Navy Announces USS Gabrielle Giffords

                                                                                                     (Image Credit: ABC)

The Navy's newest ship will be the USS Gabrielle Giffords.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus made the announcement at a Pentagon ceremony today, calling Giffords someone whose name is synonymous with courage.

Former Rep. Gabby Giffords looked on at the Pentagon as Mabus made the announcement in a public ceremony. Also in attendance at this afternoon's brief ceremony in the Pentagon Courtyard was Roxana Green, the mother of 9-year-old Christina-Taylor Green.

Christina-Taylor was among those killed in last year's deadly shooting rampage in Tucson that targeted Giffords as she met constituents outside a supermarket. Roxana Green will be the ship's sponsor.

Giffords is still recovering from the gunshot wounds to her head that she suffered during last January's shooting incident. She stepped down from Congress two weeks ago.

The ship named today for her, which has yet to be built, will be the Navy's 10th Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), a new kind of ship designed to bring the Navy fighting power into shallow coastal areas.  The first two ships in this class were called Freedom and Independence, but the conventional practice since then has been to name the other ships in the class after a city.

"It's very appropriate that LCS 10 be named for someone who has become synonymous with courage, who has inspired the nation with remarkable resiliency and showed the possibilities of the human spirit," said Mabus.

Mabus said the notion occurred to him that this would be a "fitting tribute" not only to Giffords but to Navy families because she was a Navy spouse.  Her husband, Mark Kelly, was until recently an astronaut and Navy pilot.

"She called me," he said, recalling a conversation they had before she was shot. "I'd been in office less than a week telling me that she was a Navy spouse that she wanted to help the Navy any way she could in Congress, but also that she expected me to take good care of the Navy."

The Navy has named ships after living people with some recent examples being the aircraft carrier USS George HW Bush and the submarine USS Jimmy Carter.

Giffords also visited the White House earlier in the day to watch President Obama sign the last piece of legislation she sponsored as a member of Congress.

The Ultralight Aircraft Smuggling Prevention Act of 2012 was passed late last month and gives law enforcement broader authority to counter illicit drug trafficking on U.S. borders.