What’s in a Name?

What’s in a Name?
January 01, 2018

For centuries, the United States Navy has participated in the tradition of naming their ships. Although the naming conventions have evolved throughout the years, the names usually fall into one of four categories:


  • Service members who have been honored for their heroism in war or achievement of peace (such as Medal of Honor recipients)
  • U.S. Navy leaders
  • National leaders such as American presidents and members of Congress
  • Famous ship designers or builders
  • Explorers and pioneers


  • Famous battles
  • Historic sites


  • States of the union
  • Cities, towns or counties
  • Rivers, capes, mountains and islands

Previous Ships:

  • Ships that have distinguished themselves in service
  • Ships lost in wartime

On April 14, 2018, Littoral Combat Ship 17, the future USS INDIANAPOLIS, will be christened in Marinette, Wisconsin. Then, the following week, the ship will be launched into the Menominee River. Next up, the ship will undergo additional outfitting and testing. LCS 17 will be the fourth ship to bear the name Indianapolis. It’s not only named for an American midsized city, but also honors the extraordinary legacy of service that the name holds. The ship will serve as a reminder of the incredible bravery and sense of duty with which our men and women in uniform serve.

One of the previous USS Indianapolis ships, CA-35, is best known for its role in World War II. It was trusted with significant and risky missions such as escorting convoys and attacking enemy submarines. Indianapolis even delivered parts and nuclear material for atomic bombs at the end of World War II.

The ship’s service ended when it was sunk by a Japanese torpedo minutes after midnight July 30, 1945. Only 316 of the 1,195 sailors serving aboard the ship survived after five days afloat in the Pacific Ocean. Indianapolis earned an impressive 10 battle stars for the ship’s distinguished World War II service.

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