USS Gabrielle Giffords To Be Commissioned In Texas
The USS Gabrielle Giffords will be commissioned in Galveston, Texas, on Saturday in a ceremony akin to the ship’s birthday.
Gabrielle Giffords is one of few civilians and even fewer women to share her name with a Navy warship.
“She’s in rare company. She realizes that and She’s incredibly honored,” said Gifford’s husband Mark Kelly by phone Thursday.
On the morning of Jan. 8, 2011, then-Congresswoman Giffords survived a Tucson shooting that killed six people and wounded 13 others during a meeting with constituents.
The ship is part of a relatively new era of Navy vessels called Littoral Combat Ships. Meant to zip through shallow water, the craft is 421 feet long and can detect mines, repel submarines and engage in surface warfare.
“It’s a very cool-looking ship and it’s a very capable ship,” said builder Austal’s USA President Craig Perciavalle.
The ship’s naming carries the weight of decades of Navy tradition. Often ships are named for places, famous battles and if named for a people, presidents or military heroes.
In 1776, a battleship was named for Martha Washington while she was still alive and there have been just 16th named for women since then, according to the Navy.
In his justification for naming the ship for Giffords, Ray Mabus, former Secretary of the Navy, said Giffords was being honored for her support of the military in Congress and character displayed in recovering from the 2011 shooting.
Her name is, ”synonymous with courage when she inspired the nation with remarkable resiliency and showed the possibilities of the human spirit,” Mabus said in a press release.
Giffords and Kelly will be joined by the ship’s sponsor, Jill Biden, Hillary Clinton, members of the ship’s crew and its leaders at the commissioning Saturday.
“A ship will often embody some of the characteristics of its namesake and Gabby’s somebody who is tough, she doesn’t give up,” Kelly said. “We expect that will be important to the crew of the USS Gabrielle Giffords.”