Next US frigate to be named USS Congress

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Another Navy ship will be named in honor of George Washington’s six original frigates.

The Navy’s next frigate will be named the USS Congress, Navy Secretary Kenneth Braithwaite told lawmakers on Wednesday. Braithwaite was testifying about Navy Department readiness along with Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday and Marine Commandant Gen. David Berger.

“I’d like to take this moment to announce that the next Constellation-class frigate will be named … USS Congress to honor and recognize the work that you and your staff do every day to support our sailors, our Marines and the people of the United States of America,” Braithwaite told Senate Armed Services Committee members.

The move follows Braithwaite’s October announcement that the new class offuture guided-missile frigates would pay tribute to the Constellation. The first ship in its class will be the fifth Navy vessel to be named Constellation, which was one of the first ships authorized by Congress in the 1790s.

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Naming a ship after Congress might be unexpected at a time when Washington gridlock has routinely delayed defense budgets and capped military spending. Navy leaders have also clashed with lawmakers in recent years over ships that were broken and over budget, and plans to decommission an aircraft carrier years ahead of schedule.

But Braithwaite said the sea services look to lawmakers for “the strong oversight partnership that has enabled our maritime strength ever since Congress authorized the construction of our first six ships, the mighty American frigates of 1794.”

Aside from the Constellation and Congress, the four other original frigates were named President, Chesapeake, United States and Constitution. The Constitution, known as “Old Ironsides,” remains the world’s oldest commissioned warship afloat.

Frigates aren’t the only Navy vessels given traditional names under Braithwaite’s leadership. Last month, he announced that a pair of Virginia attack submarines would be named for two World War II-era boats, the Tang and Wahoo.

The original frigate Congress captured four small enemy ships during the War of 1812. It later served in the Gulf of Mexico and the South Atlantic.

The frigate was also the first Navy ship to visit China. As The Drive noted, the nod “seems like notable symbolism given the ever-growing importance of that country, and the greater Indo-Pacific Region, in U.S. military planning, as a whole.”

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