Ship Naming: The Scam Continues

John P. “Blurtha” Murtha continues to haunt the services from the grave, thanks to the U.S. Navy. The long-serving congressman and retired Marine has not been dead three months and it has been decided he will be immortalized on the side of the U.S. Navy ship.

Is that my cat coughing up a hair ball? NOLA is a Katrina rescue. She knows a scam when she sees it.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus decided LPD 26 will be the John P. Murtha.

They give out names like party favors.

There remains an obsession with Murtha. (We’re guilty, too) Despite his Vietnam Marine status (Bronze Star, “V,” Purple Hearts) and his ownership of the powerful House appropriations defense subcommittee, he was a questionable friend to DoD and seemed to toy with the services out of some bizarre boredom. The Defense Department went to great lengths to curry favor despite his unpredictable nature.

Has the Navy forgotten the ethical questions that plagued this man? Have they forgotten it was Blurtha who rushed to judgment stopping just short of calling the Haditha Marines murderers? His irresponsible statements reverberated throughout their legal ordeal. It is Blurtha who slammed AFRICOM (ok, so have we) for the sake of slamming AFRICOM.

And they name a ship after the guy.

The San Antonio class of amphibious transport dock ship is normally named after cities. This class includes the

  • San Antonio,
  • New Orleans,
  • Mesa Verde,
  • Green Bay,
  • New York,
  • San Diego,
  • Anchorage,
  • Arlington,
  • Somerset
  • and now the John P. Murtha

Some say the names are supposed to denote hardiness and survival. The New York, Arlington and Somerset were the sites of the September 11 calamities. An earlier class of LPD also was named for cities.

But buckin’ the naming convention is one thing at which the Navy excels. Another recent example is the Virginia class submarine that will be named for the retired and very much alive Virginia Sen. John Warner. (The Virginia class subs are named states—and Warner.)

Despite some plan the Navy may have, this ad hoc, target-of-opportunity approach to naming vessels comes at the cost of inspiring a Navy that battles morale deficits.

(Would you want to serve on the John P. Murtha?)

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