Sec. Mabus returns to traditional ship-naming procedure, announces 5 new ship names

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After drawing fire for the decision to name a new littoral combat ship (LCS) after former Arizona Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, on Wednesday Navy Secretary Ray Mabus announced the names of five more ships — which adhered more closely to the norms of ship naming.

The five new ships include three Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers named the USS John Finn, USS Ralph Johnson, and USS Rafael Peralta, and two LCSs the USS Sioux City and USS Omaha.

The destroyers were named for three Navy and Marine Corps veterans from World War II, one from Vietnam and one from Operation Iraqi Freedom. The LCSs were named for American communities, usual procedure for LCS dedication.

“Finn, Johnson and Peralta have all been recognized with some of our nation’s highest awards,” said Mabus. “I want to ensure their service and sacrifice will be known by today’s sailors and Marines and honored for several decades to come by a new generation of Americans and people from around the world who will come in contact with these ships.”

Finn received the Medal of Honor for “magnificent courage in the face of almost certain death” during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Johnson was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously for warning his fellow Marines and diving on an explosive devise, saving at least one Marine and keeping the enemy at bay in Vietnam.

Peralta was also posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for saving his fellow Marines in Iraq by diving on a grenade. (RELATED: Former military brass ‘shocked,’ ‘angered’ over USS Gabrielle Giffords)

California Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter had been pushing to have ships named after Finn and Peralta, especially following the Navy’s decision last year to name a ship after labor activist Cesar Chavez.

Hunter, a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, attached an amendment to the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act pushing the Navy to name the next available ship after Peralta. He also introduced legislation in the 111th Congress to have a ship named for Finn.

Following the announcement that Giffords would be having an LCS named for her Hunter wrote a letter to Mabus, Tuesday, strongly questioning why Peralta had been passed over several times for the honor.

Mabus did not disappoint this go around.

“For Sergeant Peralta and John Finn, this is recognition that’s well-deserved,” said Hunter Wednesday. “Two ships carrying the names of such heroic Americans — and San Diegans, in fact — will inspire future generations of Marines and sailors, and tell countless others who come in contact with these ships about the extraordinary actions and selflessness of Sergeant Peralta and John Finn.”

The two new LCSs Mabus explained were named to honor the communities of their namesakes.

“I chose the name for our two new littoral combat ships after Midwestern cities from America’s heartland, to honor the patriotic, hard-working citizens of Sioux City, Iowa, and Omaha, Nebraska, for their support of and contributions to the military,” Mabus explained.

Hunter added that the new ships’ names are more in line with traditional Navy vessel dedications.

“It’s also good to see the Navy finally returning to a more traditional convention of ship-naming. Hopefully it stays this way, and the Navy will stick to the high standard it set for itself in this latest set of ship-naming decisions,” Hunter concluded.

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