Navy to commission USS Gabrielle Giffords
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.