The following is the Sept. 26, 2023, Congressional Research Service Report, Navy Ship Names: Background for Congress.
From the report
Names for Navy ships traditionally have been chosen and announced by the Secretary of the Navy, under the direction of the President and in accordance with rules prescribed by Congress. Rules for giving certain types of names to certain types of Navy ships have evolved over time. There have been exceptions to the Navy’s ship-naming rules, particularly for the purpose of naming a ship for a person when the rule for that type of ship would have called for it to be named for something else. Some observers have perceived a breakdown in, or corruption of, the rules for naming Navy ships.
Consistent with the Naming Commission’s two recommendations for renaming ships, the Navy on February 27, 2023, announced that the cruiser USS Chancellorsville (CG-62) would be renamed the USS Robert Smalls, and on March 8, 2023, announced that the oceanographic survey ship USNS Maury (TAGS-66) has been renamed the USS Marie Tharp.
Names for Navy ship types currently or recently procured for the Navy include the following:
- The first and second SSBN-826 class ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) have been named District of Columbia and Wisconsin.
- Most Virginia (SSN-774) class attack submarines have been named for states. Three have been named for persons, and four consecutive boats in the class were named in 2020 and 2021 for earlier U.S. Navy attack submarines.
- Of the Navy’s 15 most recently named aircraft carriers, 10 have been named for past U.S. Presidents and 2 for Members of Congress.
- Destroyers are being named for deceased members of the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard, including Secretaries of the Navy.
- The first three FFG-62 class frigates have been named Constellation, Congress, and Chesapeake, in honor of three of the first six U.S. Navy ships authorized by Congress in 1794, and the fourth has been named Lafayette in honor of Marquis de Lafayette and his service during the American Revolutionary War.
- Littoral Combat Ships (LCSs) were named for regionally important U.S. cities and communities.
- Amphibious assault ships are being named for U.S. Marine Corps battles, early U.S. Navy sailing ships, or aircraft carriers from World War II.
- San Antonio (LPD-17) class amphibious ships are being named for major U.S. cities and communities and cities and communities attacked on September 11, 2001.
- John Lewis (TAO-205) class oilers are being named for people who fought for civil rights and human rights.
- Expeditionary Fast Transports (EPFs) are being named for small U.S. cities.
- The first of the Navy’s new Expeditionary Medical Ships (EMSs) has been named Bethesda to honor the history and community of health care professionals that make up Naval Support Activity Bethesda.
- Expeditionary Transport Docks (ESDs) and Expeditionary Sea Bases (ESBs) are being named for famous names or places of historical significance to U.S. Marines.
- Navajo (TATS-6) class towing, salvage, and rescue ships are being named for prominent Native Americans or Native American tribes.
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