Delaware’s namesake submarine was a long time coming

 Jill Biden (left), Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, Sen. Tom Carper and Lt. Gov. Matt Denn attend the announcement at the Pentagon.

Jill Biden (left), Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, Sen. Tom Carper and Lt. Gov. Matt Denn attend the announcement at the Pentagon.  /  William H. McMichael/The News Journal


// // // On Apr. 13, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus announced that the next five Virginia-class attack submarines would be named Illinois, Washington, Colorado, Indiana and South Dakota. He said that none of those states had had a ship named after them “for more than 49 years.” Of those five, only two, Washington and Illinois, have a significant U.S. Navy presence.

Actually, it was more than 60 years – 65, to be precise. So someone gave Mabus some bad information or wasn’t sure and was really fudging it with that phrase. According to the press release, the battleship USS Indiana was decommissioned in October 1963. It was sold for scrapping in September 1963. But it was decommissioned in September 1947 – 65 years ago.

That means Newark’s Steven Llanso had the time lapse right in his April 18 letter to The News Journal editor noting that in announcing the new submarine names, the Navy had missed an obvious candidate in Delaware – an oversight remedied Monday. Llanso’s letter, Delaware’s congressional delegation said, was the spark that initiated their lobbying campaign to get the state its own namesake sub, which will join the fleet in 2018.

Down through history, Navy ships have been named after presidents, war heroes and famous battles. Beginning in 1931, the Navy began naming submarines after fish and “denizens of the deep,” with names such as Barracuda and Skipjack. But a famous about-face took place in 1970, when a submarine was named for William H. Bates, a congressman and staunch Navy supporter on the House Armed Services Committee. The powerful Adm. Hyman Rickover, who governed the Navy sub program with an iron fist for decades, had a pithy explanation for the change: “Fish don’t vote.”

But it is the secretary of the Navy, by custom, who gets to name ships.

If the process of naming ships is something of GREAT interest to you … read the October report by the Congressional Research Service. It notes that recent Navy tradition has followed these rough guidelines:

Aircraft carriers are generally named for past U.S. presidents. Of the last 13, 10 were named for past U.S. presidents and two for Members of Congress.

Virginia (SSN-774) class attack submarines are being named for states. One exception has been made: then-Navy Secretary Donald Winter named SSN-785 after former Sen. John Warner of Virginia. Warner was himself a former Navy secretary and a powerful advocate for the service, particularly in his home state, during his years in the Senate.

Destroyers are named for deceased members of the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard, including secretaries of the Navy.

Littoral Combat Ships (LCSs) are being named for regionally important U.S. cities and communities.

Amphibious assault ships are being named for important battles in which U.S. Marines played a prominent part and for famous earlier U.S. Navy ships that were not named for battles.

San Antonio (LPD-17) class amphibious ships are being named for major U.S. cities and communities and cities and communities attacked on Sept. 11, 2001.

Lewis and Clark (TAKE-1) class cargo and ammunition ships were named for famous American explorers, trailblazers and pioneers.

Mobile Landing Platform (MLP) ships/Afloat Forward Staging Bases (AFSBs) are being named for famous names or places of historical significance to U.S. Marines.

Source – Delaware online

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