Navy to com­mis­sion USS Gabrielle Gif­fords

The Washington Times Daily - - AMERICAN SCENE -

MO­BILE | A naval pro­gram that has be­come a tar­get for crit­ics is pre­par­ing to com­mis­sion a new ves­sel named af­ter a well-known shoot­ing sur­vivor.

The USS Gabrielle Gif­fords, con­structed by Austal USA in Mo­bile, Alabama, has com­pleted test­ing in the Gulf of Mex­ico and is sched­uled to be com­mis­sioned in mid-2017. The com­pany handed over the $475 mil­lion ship to the Navy on Fri­day.

Ms. Gif­fords, the for­mer Ari­zona con­gress­woman who was shot in the head dur­ing an as­sas­si­na­tion at­tempt in 2011, 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 war fight­ing.

The 421-foot-long Gabrielle Gif­fords will be the ninth in a series of high-speed ves­sels de­signed to nav­i­gate in shal­low coastal re­gions known as lit­toral wa­ters.

Sen. John McCain, Ari­zona Repub­li­can, 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 be­come a tar­get for con­ser­va­tives who see it as pro­mot­ing stricter gun laws, a cause Ms. Gif­fords has pro­moted.

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