Captain Don Walsh, U.S. Navy (Retired)
The worst is the World War II–era
Gato-class submarine USS Rock (SS/SSR/AGSS-274). Most submariners are not comfortable with a ship name that conveys negative buoyancy. It is now a museum ship at the Wisconsin Maritime Museum.
The best is the USS Shangri-La (CVA-38). Eminently historic, a tribute to Roosevelt and Doolittle and outside-the-box thinking. Should be revived and given to something stealthy. The worst is the USS Asphalt (IX-153)!
Commander Greg Atchison, U.S. Navy (Retired)
The worst is USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS-10). Named for a victim of a heinous crime to be sure, but also someone with no connection to the naval service. The best is Bonhomme Richard. Enterprise will probably take this category, but the Bonnie Dick’s links to the great John Paul Jones and Benjamin Franklin puts it in contention.
George W. Runkle IV, U.S. Army Veteran
The best is Enterprise. Eight Navy ships have borne the name, and a ninth is being built (CVN-80). The worst is the first USS Seal (SS-19½), commissioned in 1912 as the G-1.
James Friderici, U.S. Coast Guard Veteran
The USS Nautilus (SSN-571) is the best name. It honored Jules Verne’s vision of a submarine that could operate around the world. She opened a new chapter in undersea warfare.
Captain Howard C. Cohen, U.S. Navy (Retired)
The best is the USS Constitution, “Old Ironsides,” the most venerable and victorious ship in our history, still in commission. The name commemorates the most important document of our governance and liberties.
The USS Robert E. Lee (SSBN-601). U.S. Naval Institute Photo Archive
Captain Todd Creekman, U.S. Navy (Retired)
The worst is the USS Samuel Gompers (AD-37), which served from Vietnam through Desert Storm and beyond. Gompers was a distinguished labor leader, but all other destroyer tenders from World War II to the 1990s were named for U.S. geography and national parks: Yosemite, Yellowstone, Shenandoah, etc.
The worst is the USS Robert E. Lee (SSBN-601), named for a man who resigned his commission in the U.S. Army and led a rebellion that cost more than 500,000 American lives. Naming ships after Confederate leaders or victories tells West Point cadets and Annapolis midshipmen that it is fine to violate their oath of allegiance to the United States.
The USS Fond du Lac (APA-166). U.S. Naval Institute Photo Archive
In World War II, my Dad served in the Pacific on the USS Fond du Lac (APA-166), named after a Wisconsin city. This might be the worst name, as the English translation is “The Bottom of the Lake”—not the place you would expect to find any naval vessel!
Rob Swaney, U.S. Navy Veteran
The USS Nitro (AE-23) and USS Pyro (AE-24) had both the best and worst names. The best in that their names always brought a smile and a knowing nod, but the worst in that they really gave one pause when coming alongside during underway replenishment.
Lieutenant Commander Brian Hayes, U.S. Navy (Retired)
The worst Navy ship name is Gabrielle Giffords, because the naming decision was too closely linked to partisan politics. The best is Constitution, the founding document of the American republic. Her nickname isn't bad, either.
The USS Pyro (AE-24). U.S. Naval Institute Photo Archive
Major Bob Cypher, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve (Retired)
The best is the USS United States. There is a tie for worst: USS John P. Murtha (LPD-26) and the future USS Ted Stevens (DDG-128). It is bad enough we name ships after hack politicians, but to name ships after one who escaped conviction by the skin of his teeth (Murtha—Abscam) and another who died shortly after being convicted (later vacated) for corruption and who had no connection with the Sea Services is a travesty.
Commander Michael W. Winkler, U.S. Navy Reserve (Retired)
The USS Firebolt’s (PC-10) name exemplifies her motto, “Charge Hard, Strike Fast.” In defending the Khor Al Amaya Oil Terminal against a suicide attack by multiple dhows in April 2004, three sailors were lost including the only Coast Guardsman lost in action since Vietnam.
Captain Robert J. Terhune, U.S. Navy (Retired)
The best was the USS Implicit. The “Mighty I” was a fantastic ship with great officers and crews. As a Naval Reserve Force ship in the 1980s and early 1990s, she was based in Tacoma, Washington, as the flagship of Mine Division Five One. While the name Implicit does not inspire, the actions of the ship and her crew do.
Charles P. Hall
Names of ships that had the best luck: Enterprise, Ranger, and Saratoga. The one with the worst: Princeton. The first had largest gun in the fleet explode, the second was sunk at the Battle of the Philippine Sea, and the tird struck a mine in the Persian Gulf.
Chief Petty Officer John Duffy, U.S. Navy (Retired)
The best ship names were the USS Towers (DDG-9) and the USS Reeves (CG-24), both named after great proponents of naval air power and my first and third ships, respectively.
When I think of the essence of our country, I think of “independence, freedom, liberty,” all of which have been names of U.S. Navy ships. But the greatest name of all is Constitution, for it institutionalizes all of these in our democracy and gives us our greatest, most historic ship!
The best name is the USS Constitution, named for our founding document that sets forth the moral values, ethical principles, and high ideals upon which our society is based. The worst names are the SSBNs Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. Did they forget Benedict Arnold?
Captain William L. Rudich, U.S. Navy (Retired)
The worst ship names are those named for politicians. We have alternatives. There are genuine Navy and Marine Corps heroes who were awarded the Medal of Honor, Navy Cross, Silver Star, etc., and traditional names such as Wasp, Ranger, and Hornet that celebrate our history. Use them and steer clear of politics.
Henry A. Kyle III
The best is the USS Enterprise (CV-6), because she was the most decorated warship of World War II, earning 20 Battle Stars—three more than any other ship. In addition, Enterprise was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation and the Navy Unit Commendation, becoming the only carrier awarded both for World War II service. The worst U.S. Navy ship name does not exist!
Lieutenant Bill Hart, U.S. Navy (Retired)
Aside from any ship named for a living or dead politician, the worst are all four USS Montereys—misspelled. As noted on the latest Monterey (CG-61) official website and reflected by images in her shield, she is named for the 1846 Battle of Monterrey.