Sponsored by

Note: This story is more than 2 years old.

USS Gabrielle Giffords commissioned by Navy on Saturday

One of the newest ships in the U.S. Navy fleet, the USS Gabrielle Giffords, was commissioned Saturday in Galveston in a ceremony that included the former congresswoman, her husband Mark Kelly, Navy officials, Jill Biden, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

"This is an incredible honor," Giffords told a crowd of more than 2,000 gathered for the ceremony.

"The U.S.S. Gabrielle Giffords is strong and tough, just like her crew," said Giffords, her speech still affected from being shot in the head in an assassination attempt six years ago. "I thought of you in my darkest days – the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines of the United States of America. We ask so much of you. Despite danger, you say yes. You make me proud, you make America proud."

The Navy announced in February 2012, not long after Giffords resigned from Congress because of lingering injuries following the Jan. 8, 2011, shootings that killed six and injured 13 including the Tucson Democrat, that an Independence-class littoral combat ship would be named for her. The ship was built in Mobile, Ala., and christened and first launched in 2015. The Giffords was delivered to the Navy on Dec. 23, 2016.

Following Saturday's christening, the $475 million ship will be based in San Diego.

"Let us never forget it is that spirit and our values that keep us going year after year, and that's why it is so fitting that this new, dynamic, extraordinary ship be named – named for the former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords," Clinton said at the ceremony.

Giffords, appearing with former astronaut Kelly, a former Navy pilot, said, "I will never forget this day, or the crew of the USS Gabrielle Giffords. Fair winds and following seas."

"Like Gabby, this ship will face down some lethal threats," Kelly said, "but it will persevere."

Support TucsonSentinel.com today, because a smarter Tucson is a better Tucson.

"As we man the rails today, blood gets pumped, the ship comes alive, and the heart begins to beat," said Adm. William Moran, Vice Chief of Naval Operations. "It's the blood that is infused by the spirit, the attitude, and the courage of its namesake. We are so proud to be part of Gabrielle Giffords' legacy to the United States."

 Jill Biden, wife of former Vice President Joseph Biden, is the ship's sponsor and gave the traditional order to "man our ship and bring her to life!," signalling the crew to run aboard the ship and complete the ceremony that brought the Giffords into active service.

The ship and crew of 73 is commanded by Cmdr. Keith Woodley, a native of St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands

"This is not just a new ship. This is a new class of ship and that makes it even more challenging for the crew," Woodley said during the commissioning. "They have risen to that challenge and performed exceptionally well in getting this ship ready for service."

The 420-foot ship is the 16th U.S. Navy ship to be named for a woman and the 13th since 1850 to be named for a living person. It is only the second in history to be commissioned for the Navy and named for a living woman — the other was the USS Lady Washington.

The LCS 10 belongs to a class of ships designed for combat that can maneuver close to shore for mine, anti-submarine and surface warfare.

The ship features many automated systems, allowing for a crew that is significantly smaller than the 300-sailor average of most Navy surface combat ships. It is armed with an 11-cell SeaRAM missile system, a BAE Systems Mark 110 57-mm turret-mounted gun, and four .50-cal. machine guns, as well as optional special mission modules.

"It's not easy being an LCS Sailor," said Gunner's Mate 1st Class Mark Dobrinin in a statement released by the Navy. "We have to wear so many hats and be trained on systems and duties outside of our normal job specialty due to the small crew size. Every enlisted sailor here volunteered for the program and we're excited to serve on USS Gabrielle Giffords."

The 3,200-ton Giffords has a beam of 103 feet and a draft of just 15 feet, making it capable of maneuvering in shallow coastal waters.

It has two gas turbine and two diesel engines to power four steerable waterjets, with a top speed of 40-plus knots.

Like what you're reading? Support high-quality local journalism and help underwrite independent news without the spin.

- 30 -
have your say   

Comments

There are no comments on this report. Sorry, comments are closed.

Sorry, we missed your input...

You must be logged in or register to comment

Click image to enlarge

Austal USA

Giffords waves while attending the 2015 christening of the Navy ship bearing her name.