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Combat ship USS Gabrielle Giffords christened

Named for the former congresswoman, a new U.S. Navy combat ship designed to operate in shallow waters was christened Saturday in a ceremony in Mobile, Ala. "In Congress I was proud to support our armed forces. I love the Navy — I even married a sailor," Giffords said as the USS Gabrielle Giffords was formally given its name.

"Thank you to all who built this ship. She's stealthy. She will defend freedom around the world," said Giffords, standing next to her husband, retired Navy captain and astronaut Mark Kelly.

The ship's sponsor, Jill Biden, wife of the vice president of the United States, shattered a bottle of champagne against the bow of the 419-foot ship during the naming ceremony Saturday afternoon.

The USS Gabrielle Giffords 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.

The Navy announced that it would name the ship for Giffords in February 2012, not long after she resigned from Congress because of lingering injuries following the Jan. 8, 2011, shootings that killed six and injured 13, including the Democratic congresswoman.

"Courage comes in many, many forms — physical, mental, spiritual and political. Gabby has truly modeled courage and resilience," Vice Admiral Philip Cullom, deputy chief of naval operations for fleet readiness and logistics, said at the christening.

The Independence-class littoral combat ship, under construction in at the Austal shipyard in Mobile, is scheduled for an August launch. The ship will be the 10th in the LCS series. The LCS 10 can travel in excess of 40 knots, and belongs to a class of ships designed for combat that can maneuver close to shore for mine, anti-submarine and surface warfare.

The ship's keel was laid in April 2014.

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