The United States Navy has announced plans to commission a new vessel named after a well-known survivor of the 2011 shootings in Tucson.
The USS Gabrielle Giffords will be named after the Arizona congresswoman who was shot in the head outside of a Safeway grocery store in Casas Adobes in an assassination attempt that left six dead and twelve wounded.
Her miraculous survival and recovery has served as an inspiration for the country throughout these past five years, and Giffords now serves as a passionate gun reform advocate.
The navy ship has completed it’s testing in the Gulf of Mexico and is scheduled to be commissioned in the middle of next year. The $475 million ship, constructed by Austral USA in Mobile, Alabama, was handed over to the Navy last week.
In 2015, Giffords helped christen the navy ship, which is part of a widely debated program. Critics claim the navy’s program is too expensive and flawed, while Navy leaders say it’s critical in advancing naval warfighting.
The new warship is 421 feet long and is the ninth in a series of high-speed vessels, specially designed to navigate in the shallow coastal regions known as littoral waters. $12.4 billion has been spent for 26 littoral combat ships, something Arizona Senator John McCain has criticized.
The Navy says it selected the ship’s name in honor of Giffords and the perseverance, courage and resilience she demonstrated after the tragedy.
The ship was constructed from aluminum and is armed with missiles, machine guns and other weapons designed to take down a variety of targets. It has a normal crew size of 40 sailors and officers.