USS Gabrielle Giffords

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USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS-10)
Launch of USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS-10) in February 2015.JPG
Gabrielle Giffords being launched at the Austal USA shipyard in February 2015.
United States of America
Name: Gabrielle Giffords
Namesake: Gabrielle Giffords
Awarded: 16 March 2012[1]
Builder: Austal USA[2]
Laid down: 16 April 2014[1]
Launched: 26 February 2015[1]
Sponsored by: Roxanna Green,[3][4] Jill Biden[5]
Christened: 13 June 2015[6]
Status: Under construction[1]
General characteristics
Class and type: Independence-class littoral combat ship
Displacement: 2,307 metric tons light, 3,104 metric tons full, 797 metric tons deadweight[1]
Length: 127.4 m (418 ft)[1]
Beam: 31.6 m (104 ft)[1]
Draft: 14 ft (4.27 m)[1]
Propulsion: 2× gas turbines, 2× diesel, 4× waterjets, retractable Azimuth thruster, 4× diesel generators
Speed: 40 kn + (46 mph; 74 km/h), 47 knots (54 mph; 87 km/h) sprint
Range: 4,300 nmi (8,000 km; 4,900 mi) at 20 kn + (23 mph; 37 km/h)
Capacity: 210 tonnes
Complement: 40 core crew (8 officers, 32 enlisted) plus up to 35 mission crew
Sensors and
processing systems:
Sea Giraffe 3D Surface/Air RADAR
Bridgemaster-E Navigational RADAR
AN/KAX-2 EO/IR sensor for GFC
Electronic warfare
& decoys:
SRBOC rapid bloom chaff launchers
Armament: BAE Systems Mk 110 57 mm gun
4× .50-cal guns (2 aft, 2 forward)
Evolved SeaRAM 11 cell missile launcher
Mission modules
Aircraft carried: MH-60R/S Seahawks
MQ-8 Fire Scout

USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS-10) will be an Independence-class littoral combat ship of the United States Navy.[1] The ship is named after former United States Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot along with eighteen other people during the 2011 shooting in Tucson, Arizona.[3] The ship's name was announced by Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus on 10 February 2012.[3][4][7]

Gabrielle Giffords will be the 16th U.S. naval ship to be named for a woman by the United States Navy, and the 13th U.S. naval ship since 1850 to be named after a living person.[8] The ship, currently being built by Austal USA, is expected to be delivered to the U.S. Navy in 2017.[9]



In 2002, the U.S. Navy initiated a program to develop the first of a fleet of littoral combat ships.[10] The Navy initially ordered two trimaran hulled ships from General Dynamics, which became known as the Independence-class littoral combat ships after the first ship of the class, USS Independence.[10] Even-numbered U.S. Navy littoral combat ships are built using the Independence-class trimaran design, while odd-numbered ships are based on a competing design, the conventional hull Freedom-class littoral combat ship.[10] The initial order of littoral combat ships involved a total of four ships, including two of the Independence-class design.[10]

On 29 December 2010, the Navy announced that it was awarding Austal USA a contract to build ten additional Independence-class littoral combat ships.[11] On 10 February 2012, Naval Secretary Ray Mabus announced that LCS-10, the fifth Independence-class ship to be built, would be named USS Gabrielle Giffords.[3][4][7] Secretary Mabus also announced that the ship's sponsor would be Roxanna Green, the mother of Christina-Taylor Green, age 9, who was killed in the Tucson shooting that wounded Giffords in January 2011.[4][7]

Naming controversy[edit]

During the ship's naming announcement on 10 February 2012, Secretary Mabus said that the Navy had chosen to name the ship Gabrielle Giffords because Rep. Giffords' name had become "synonymous with courage" and that the congresswoman had "inspired the nation with remarkable resiliency."[7] The secretary also called the naming a tribute to Navy families, stating that Giffords was a "Navy spouse" who made efforts to support the Navy during her time in Congress.[7] Giffords is married to Captain Mark Kelly (Ret.), a former naval aviator and astronaut.[7][12]

Following the announcement, the media reported that some former military members, including retired U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps officers, were criticizing the decision to name the ship after Giffords as part of a perceived trend toward naming ships for political reasons.[8][13] Some commentators, including retired Commander Darlene Iskra (the first woman to command a U.S. Navy vessel[14]) and Robert Farley (professor at the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce and military affairs scholar[15]), noted in response that several ships in the US Navy, including Henry M. Jackson, Carl Vinson, John C. Stennis, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, and George Bush were named for prominent politicians who were still alive at the time of the naming.[14][16] Commander Iskra also wrote in a Time Magazine editorial that the still-active Carl Vinson was named for a congressman responsible for barring women from combat roles in the Navy for nearly 50 years.[14]

In connection with the controversy, United States Senator Roy Blunt added an amendment to the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act which required the Navy to report to Congress on how effectively it was adhering to established naming conventions.[8] The resulting report highlighted a consistent record of making "occasional exceptions" to established ship-naming conventions, beginning in 1798 when Secretary Benjamin Stoddert broke with naming convention by naming one of the original six frigates of the United States Navy as USS Chesapeake.[8] The report also noted that while Secretary Mabus considered honoring Giffords and other victims of the Tucson shooting by naming LCS-10 after the Arizonan city of Tucson, consistent with current naming conventions for littoral combat ships to honor U.S. cities, but this was not possible because USS Tucson, an active Los Angeles-class submarine, currently bears the name.[8]

After the ship's 2015 christening, military-focused newspaper Stars and Stripes said that criticism of the ship's naming had become "muted", possibly due to recognition that the ship's naming was "by no means unprecedented."[8]


The keel of Gabrielle Giffords was laid at the Austal USA shipyard in Mobile, Alabama on 16 April 2014.[17] Rep. Giffords, still recovering from injuries sustained in the 2011 assassination attempt, attended the ship's keel-laying ceremony.[17][18] With the assistance of an Austal welder, Rep. Giffords welded her initials into a plate that would become part of the ship's hull.[18]

Gabrielle Giffords was launched and moved from its construction facility to drydock on 26 February 2015.[19] The ship was christened in a ceremony held at the Austal USA shipyard on 13 June 2015.[5][6] Second Lady of the United States Jill Biden served as ship sponsor at the vessel's June 2015 christening.[5]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Gabrielle Giffords (LCS 10)". Naval Vessel Register. Retrieved 30 June 2015. 
  2. ^  This article incorporates public domain material from the Congressional Research Service document "Navy Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Program: Background and Issues for Congress".
  3. ^ a b c d Cavas, Christopher P. (11 February 2012). "New LCS named for Gabrielle Giffords". Navy Times. Retrieved 11 February 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c d Freking, Kevin (10 February 2012). "Navy names ship for former congresswoman Giffords". Yahoo! News. Associated Press. Retrieved 23 May 2015. 
  5. ^ a b c "Navy ship christened for former Arizona Rep. Giffords". The Arizona Republic. 13 June 2015. Retrieved 27 September 2015. 
  6. ^ a b "Navy Christens Littoral Combat Ship Gabrielle Giffords" (Press release). U.S. Department of Defense. 11 June 2015. NR-228-15. Retrieved 11 June 2015. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f Martinez, Luis (10 February 2012). "Navy Announces USS Gabrielle Giffords". ABC News (American Broadcasting Company). Retrieved 27 September 2015. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f Olson, Wyatt (19 June 2015). "From Hope to Giffords: The Navy's long history of unconventional ship names". Stars and Stripes (newspaper). Retrieved 23 October 2015. 
  9. ^ PEO LCS Public Affairs (27 February 2015). "Future USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS 10) Launches" (Press release). Navy News Service. NNS150227-21. Retrieved 23 October 2015. 
  10. ^ a b c d "US Navy Fact File: Littoral Combat Ship Class – LCS". US Navy. Retrieved 30 October 2015. 
  11. ^ Special from Navy Office of Information (29 December 2010). "Littoral Combat Ship Contract Award Announced" (Press release). Navy News Service. NNS101229-09. Retrieved 30 October 2015. 
  12. ^ "Commander Mark Kelly Announces Retirement From NASA, Navy". Fox News. 21 June 2011. Retrieved 4 July 2011. 
  13. ^ May, Caroline (14 February 2012). "Former military brass 'shocked,' 'angered' over USS Gabrielle Giffords". Daily Caller. Retrieved 23 May 2015. 
  14. ^ a b c Iskra, Darline (27 February 2012). "More on Ship-Naming Controversies: About the USS Gabrielle Giffords". Time, Inc. Retrieved 23 May 2015. 
  15. ^ Curriculum Vitae, Dr. Robert M. Farley. Accessed 13 January 2016.
  16. ^ Farley, Robert (10 February 2012). "USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS-10)". Retrieved 23 May 2015. 
  17. ^ a b Program Executive Office Littoral Combat Ships (16 April 2014). "Keel Laid for Future USS Gabrielle Giffords" (Press release). Navy News Service. NNS140416-23. Retrieved 30 October 2015. 
  18. ^ a b Finch II, Michael (16 April 2014). "Gabrielle Giffords signs initials onto future littoral combat ship bearing her name". Retrieved 2 November 2015. 
  19. ^ Blindner, Rachelle (26 February 2015). "Navy ship named for Gabby Giffords hits water in Alabama". New York Daily News. Retrieved 23 May 2015. 

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