US Navy unveils names of five future vessels

The US Navy will name three future vessels after ships steeped in naval history and two others after a Medal of Honor recipient and a Native American tribe, Kenneth J. Braithwaite, Secretary of the US Navy, revealed on 15 January.

A graphic illustration of the future Virginia-class attack submarine USS Silversides (SSN 807). Photo: US Navy

Braithwaite detailed the announcement on 8 January during a visit to one of the navy’s first heavy frigates and oldest commissioned ship afloat – USS Constitution.

Along with the ship names, Braithwaite also selected individuals who will be recognized as sponsors for several ships he recently named.

The future ships will bear the names and hull numbers:

  • USS Chesapeake (FFG 64)
  • USS Silversides (SSN 807)
  • USS Pittsburgh (LPD 31)
  • USNS Lenni Lenape (T-ATS 9)
  • USS Robert E. Simanek (ESB 7)

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 early 1800. Following an at-sea battle with HMS Shannon in 1813, the ship was captured by the Royal Navy and commissioned her HMS Chesapeake. Braithwaite recently travelled to England where he retrieved a piece of the original frigate from the Chesapeake Mill in Hampshire.  

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.

Photo: US Navy

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What is more, the future San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock will be named USS Pittsburgh (LPD 31) as 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 US Navy from December 1984 to August 2019.

To honor the Lenape Nation of Pennsylvania, a future Navajo-class towing, salvage, and rescue ship will be named USNS Lenni Lenape (T-ATS 9).  This will be the first naval vessel to carry the name of the Lenni Lenape tribe who are indigenous people of the Northeastern Woodlands, and the first tribe to sign a treaty with the United States in 1778.

The future USNS Lenni Lenape will join USNS Muscogee Creek Nation (T-ATS 10), USNS Navajo (T-ATS 6), USNS Cherokee Nation (T-ATS 7), and USNS Saginaw Ojibwe Anishinabek (T-ATS 8) providing a wide range of missions including open ocean towing, oil spill response, humanitarian assistance and wide area search and surveillance.

Also joining the fleet will be the first expeditionary sea base USS Robert E. Simanek (ESB 7), carrying the name of Marine Corps Medal of Honor recipient Private First Class Robert Ernest Simanek who earned the nation’s highest medal for valor for his actions during the Korean War when he unhesitatingly threw himself on a deadly missile to shield his fellow Marines from serious injury or death.  

Simanek, a Detroit, Michigan, native, joined the Marine Corps in August 1951. He was just 22 years old when he sailed for Korea, joining Company F, 2d Battalion, 5th Marines in May 1952 to serve as a rifleman and as a radioman when needed. In addition to the Medal of Honor and Purple Heart, he was also awarded the Korean Service Medal with two bronze stars.