Sunday, October 7, 2018

How Warships Should Be Named - After Warriors

Lieutenant General Frank E. Petersen Jr., USMC

On Saturday, 06 October 2018, the Navy christened the future USS Frank E. Petersen Jr. (DDG 121) at Pascagoula, Mississippi.

Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Ingalls Shipbuilding division christened the guided missile destroyer Frank E. Petersen Jr. (DDG 121) today with approximately 900 guests in attendance. The ship is the 71st in the Arleigh Burke (DDG 51) class of destroyers and the 33rd built by Ingalls. 
Alfred Gray, a retired general and former commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, was the keynote speaker. “We’re here to honor a great American, a great ship and a great shipyard as well,” Gray said. “Frank is the person who really gave all of the people that you’ve met here today their inspiration to go forward, to be tough about everything, to be disciplined and to never forget that above all, you’re a Marine warrior. It is that kind of spirit and that kind of belief that we honor today by naming this great ship Frank E. Petersen Jr.” 
DDG 121 honors Frank Emmanuel Petersen Jr., who was the Marine Corps’ first African-American aviator and the service’s first African-American general. After entering the Naval Aviation Cadet Program in 1950, Petersen would go on to fly more than 350 combat missions throughout the Korean and Vietnam wars. (Source)
Former Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus chose wisely on this one. LtGen Petersen was a great American.
(LtGen) Petersen retired from the Marine Corps in 1988 after 38 years of service. "At the time of his retirement he was by date of aviator designation the senior ranking aviator in the U.S. Marine Corps and the United States Navy with respective titles of 'Silver Hawk' and 'Gray Eagle'. His date of designation as an aviator also precedes all other aviators in the U.S. Air Force and Army. (Source)

American warships should carry the names of our warriors and our famous battles. I have no problem naming ships after states or cities, there is tradition behind that, but not politicians. Naming a ship after one of our warriors is never a bad idea.

Good choice Mister Secretary.

Tip of the hat to my buddy Carl, callsign Cleveland, who's Facebook post inspired this post.

* PCU = Pre-Commissioning Unit. US Navy warships bear this designation until they are commissioned, only then do they transition to "USS."


  1. I quite agree!
    CVs: Battles, or famous warships
    BBs: States
    Cruisers: Large Cities
    DDs: Naval or USMC Personnel or civilians who contributed to the USN, ie: USS SPERRY
    Attack Subs: fish or marine animals
    SSBNs: States

    1. Don't agree with naming attack boats after fish, unless we're talking sharks. But like Admiral Rickover said, "Fish don't vote."

      One of the criteria which used to be more closely followed for destroyers was that they would be named after those who were awarded the Navy Cross, or higher (which is why we will soon have a USS John Basilone (DDG-122)).

      Capital ships should be named after states, the Virginia-class submarines pack a very big punch, which is why they are capital ships, and quite properly carry the names of states.

      As much as I'd like to have them back, the battleships are gone. Forever.

  2. I've got to admit that naming the LCS's after politicians has been unintentionally appropriate.

    It doesn't do much, no one likes it, it's expensive to maintain, prone to failure and the Navy needed it like a hole in the head.

    1. Pretty fair analogy Paul. The LCS was a mistake from when it was born in the fevered mind of an admiral who should have known better. Then leave it up to desk captains and spreadsheet cowboys (at the Pentagon and in industry) to design and you have a recipe for disaster. If those "things" ever see combat, I truly pray for the crews. They have no chance, no chance at all. Hope I'm wrong.

    2. Paul, it's not prone to failure, that's a feature! And we're going to keep buying them because it keeps shipyard workers employed. Gotta love the defense industrial complex.

  3. Scott and Paul are both right.

    My first ship was the USS Hawkins (DD-873) and was named after William Dean Hawkins, a marine killed at Tarawa.

    Very good post.

    1. I would point out that 1Lt Hawkins earned the Medal of Honor at Tarawa. Which is one of the criteria I mentioned above for naming destroyers. (LtGen Petersen earned the Navy Cross. Thanks PLQ.)

      I do like the idea of naming the Ticonderoga-class cruisers after famous American battles.

  4. Excellent post. If we can't go back to using the names from WWII, then this will work. Though there is such a large selection of famous names, especially carriers, cruisers, submarines, destroyers, well...

    As to the Rickover quote, well, if we went by what he wanted, as soon as a bubblehead graduated, he'd (yes, He) have his nuts cut. Rickover hated 'his' officers and enlisted having 'attachments' like wives and children. He wanted his people to only belong to his service, exclusively.

    And Mabus stuck us with other great fighting ship names, like the Harvey Milk. It's almost like the current SecNavy just needs to undo everything the Famous Mabus did, and go 180 degrees on almost all his policies. We'd might have a pretty good navy after that.

    Now if we could only do something about the name of a certain Zumwalt class ship, grrrrrrr.

    1. I agree most wholeheartedly with changing the name of the third ship in the Zumwalt-class. Naming a warship after that asshole (pardon my French) is unconscionable.

    2. Well, considering that so far the Zumwalts are all show and no gun-go, maybe the name is more representative than we'd like.

      Why can't they just pull the damned no-go-guns and replace them with a real 6" gun system, like we used to have? Maybe even something that can shoot the Army's guided long-range round, along with all the existing 155mm NATO compatible ammunition?

      Too bad they just couldn't automate a 6" revolver gun like from the Des Moines class.

      Or crew the guns with Marines. At least they know how to shoot, and there's a long history of Marines crewing main guns on US warships.

      But let's start with the name thingy first.

      By the way, how has TMH enjoyed your mini-retirement? Has she contemplated what to do with you in a year and a half or so?

    3. The original plan called for guns that could use existing munitions. Then the Poindexters got their sweaty hands on the design and bingo!

      A gun with very expensive ammo (which the Navy has declined to buy) and a gun which CANNOT use existing munitions. Someone really needs to go to jail for that bit of very costly stupidity!

      TMH endures my presence with the patience of a saint. As I'm rather housebound at the moment, it's a bit irksome for both of us. If retirement is like this, I won't do it.

    4. Sarge.
      Part of the pre-retirement discussion has to include openly talking about the balance between alone time, and together time.
      I doubt very much if your retirement plans include any desire to sit around and do nothing.
      That path would lead to madness.

      Also consider whether or not there is going to be a different mix of household chores.

    5. Hhmm, pre-retirement discussion. Good idea actually. My plan is to write a book (or two), continue blogging, play the drums, and the bass, and the guitar, AND do all that without driving The Missus Herself crazy.

      Oh yeah, and visit the kids and grandkids whenever possible.

      Doing nothing ain't in the plan. But you HAVE made me think. Thanks John.

    6. Ha, I see the little garden shed being upgraded to deluxe OldAFSarge size.

      It also depends on what keeps your wife busy during the day. If your retirement venn circles of activity don't negatively intersect her venn circles of activity, it may lead to a peaceful transition.

      Though I am sure her VCoAs will intersect your VCoAs in ways which will please her.

    7. My activities won't impinge on hers, nor will hers on mine.

      But a bigger shed? With heat and lights? With a big wargames table, and a wet bar?

      I may be getting ahead of myself there...

  5. There's something wrong with a post WW2 USN without a carrier named USS Shangri La.

  6. If a ship is to be named for an individual, it should at the very least be a person who’s gone in harm’s way in defense of the country.

  7. "LtGen Petersen 'won' the Navy Cross."

    Come on OAFS, you got it right for 1Lt Hawkins, why did you F it up on the man you are honoring in this post? Other than that one little oops, you did your usual great job.

    Thank you for making this fine American known to me.

    Thanks for the post.
    Paul L. Quandt

    1. Fixed it (and gave you props). You're absolutely right, it ain't a prize one can "win." (Sloppy commenting, I can be guilty of that.)

      Thanks Paul.

    2. Thank you for the hat tip; it wasn't necessary, but I appreciate it.

      How is the eye mending going?

      I may be joining the " husband and wife both at home full-time " club. Any clues on how to make that work well will be very welcome.


    3. The eye is healing, it's a long process, much longer than the ophthalmologist let on. I see him again next Thursday.

      If I get any good ideas on that last bit, I'll let you know. We humans can be bad at that "peaceful coexistence" stuff.

    4. "The eye is healing..."

      Keep up the good work. Slow but steady is good. It may try your ( and TMH's ) patience, but it is good nonetheless. My thoughts and best wishes are with you both.


    5. Not yet, she just hasn't had the time, what with a cat, a dog, and three kids, er, two kids and a fighter pilot underfoot, I'm amazed she has time to breathe.

    6. Just record a sea story or two next time you're on the phone, and send it to me. I'll type it up and you can edit/post it.

  8. Great post, Sarge!

    As far as the BB's go, I wish somebody would clue in the conspiracy nuts who keep saying the Navy is going to reactivate the Iowa and her three sisters. It just 'aint gonna happen.

    1. Ah yes, the reactivation of the Iowa-class BBs, the wet dream of many a nautical enthusiast. The costs would be very high, would they be useful combatants? Of course they would, far better than the LCS or the Zumwalt-class.

      But like you said drjim, ain't gonna happen.

    2. Any dream of reactivation died when the Navy quietly sold and eliminated all the stores of ammo, excess barrels and all the other pieces-parts lying around. Not to mention the loss of all the physical support structure (bases for all the crew and their families, and the repair facilities, ammo bunkers, and such.)

      The Zummies were touted as the 'new battleships,' albeit without any armor. Faster, longer sailing, more powerful armament, better able to survive in today's environment. Yeah, right...

      Even if they tried to get one of the old BBs up and running, they'd have to rape the three other ships for essential parts, and reactivate a foundry or two to make ammo.

      Yes, reactivated BBs with basically a complete rebuild of electronics and some physical plant portions would have been effective combatants even in today's world. Lots of room to turn her secondary and tertiary armament into one gigantic anti-missile/anti-aircraft weapons system, and the basic hull has lots of room to hang all sorts of radar and detection garbage all over it. Of course, that would have been the complete opposite of 'stealthy,' but hey, it could work.

      But, yeah, ain't gonna happen.

      All our money is going into making the Zummies somewhat workable, fixing the Ford's problems, and supporting more and more rebuilds and fixes to the LCSs (but, hey, they finally got an LCS to fire a Hellfire missile, whooooooooo…)

    3. Considering the Navy has dumped ALL the spares, and we lack the capability to manufacture them again, I think it's pretty obvious the Navy has no future plans for the Iowa class ships.

      Two years ago we (well...the Pacific Battleship Center) took possession of well over a hundred 16" practice/dummy shells, packed four to a shipping pallet. Quite impressive to see that much training whoop-ass in one place.

    4. Beans, I saw several proposals to re-arm them as Arsenal Ships, basically remove the 16" guns and refit them with LOTS of vertical launch tubes.

      And even one proposal to put a 'ski jump' on the deck so they could carry a Harrier or two.

    5. Wow, the LCS fired a Hellfire missile! Helicopters have been doing that for ages, Hell, even drones can do that and they cost a LOT less.

      Once the decision was made to let the battlewagons sail into the sunset, big Navy had to make it impossible to bring them back. Otherwise they'd look like idiots...

      Oh wait, all of those LCSs make them look like...


    6. Between the LCS and the Zumwalts, I have lost a lot of my faith in the Navy....

    7. And in the defense industry. Where I work.

    8. Yup. Spent the last half of my career in Aerospace. Couldn't believe some of the stuff I saw, some of it stupendously good, and some not-so-good.

      I knew why things were done a certain way, but just couldn't see why it had to be that way.

    9. You mean like how Big Military shut down the competition over weekly production of A-10 ammo? When first introduced, and until around 1993 they had two suppliers, both producing excellent, better than spec ammo, and they were basically reverse auctioning-off each week's production needs. 1993 came around and suddenly the Big Pentagon and the General Accounting Office shut that down, because it was actually saving lots of money and keeping two production lines in operation.

      As to ships, they should have never sent the Des Moines class to the breakers. Those ships did fantastic service in Korea and Vietnam, and were the epitome of total frickin coolness, but nooooo, can't have gunned cruisers...

    10. Can you say "Peace Dividend"? I knew you could.

      Slick Willie's legacy continues to haunt us.

    11. A couple of Des Moines Class cruisers play large roles in the novel, "Yellow Eyes" written by Ringo and Kratman.

      Well worth the read.

    12. John, yes they did. And Marlene Dietrich has always been one of my favorite actresses.

      Peace Dividend I and Peace Dividend II have pretty much trashed our military.

  9. These boats are probably more expensive than LCS, but at least we're getting something out of them. We have more than 10 LCSs in Sandog with 1000 crew sitting on their ass, with no measurable benefit to our warfighting capability.

    1. But at least the LCSess doen't have to be painted, right? There's some good right there, right?

  10. When I hear about the waste and mismanagement in the DOD I always suggest people re-read President Eisenhowers farewell address to the nation. I believe it is where the term Military/Industrial complex was born. He wasn't our greatest president and probably wasn't our best general ever but the man was onto something in this speech.


Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)
Can't be nice, go somewhere else...

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