Navy To Commission USS Gabrielle Giffords - - Oklahoma City, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports |


Navy To Commission USS Gabrielle Giffords

Posted: Updated:
Landing pad of the USS Gabrielle Giffords. Nov. 30, 2016. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson) Landing pad of the USS Gabrielle Giffords. Nov. 30, 2016. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
MOBILE, Alabama -

A naval program that has become a target for critics is preparing to commission a new vessel named after a well-known shooting survivor. 

Constructed by Austal USA in Mobile, Alabama, the USS Gabrielle Giffords has completed testing in the Gulf of Mexico and is scheduled to be commissioned in mid-2017. The company handed over the $475 million ship to the Navy on Friday. 

Giffords, the former Arizona congresswoman who was shot in the head during an assassination attempt in 2011, helped christen the ship in 2015. It’s part of a hotly debated program that congressional critics slam as flawed and too expensive but that Navy leaders defend as a critical new step in naval warfighting. 

The 421-foot-long Giffords will be the ninth in a series of high-speed vessels designed to navigate in shallow coastal regions known as littoral waters. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has cited the $12.4 billion spent for 26 littoral combat ships as the worst example of wasteful Pentagon spending. 

The ship’s name also has become a target for conservatives who see it as promoting stricter gun laws, a cause Giffords has promoted. Some critics lampooned the ship as being gun-free, a bit of parody and fake news that was debunked on 

The Navy said it chose to name the ship in honor of Giffords because of the perseverance she showed after the shooting. 

“Courage comes in many, many forms - physical, mental, spiritual and political. Gabby has truly modeled courage and resilience,” Vice Admiral Philip Cullom said at the christening ceremony. 

At the ceremony in 2015, Giffords said she was “proud to support our armed forces” in Congress, CBS Mobile affiliate WKRG reported. 

“I love the Navy. I even married a sailor,” she said, with her husband, former astronaut Capt. Mark Kelly, by her side. 

Jill Biden, the wife of Vice President Joe Biden, said, “Wherever the USS Gabrielle Giffords travels, the world will know it is unrelenting. It is unstoppable. It is the full definition of the patriotism that defines the greatest country in the world.” 

Biden broke a ceremonial champagne bottle against the vessel at the christening ceremony last year and served as the sponsor of the ship, according to WKRG. 

Constructed from aluminum and featuring a distinctive trimaran design, the Giffords is armed with missiles, machine guns and fast-firing weapons designed to hit a variety of targets. Its normal crew of 40 sailors and officers can be supplemented as needed for missions. 

A sister ship of the Giffords, the USS Montgomery, sustained hull damage in October while navigating the Panama Canal. The same ship was damaged in a collision with a tugboat weeks before. 

© 2016 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Special Features

iPhone App

Get breaking news, weather, sports & video directly on your iPhone.


Breaking political news & the latest headlines from the state capitol & D.C.


See where weather is happening using our live interactive radars.


Spend your money wisely with reviews of new tech gadgets & the latest news in technology.

TV Schedule

Need to know what's on TV? Check out our television schedule.

Live Radar

WARN Interactive
Powered by Frankly
News 9
7401 N. Kelley Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK 73111 is proud to provide Oklahomans with timely and relevant news and information, sharing the stories, pictures and loves of Oklahomans across our great state.
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2018 KWTV. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.