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Navy task force says warships named after ‘racist, insensitive persons’ should be changed’

USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). (U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 3rd Class Joshua Word/Released)
February 08, 2021

In a report by Task Force One Navy released last week, the Navy is recommending that the service go farther than an existing mandate to rename warships and facilities named for Confederate leaders, and should also “identify assets named after racist, derogatory or culturally insensitive persons, events or language” and rename them.

Task Force One Navy, or TF1N, was formed last summer to address racism, sexism, and other forms of bias within the service. In its final report published Wednesday, the task force said, “Certain Navy ship names have been highlighted by Congress and in the media for connections to confederate or white supremacist ideologies.”

The TF1N final report listed, among its recommendations, that the Navy begin a review of process “to Identify and Rename Navy Assets in Need of Modernization Consistent with Navy Core Values.” The report said the review should “identify assets honoring those associated with the Confederacy and identify assets named after racist, derogatory or culturally
insensitive persons, events or language.”

The report comes in addition to a provision in the 2021 defense budget, known as the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), requiring the Secretary of Defense to establish a “commission relating to assigning, modifying, or removing of names, symbols, displays, monuments, and paraphernalia to assets of the Department of Defense that commemorate the Confederate States of America or any person who served voluntarily with the Confederate States of America.”

While the TF1N report does not list any specific Navy warships or facilities to be renamed, Business Insider noted the language of the recommendation could expand beyond that of the NDAA’s language, to include Navy warships like the USS Chancellorsville (CG-62), a Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser, named after the Civil War Battle of Chancellorsville, which the Confederacy won.

The TF1N recommendations could also include the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74), which was named after former Mississippi Democratic Sen. John C. Stennis. Business Insider reported Stennis was a proponent of segregation. The USS Chancellorsville was commissioned in November of 1989. The USS John C. Stennis was commissioned in December of 1995.

The report states, “The committee would compile the lists of names for review, delegate as needed (e.g., requesting installation commanders to provide lists of installations buildings and streets named after persons pursuant to OPNAVINST 5030.12H); coordinate with ethics and history experts to identify assets for renaming; serve as a central repository for questions and renaming requests; and propose new names.”

The report further states the service should maintain a list of asset names, and “efforts must be taken to keep the list up to date.”