Many vessels named after women have seen military service, often serving with distinction. Most of these were named in civilian service and then subsequently commissioned into the United States Navy.
Few ships have been named after women by the military. Ships often are named after people who served in the Navy or who served in the government. Women have only recently been in such prominent positions, and therefore few have been so honored by the Navy.
See also, List of ships of the United States Navy.
The gunboat Lady Washington was commissioned in 1776 and was the first American armed ship named for a woman. She was a row galley, a small wooden river gunboat, built in 1776 by New York State to defend Hudson River, named in honor of Martha Washington. She remained active, under General Washington's command, through June 1777.
The sidewheel steamer Harriet Lane was launched in 1857. She was the first armed ship in service with the U.S. Navy to be named for a woman. Originally a Revenue Cutter, she was named for Harriet Lane, niece of President James Buchanan, who served as Buchanan's White House hostess. The ship was transferred to the Navy in 1858 and was later returned to Revenue Cutter Service. She was transferred again to Navy when the American Civil War began, 1861 and was captured by Confederates at Galveston, Texas Jan 1863. She was not returned to government service after end of war.
The sternwheel river steamer Bloomer was launched in 1856. Apparently this name was retained from a former name; she was named for feminist Amelia Bloomer. Bloomer was captured from Confederates in 1862 and served in the U.S. Navy from 1863–65.
The harbor tug Sacagawea (YT-241), 1942, was the first instance of a Maritime Commission's assignment of woman's name to naval vessel. She was named for Sacagawea, a Shoshone woman. The name was assigned to a tug acquired by Maritime Commission for the Navy; it ended up being retained by Maritime Commission and was never commissioned in the Navy.
The following is a list of ships named in honor of women which served in the Continental Navy:
The following is a list of ships named in honor of women in the United States Navy:
- USS Pocahontas (YT-266), a harbor tug commissioned in 1942 and named for Pocahontas.
- Five transports commissioned in 1942:
- USS Sacagawea (YT-326) (later designation of YTM-326), a harbor tug that served in Charleston harbor from 1942 to 1945.
- USS Watseka (YT-387), a 1944 harbor tug named for a Potawatomi woman.
- USS Higbee (DD-806), 1945 a Gearing-class destroyer named for Lenah S. Higbee, Superintendent of Navy Nurse Corps 1911–1922, Higbee served in Fast Carrier Force. She was the first ship laid down, christened, and commissioned for a woman who had served in the U.S. Navy, and the first to see combat so named.
- USS Hopper (DDG-70), 1996. Built and commissioned at Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine, the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer is named for RDML Grace Murray Hopper, a computer technology pioneer who led the Navy into the digital age.
- USS Roosevelt (DDG-80) is explicitly named for both Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt
- USNS Sacagawea (T-AKE-2) was announced in 2000. She is the second of a new class of replenishment ships.
- USNS Mary Sears (T-AGS 65), an oceanographic survey ship, was launched in October 2000 and is still active as of 2014[update]. She was named for Commander Mary Sears.
- USNS Amelia Earhart (T-AKE-6) is a sister ship of Sacagawea and launched in 2008.
- USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS-10), an Independence-class littoral combat ship, named for retired Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.
- RV Sally Ride (T-AGOR-28), a planned Neil Armstrong-class oceanographic research ship named for Sally Ride.
Note that even though the name Shenandoah is an American Indian word meaning "Daughter of the Stars," the navy airship USS Shenandoah (ZR-1) and other ships are named for the river Shenandoah in Virginia.
Many of these ships served in one or both of World War I, World War II, and some also during the interwar period. Others served in the Stone Fleet, or were prizes during the Age of Sail. The names often came from a previous owner and all were commissioned in the Navy. Some vessels may have been named by the Navy, although it has not been determined which, if any, the Navy specifically named. (incomplete)
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