So it’s very appro­pri­ate that LCS 10 be named for some­one who has become syn­ony­mous with courage, who has inspired the nation … and showed the pos­si­bil­i­ties of the human spir­it.”

Gif­fords was shot in the head in an appar­ent assas­si­na­tion attempt dur­ing a pub­lic event in Tuc­son, Ariz., in Jan­u­ary 2011. She was one of 13 peo­ple wound­ed, while six oth­ers were killed. She is a Navy spouse whose hus­band, astro­naut Mark Kel­ly, retired from the Navy in 2011. Gif­fords stepped down from her seat rep­re­sent­ing Arizona’s 8th con­gres­sion­al dis­trict in Jan­u­ary, say­ing she need­ed time to recov­er.

Mabus also announced today the ship’s spon­sor will be Rox­an­na Green. Green, who also attend­ed the cer­e­mo­ny, is the moth­er of Christi­na-Tay­lor Green, a 9-year-old girl who was killed at the event where Gif­fords was shot.

Mabus explained that a ship’s spon­sor chris­tens the ves­sel with cham­pagne at its launch and gives the order to bring the ship to life when it is com­mis­sioned.

Christi­na-Tay­lor Green had just been elect­ed to the stu­dent coun­cil and want­ed to become “a more active par­tic­i­pant in our democ­ra­cy,” the sec­re­tary said.

“Rox­an­na Green con­tin­ues to express her daughter’s hope for the future,” Mabus added, “and as the pres­i­dent said, of ‘a nation as good as she imag­ined.’ ”

Gif­fords and Green “will be a part of the life of this ship, and our Navy’s his­to­ry,” he said.

Kel­ly and for­mer Mis­souri Rep. Ike Skel­ton, for­mer chair­man of the House Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee, also were present at today’s cer­e­mo­ny. They, along with Gif­fords and Green, met with Defense Sec­re­tary Leon E. Panet­ta and oth­er DOD lead­ers before the event.

Ear­li­er today, Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma signed into law Gif­fords’ last piece of leg­is­la­tion, the Ultra­light Air­craft Smug­gling Pre­ven­tion Act of 2012.

“This bill gives our nation’s law enforce­ment expand­ed author­i­ty to com­bat illic­it drug traf­fick­ing on our North­ern and South­ern bor­ders,” Oba­ma said. “Being able to sign it next to my friend Gab­by Gif­fords gives me enor­mous pride.”

The pres­i­dent added while the leg­is­la­tion may have been her last act as a con­gress­woman, “it will not be her last act of pub­lic ser­vice.”

The LCS 10 is part of a dual block buy of LCS-class ships Mabus announced in Decem­ber 2010. The ship will be 419 feet long, have a water­line beam of 103 feet, dis­place about 3,000 tons, and will make speed in excess of 40 knots.

Lit­toral com­bat ships are designed to oper­ate in near-shore envi­ron­ments against “anti-access” threats such as mines, qui­et diesel sub­marines and fast sur­face craft. The ships are also capa­ble of open-ocean oper­a­tion.

The LCS class con­sists of two vari­ants, the Free­dom and the Inde­pen­dence, designed and built by teams led, respec­tive­ly, by Lock­heed Mar­tin and Gen­er­al Dynam­ics.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)