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The Gabby: Navy to commission USS Gabrielle Giffords

  • In this Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016, photo, birds fly by the USS Gabrielle Giffords, a Navy littoral combat ship built at the Austal usa shipyards, docked on the Mobile River in Mobile, Ala. The ship is named in honor of former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle “Gabby” Giffords of Arizona. Giffords, the former Arizona congresswoman who was shot in the head during an assassination attempt in 2011, helped christen the ship in 2015. It is a part of a well-publicized program that congress critics slam as flawed and too expensive, but that Marine leaders defend it as an important new step in marine warfare. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

    (Associated Press)

  • In this Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016, photos, the city scape of Mobile, Ala., seen behind the paired USS Gabrielle Giffords, a Navy littoral combat ship built at the Austal usa shipyards on the Mobile River in Mobile, Ala. The ship is named in honor of former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle “Gabby” Giffords of Arizona. Giffords, the former Arizona congresswoman who was shot in the head during an assassination attempt in 2011, helped christen the ship in 2015. It is a part of a well-publicized program that congress critics slam as flawed and too expensive, but that Marine leaders defend it as an important new step in marine warfare. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

    (Associated Press)

  • In this Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016, a photo, a man walks over a bridge with the city in the background to get on the USS Gabrielle Giffords, a Navy littoral combat ship built at the Austal usa shipyards, docked on the Mobile River in Mobile, Ala. The ship is named in honor of former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle “Gabby” Giffords of Arizona. Giffords, the former Arizona congresswoman who was shot in the head during an assassination attempt in 2011, helped christen the ship in 2015. It is a part of a well-publicized program that congress critics slam as flawed and too expensive, but that Marine leaders defend it as an important new step in marine warfare. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

    (Associated Press)

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MOBILE, Ala. – A navy program that has become a target for critics is the preparation of the commission a new ship named after a famous shooting survivor.

Built 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 the 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 is a part of a well-publicized program that congress critics slam as flawed and too expensive, but that Marine leaders defend it as an important new step in marine warfare.

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

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

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

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

Made of aluminum and with a striking trimaran design, Giffords is armed with missiles, machine guns and fast-firing weapons designed to hit a variety of targets. The normal crew of 40 sailors and officers can be supplemented if needed for assignments.

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 tug boat weeks before.

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