By Kim Geiger, Tribune Washington Bureau –
WASHINGTON — Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced Friday that the next Independence variant littoral combat ship will be named after Gabrielle Giffords, the former Arizona congresswoman who survived being shot in the head last January when a gunman opened fire as Giffords met with constituents outside a Tucson grocery store.
Six others, including 9-year-old Christina Taylor-Green, were killed in the shooting and 13, including Giffords, were wounded.
Mabus said the ship’s sponsor will be Roxanna Green, Taylor-Green’s mother. In naval tradition, a ship’s sponsor’s “spirit and presence guide the ship throughout its service life,” according to a Defense Department statement.
Giffords was presented with an artist’s rendering of what will be the USS Gabrielle Giffords at a Pentagon ceremony Friday afternoon.
“I am pleased to honor Gabrielle Giffords and the people of Arizona with the naming of this ship,” Mabus said. “Giffords and the ship’s sponsor, Roxanna Green, are sources of great inspiration and represent the Navy and Marine Corps qualities of overcoming, adapting and coming out victoriously despite great challenges.”
The decision was announced shortly after Giffords visited the White House, where she watched as President Barack Obama signed into law the final bill she introduced as a congresswoman. Giffords retired last month to focus on her recovery.
Construction of the 419-foot-long ship will be led by Austal Shipbuilding in Mobile, Ala. It will be the 17th ship named after a woman.