The Denver Post - - NATION & WORLD -

mo­bile, ala.» A naval pro­gram that has be­come a target for crit­ics is pre­par­ing to com­mis­sion the USS Gabrielle Gif­fords, named for the U.S. politi­cian who sur­vived an as­sas­si­na­tion at­tempt in 2011.

The USS Gabrielle Gif­fords, con­structed by Austal USA in Mo­bile, Ala., has com­pleted test­ing in the Gulf of Mex­ico and is sched­uled to be com­mis­sioned in mid-2017. The ship cost $475 mil­lion.

Gif­fords was shot in the head dur­ing a mass shoot­ing in Ari­zona in 2011 and helped chris­ten the ship in 2015. It’s part of a hotly de­bated pro­gram that con­gres­sional crit­ics slam as flawed and too ex­pen­sive but that Navy lead­ers de­fend as a crit­i­cal new step in naval warfight­ing.

The 421-foot-long Gif­fords will be the ninth in a se­ries of high­speed ves­sels de­signed to nav­i­gate in shal­low coastal re­gions known as lit­toral wa­ters. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has cited the $12.4 bil­lion spent for 26 lit­toral com­bat ships as the worst ex­am­ple of waste­ful Pen­tagon spend­ing.

The ship’s name also has been a target for con­ser­va­tives who see it as pro­mot­ing stricter gun laws.

The USS Gabrielle Gif­fords, a Naval lit­toral com­bat ship, was built on the Mo­bile River in Mo­bile, Ala. Brynn An­der­son, AP

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