Home » Budget Industry » SECNAV Spencer Names Ship After WWII Medal of Honor Recipient Who Fought Off Kamikaze Attacks

SECNAV Spencer Names Ship After WWII Medal of Honor Recipient Who Fought Off Kamikaze Attacks

A graphic illustration of the future San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Richard M. McCool Jr. (LPD-29). US Navy Photo

The 13th San Antonio-class amphibious warship will be named after a World War II sailor who received the Medal of Honor for actions off Okinawa in 1945, the service announced on Wednesday.

The future San Antonio-class amphibious warship Richard M. McCool Jr. (LPD-29) will be named for Capt. Richard McCool, who commanded a landing craft support ship and saved several lives following an Imperial Japanese kamikaze attack on U.S. ships operating off the coast of Okinawa.

“Lt. McCool aided materially in evacuating all survivors from a sinking destroyer which had sustained mortal damage under the devastating attacks,” read his MoH citation.
“When his own craft was attacked simultaneously by two of the enemy’s suicide squadron early in the evening of 11 June, he instantly hurled the full power of his gun batteries against the plunging aircraft, shooting down the first and damaging the second before it crashed his station in the conning tower and engulfed the immediate area in a mass of flames.”

McCool retired from the Navy as a captain after serving in the Korean and Vietnam wars.

“Capt. McCool served his nation with honor, distinction and an unparalleled sense of duty,” Spencer said in a Navy statement.
“His exemplary service in defense of our nation spanned 30 years and three wars. His legacy will live on in the future USS Richard M. McCool, and his heroic actions will continue to inspire sailors and Marines for decades to come.”

The decision to name the ship after a war hero comes as a break in tradition, with the rest of the LPD-17 ships being named after U.S. cities.

In February, the Navy signed a $1.4-billion contract with Huntington Ingalls Industries for the construction of the future McCool. With the Navy moving into an LPD Flight II design to replace the aging Whidbey Island-class LSDs, the future McCool will be built with many but not all of the features of the Flight II design as the shipyard eases into the new design.

  • D. Jones

    Nice to see the Navy getting back to recognizing sailors instead of politicians.

    LPD’s have nice lines. Form following function.

  • Ed L

    Fair winds and following seas.

  • RobM1981

    “The decision to name the ship after a war hero comes as a break in tradition, with the rest of the LPD-17 ships being named after U.S. cities”

    This is always a good thing.

    • TransformerSWO

      And the LPDs before this class too. Perhaps it would have been better to name a destroyer after McCool – that’s the class we name after war heroes.

      • Rocco

        Agreed!! I have no problem with naming a ship after the Skipper & probably way overdue. But as typical of a new secnav to break tradition as he has no traditional views on what tradition means!! The next Burke destroyer should have his name on her!

    • El_Sid

      As an outsider, I couldn’t agree less. For one thing – if you’ve got a format for the names of a class – stick to it. It brings a unity to the class, and just looks messy otherwise, like the USN can’t really make its mind up and is just naming ships at random after a night down the pub. Exhibit A – the Seawolf class. Also, if you have a non-negotiable format for a class name, then you can’t just go sticking politician names in at random, unless you have a specific Politician class of ships.

      I know many people here will disagree, but I tend to the view that if you want to celebrate the heroism of an individual, give them a medal. By naming after past ships, you celebrate the service of the hundreds/thousands of sailors who have served on those ships through history, and if you want city names there’s a bunch of cruisers that saw many acts of heroism in WWII. USS Minneapolis (17 battle stars) is perhaps the most obvious one missing from the current list, although at the moment it’s intended for LCS-21. I can understand that maybe LCS-21 was named when they weren’t expecting another LPD, but these things can be changed. There’s plenty of alternatives – USS Phoenix would be nice from a British perspective, in recognition of the poor sods who went down on the General Belgrano (née Phoenix).

      Another aspect is that city names are a good way to connect civilians with the Navy – and much preferable to the usual pork barrel. Call it Phoenix or Minneapolis and ~4 million people in each metro area feel good about the USN. This is where I feel naming the Virginia class after states was such a bad move – aside from the should-be-fish argument, SSNs are not ideal for civilian engagement for all sorts of reasons. I’d name SSBNs after inland states, in keeping with the use of state names for capital ships, but people from inland states won’t expect to see “their” part of the USN. Coastal states should have surface ships named after them, something visible that is big enough for visitors and without too many security concerns. Large gators are ideal, and I would have named the Zumwalts with some of the state names used for monitors.

      • Rocco


  • NavySubNuke

    Great choice by SECNAV — after 8 years of ups and downs by Mabus this is a solid choice.
    I’m curious to see what the second hull of the COLUMBIA class will be named since Mabus clearly intended to take a stand on DC statehood — but Virginia’s are already named for states.
    I personally hope he goes with non-state River (Yukon, Snake, and Yellowstone would all be good choices) names mixed in with Submarine Medal of Honor winners.

    • Rocco

      OK why?? A more fitting ship for a 3 war hero should be a DDG as most here agree with!

      • NavySubNuke

        First, I’m happy SECNAV chose to name a ship after someone worthy of having a ship named after them rather than Mabus’ usual choices.
        Second, he earned his MoH while serving on an amphib so naming an amphib after him fits.
        I understand the Navy usually names DDGs after MoH winners but I think those ships should belong to their own community. For instance USS O’Kane should be an SSN or SSBN since he was a submarine CO.
        That said, I am happy he has a DDG named after him rather than not having any ship – but hopefully when the current USS O’Kane retires next vessel to be honored with that name is a boat.

        • Rocco

          Fair enough ⚓️

        • El_Sid

          I’m curious – if you had the job of naming the next SSN after the retirement of DDG-77, would you prefer to name it USS O’Kane or USS Tang?

          To my mind the latter honours everyone who served on the previous boats, it was a collective effort despite O’Kane obviously playing a leading role.

          • NavySubNuke

            I’m going to take a cop out and say both.
            As I already said I’d like the SSBNs to be named for Submarine MoH winners – our ultimate weapons named after our ultimate warriors seems like the best path forward for me.
            I’d love to see us return to traditional SSN names and bring back the heritage of our most successful WWII boats – Tang, Barb, Cabrilla, and so many others. But I don’t think we will win that battle from the politicians…

  • KenofSoCal

    Great name, WRONG class. The McCool should have been a DDG.

    • Rocco

      Agreed again

  • Zorcon, Fidei Defensor

    After the USNS Harvey Milk, anything is a improvement.

  • PolicyWonk

    You can’t go wrong naming a ship after a MoH recipient!

    • Rocco

      Yes but put his name on a ship that gives his name proper honour!! The LPD should of been named traditionally !!

      • PolicyWonk

        The traditions of ship naming have been bolluxed up, for sure…

  • ew_3

    Better then naming it after LBJ or JFK or Carl Levin !

  • Beomoose

    Good name, but shouldn’t it be on a DDG as has been done with several MoH recipients rather than an LPD?

  • John Burtis

    Better to break tradition by naming a ship after a war hero than naming one, sadly, after an anti-gun activist or a union organizer.