Jenkins proposes submarine be named for Elizabethton

By Thomas Wilson
STAR STAFF
twilson@starhq.com

   U.S. Rep. William Jenkins, R-1st District, has requested the United States Secretary of the Navy consider naming a submarine after the city of Elizabethton.
   Jenkins made the request in mid-September in a letter to Secretary of the Navy Gordon R. England. The Congressman included information about "the rich history of the city of Elizabethton from settlement of this nation to the Revolutionary War" in his request to England.
   "Letters are sent to the Navy and at some point (the secretary) does make a decision on what they will be named," said Karen Smith, public affairs staff assistant with the Secretary of the Navy's office in Washington, D.C.
   The Los Angeles Class Attack Submarine USS Greeneville was named for the city of Greeneville, Tenn., after a similar request was made by former Congressman James H. Quillen. The USS Greeneville was launched in 1994 and commissioned into service 17 months later.
   The submarine made international news in February 2001, when the submarine's stern collided with the Japanese vessel "Ehime Maru" approximately nine miles south of Diamond Head off Honolulu, Hawaii. Nine of the 35 Ehime Maru crew members were killed in the incident.
   Congress authorized legislation in 1819 formally placing the responsibility for assigning names to the Navy's ships in the hands of the Secretary of the Navy.
   According to U.S. Naval history accounts, submarines began to enter the U.S. Navy fleet in 1900. The first was named Holland in honor of John Holland, submarine designer and builder.
   Later submarines were, at first, given such names as Grampus, Salmon, and Porpoise, but were also named for venomous and stinging creatures, such as Adder, Tarantula, and Viper.
   Submarine names changed in 1911, however, and carried alpha- numeric names such as A-1, C-1, H-3, L-7, and the like until 1931, when fish and denizens of the deep once more became their name source.
   Into the mid-1970s, attack submarines continued to be named for sea creatures, though a few were named for U.S. legislators.
   Ships of the more recent Los Angeles class bear the names of American cities, according to the U.S. Navy's Web site detailing the history of ship naming.
   One exception in the Los Angeles class is Hyman G. Rickover, which honors the man who has been called "the father of the nuclear Navy."