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Navy to Christen Littoral Combat Ship for Gabrielle Giffords on Saturday

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, former U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and her husband Mark Kelly attend a ceremony at the Pentagon in 2012. US Navy Photo

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, former U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and her husband Mark Kelly attend a ceremony at the Pentagon in 2012. US Navy Photo

The tenth Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) is slated to be christened for former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in a Saturday ceremony in Mobile, Ala, the Pentagon announced this week.

Tomorrow, Jill Biden — the wife of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden — will break a bottle of sparkling wine in a ceremony to officially name the fifth Austal USA-built Independence-class Littoral Combat Ship after former democratic representative Gabrielle Giffords.

“The christening of the future USS Gabrielle Giffords marks the beginning of what is certain to be a long life for this great ship,” said Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus in a Thursday statement.

Giffords, a former member of the House Armed Services Committee from Arizona, was shot in a 2011 mass shooting that killed six and injured 11. She resigned her office in 2012.

That same year, Mabus announced the tenth LCS would be named after Giffords in a move that stirred a minor outcry in some naval circles.

Ship naming controversies have been a staple of the U.S. Navy since the start of the service.

Aerial view of the future littoral combat ship USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS 10) during its launch sequence at the Austal USA shipyard on Feb. 24, 2015. US Navy Photo

Aerial view of the future littoral combat ship USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS 10) during its launch sequence at the Austal USA shipyard on Feb. 24, 2015. US Navy Photo

“The Navy motto is Semper Fortis, Always Courageous,” said Mabus during a ceremony held in the Pentagon Courtyard in 2012. “Unwavering courage has defined the Navy for 236 years and it is what we expect, what we demand of our Sailors every single day. So it’s very appropriate that LCS 10 be named for someone who has become synonymous with courage, who has inspired the nation with remarkable resiliency and showed the possibilities of the human spirit.”

The ship Gabrielle Giffords (LCS-10) is a 3,000-ton aluminum trimaran designed to accept different modular mission packages for surface and anti-submarine warfare (SuW, ASW) and mine countermeasure (MCM) missions.

The ships are being built alongside the aluminum Joint High Speed Vessels (JHSV) for the Navy’s Military Sealift Command (MCS) at Austal’s yard in Mobile.