Commission Recommends Removing Confederate Names From Two USN Ships

USS Chancellorsville (USN)

Published Sep 14, 2022 4:20 PM by The Maritime Executive

An independent congressional panel has recommended that the U.S. Navy rename two ships that carry the names of Confenderate icons, the start of a wave of changes to remove Confederate names from places of honor across the armed forces. 

The first, the Ticonderoga-class cruiser USS Chancellorsville, is named after the Battle of Chancellorsville, a key Confederate victory in the Civil War. In May 1863, Gen. Robert E. Lee won decisively against a far larger Union force in a series of engagements around Chancellorsville, Virginia, leaving about 18,000 Federal personnel dead and wounded; this opened the door for Lee's invasion of Pennsylvania in the Gettysburg campaign two months later, which cost Union forces an additional 30,000 troops.

The second is the USNS Maury, a Military Sealift Command survey ship named after ex-Navy oceanographer Matthew Fontaine Maury. A pioneer in physical oceanography, Maury headed the U.S. Naval Observatory before the Civil War. At the outset of the war, he resigned his post and joined the Confederacy. He helped negotiate the purchase of the merchant steamer CSS Georgia from a yard in Scotland and converted her into a commerce raider to attack Union shipping (with limited success). 

Renaming these hulls would have a long-term effect. USS Chancellorsville was commissioned in 1989, and the Navy would like to remove her from service within the next four years (like most remaining vessels in her class). However, USNS Maury is six years old and can expect to be in service for decades to come. 

The Naming Commission's recommendation would leave the selection of new names in the hands of Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro. Traditionally, the Secretary of the Navy selects names for new vessels entering the fleet, and the decision would be in keeping with tradition. 

At shoreside facilities, the Commission has recommended removing Maury's name from Maury Hall, an engineering sciences building at the U.S. Naval Academy. It has also recommended removing the name of Confederate Adm. Franklin Buchanan from two other locations on academy grounds.