List of U.S. military vessels named after living Americans
The naming of United States Navy vessels after living people was common in early decades of American history, but by World War II, the Navy had firmly established a practice of naming ships for people only after they had died. In 1969, a Navy panel decreed that warships would no longer be named after living persons. That lasted until 1974, when President Richard Nixon announced the naming of an aircraft carrier after United States Representative Carl Vinson. Since then, ships such as the Arleigh Burke, Henry M. Jackson, Bob Hope, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Gabrielle Giffords have been named for people still alive at the time.
The U.S. Navy generally announces the name of a ship some time before it is launched, and well before it is accepted for purchase and commissioned into active service.
List of ships
The following ships received their names while their namesakes were alive. The list includes several ships whose namesakes died before the ships were commissioned.
- George Washington had several vessels named after him before he died in 1799, including at least four in the 1770s and one in 1798. (See also USS Washington).
- USS Washington (1775) was a schooner named Endeavor acquired by Gen. Washington in October 1775, renamed Washington, and re-rigged as a brigantine.
- USS Washington (1776 row galley) was a row galley that operated in Narragansett Bay during the winter and spring of 1776.
- USS Washington (1776 frigate) was one of 13 frigates authorized by the Continental Congress. She was launched in August 1776.
- USS Washington (1776 lateen-rigged galley), a lateen-rigged two-masted galley, was built in the autumn of 1776.
- USS George Washington (1798) was commissioned in 1798.
- John Hancock's name was given to two vessels before he died in October 1793. (See also USS Hancock.)
- USS Franklin (1775) was a 6-gun schooner, fitted out in 1775; Benjamin Franklin died in 1790. (See also USS Franklin)
- USS Lady Washington (1776) was commissioned in 1776; Martha Washington died in 1802.
- USS Deane (1778) was commissioned in 1778; Silas Deane died in 1789.
- John Adams had two ships named after him, he died on July 4, 1826.
- USS James Madison (1807) was commissioned in 1807.
- USS Jefferson (1814) was launched in 1814; Thomas Jefferson died on July 4, 1826.
- James Madison had three vessels named for him before he died on June 28, 1836.
- USS Madison (1832) was a Van Buren-class schooner, designed by Edward Preble and built in 1832.
- USS Van Buren (1839) was commissioned in 1839; Martin Van Buren died in July 1862. (See also USS Van Buren)
- USS Harriet Lane, commissioned by the US Revenue Cutter Service in 1857, transferred to the U.S. Navy in 1861, named for Harriet Lane, niece and First Lady of bachelor President James Buchanan. Lane died in 1903.
- USS Holland (SS-1) was commissioned in 1900; John Philip Holland, pioneer of submarine design, died August 1914.
- USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) was named in 1980; Carl Vinson, former chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, died in 1981, before the ship was commissioned.
- USS Hyman G. Rickover (SSN-709) was named in 1983; Retired Admiral Hyman Rickover, known as the "Father of the Nuclear Navy", died in 1986.
- USS Arleigh Burke (DDG-51) was named in 1989; Retired Admiral Arleigh Burke, former 3-term Chief of Naval Operations, died in 1996. Burke spoke at the ship's commissioning on July 4, 1991.
- USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74) was named in 1993; John Stennis, former chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, died in 1995, before the ship was commissioned.
- USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) was named in 1995; former President Ronald Reagan died in June 2004, eleven months after the ship was commissioned in July 2003.
- USNS Bob Hope (T-AKR-300) was named in 1997; Bob Hope, veteran of USO shows spanning 50 years, died in 2003.
- USS Jimmy Carter (SSN-23) was named in 1998 for former President and Navy submariner Jimmy Carter.
- USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77) was named in 2002 for former President and naval aviator George H. W. Bush. George died in November 2018, 16 years after his ship was commissioned.
- USS Nitze (DDG-94) was named in April 2004; Paul Nitze, former Secretary of the Navy, died in October 2004, before the ship was commissioned.
- USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) was named in October 2006; Gerald R. Ford, former President and carrier officer, died in December 2006, before the ship was commissioned.
- USS Mustin (DDG-89) was named on 15 December 2001 in honor of the Mustin family who has devoted over a century of U.S. Naval service. Vice Admiral Henry C. Mustin died in April 2016, 13 years after the ship was commissioned, and LCDR Thomas M. Mustin remains living in Coronado, CA.
- USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG-108) was named on November 27, 2006, for retired Rear Admiral Wayne E. Meyer, acclaimed as the father of the Aegis combat system. Meyer died in September 2009 a few weeks before the ship was commissioned.
- USS John Warner (SSN-785) was named on January 8, 2009, five days after John Warner, former Navy petty officer, former Marine Corps officer, former Secretary of the Navy, and former chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, retired from the U.S. Senate.
- USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS-10) was named on February 10, 2012, for Gabrielle Giffords, former member of the House of Representatives from Arizona who survived an assassination attempt in 2011.
- USS Thomas Hudner (DDG-116) was named on May 7, 2012, for Thomas Hudner, retired Naval officer and recipient of the Medal of Honor.
- USS Paul Ignatius (DDG-117) was named on May 23, 2012, for Paul Robert Ignatius, former Secretary of the Navy.
- USS Carl M. Levin (DDG-120) will be named for Carl M. Levin, a former United States Senator from Michigan and Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. The contract for the ship, along with the name, was first announced in a press release from General Dynamics, parent company of Bath Iron Works, on March 31, 2016.
- USS Harvey C. Barnum Jr. (DDG-124) will be named for Harvey C. Barnum, Jr., a retired Marine Corps officer and recipient of the Medal of Honor.
- List of United States Navy ships
- List of current ships of the United States Navy
- List of U.S. Navy losses in World War II
- List of U.S. military vessels named after women
- List of U.S. military vessels named after Presidents
- Olson, Wyatt (19 June 2015). "From Hope to Giffords: The Navy's long history of unconventional ship names". Stars and Stripes. Retrieved 23 October 2015.
- "PCU John Warner (SSN 785)". Commander, Naval Submarine Forces. Archived from the original on 15 October 2009. Retrieved 5 June 2009.
- Freking, Kevin (10 February 2012). "Navy names ship for former congresswoman Giffords". Yahoo! News. Archived from the original on 11 February 2012. Retrieved 19 February 2019.