Secretary of the Navy Edwin “Ray” Mabus, under fire from members of Congress, veterans’ associations, and others, has announced that the Navy will return to traditional sources for naming Navy ships.1 This decision follows a spate of ship names that have been described as stupid and insensitive.
The current run of “problem names” began with a “good name” in early 2009, when then–Secretary of the Navy Donald C. Winter, in one of his last acts in the George W. Bush administration, named the nuclear-propelled attack submarine SSN-785 for Senator John Warner (R-VA). The senator had served in the Navy and Marine Corps, as Under Secretary and then Secretary of the Navy, and as a U.S. Senator. As chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, he had a key role in shaping the Navy. Senator Warner certainly deserved to be honored with a ship—a destroyer, as was traditional for members of Congress who have helped the Navy (or, since the 1970s, an aircraft carrier).2