Welcome back: Chesapeake, Silversides, Pittsburgh

I’ve said it before, and I’ll repeat it, I think that traditional ship names for warships need to be recycled. That goes for any fleet, not just the U.S. Navy. While current SECNAV Kenneth J. Braithwaite no doubt is updating his Linkedin and Jobs.com accounts in preparation for the new administration, he at least chalked up some great ship names last week.

The future ships will bear the names and hull numbers:

USS Chesapeake (FFG 64), Constellation-class frigate.
USS Silversides (SSN 807), Virginia-class attack submarine.
USS Pittsburgh (LPD 31), San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock.
USNS Lenni Lenape (T-ATS 9), Navajo-class towing, salvage, and rescue ship.
USS Robert E. Simanek (ESB 7), Puller-class Expeditionary Sea Base.

While Simanek, named for a Korean War Marine hero, and Lenape, named after the first tribe to sign a treaty with the United States in 1778, are new names to the Naval List, the other three vessels have been there numerous times. Chesapeake, going back to 1799, has appeared four times, Silversides twice (both to other subs) and Pittsburgh four times, going back to a Civil War ironclad.

As detailed by the Navy

The future Constellation-class frigate USS Chesapeake (FFG 64) will be named for one of the first six Navy frigates authorized by the Naval Act of 1794. The first USS Chesapeake served with honor against the Barbary Pirates in the early 1800s.

To honor the Silent Service, the future Virginia-class attack submarine USS Silversides (SSN 807) will carry the name of a WWII Gato-class submarine. The first Silversides (SS 236) completed 14 tours beneath the Pacific Ocean spanning the entire length of WWII. She inflicted heavy damage on enemy shipping, saved downed aviators, and even drew enemy fire to protect a fellow submarine. A second Silversides (SSN 679) was a Sturgeon-class submarine that served during the Cold War. This will be the third naval vessel to carry the name Silversides. The name comes from a small fish marked with a silvery stripe along each side of its body.

The future San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock USS Pittsburgh (LPD 31) will be the fifth Navy vessel to bear the name. The first was an ironclad gunboat that served during the American Civil War. The second USS Pittsburgh (CA 4) was an armored cruiser that served during WWI, and a third USS Pittsburgh (CA 72) was a Baltimore-class cruiser that served during WWII – supporting the landing at Iwo Jima. The fourth USS Pittsburgh (SSN 720) was a Los Angeles-class submarine that served the Navy from December 1984 to August 2019.

I only wish that Pittsburgh could have been used on a combatant, but at least it falls in line with the naming convention of the current crop (and previous Austin– and Raleigh classes) of LPDs, which are all named after well-known large cities.

Hopefully, the new SECNAV will keep the theme going and not revert to the sins of Mr. Mabus, who was infamous for naming ships after non-serving politicans and labor/LGBT leaders.

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