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On This Day
Last Updated: Saturday, 1 April 2006, 15:07 GMT
US Department of Defence defends submarine name
Scorpene type submarine under construction
New Virginia class fast attack costs US taxpayers $3.2 billion
Strengthening relations between wartime allies basis for naming latest US Virginia class after British Princess.

A long, black submarine lurks beneath the ocean waves, carrying a full arsenal of ship-killing weapons. No other class of warship can find it, fight it, or even defend against it. If current US military planners have their way, the latest of these fearsome weapons will be named the USS Princess Diana.

"We have a destroyer named after Winston Churchill, and the 72nd Secretary of the Navy was named England (Gordon England), why can't we honor the late Princess Diana with the power and majesty of a Virginia class US sub," says Navy Spokesman Andrew Williams.

Veteran submariners are strongly inclined to disagree. "What's next, we name a carrier after the Queen?" objects Captain Wilfred Miller. "I understand political payoffs are a necessary evil but couldn't we honorably bestow the moniker Princess Diana on a cargo dingy or a humanitarian resupply vessel?"

"Think of the positives," urged Andrew Woolhouse, Director of Citizens Against Landmines, Poverty, and Social Disenfranchisement. "Consider the moral effect on the enemy when one of their warships is sunk by the Princess Diana."

When the U. S. Navy first expanded out from coast defense, American ships were named according to rules established by Navy Secretary Theodore Roosevelt. Submarines were originally given a letter prefix, working through the alphabet until the T-class. Someone pointed out that the letter "U" was next and the Germans had always called their subs U-boats. The US Navy promptly switched to fish -- USS Nautilus, Squalus, Wahoo, Bonito, Gato, Albacore, Skipjack, Scorpion, Thresher.

Some exceptions did exist; one carrier was named "Shangri-La" after a fictional land, a cruiser was named "Canberra" after a foreign city. Originally armored (heavy) cruisers were also named after States and Battle cruisers after Battles and Famous Ships. (The first large American aircraft carriers -- Lexington and Saratoga -- were built on converted battle cruiser hulls, and later carriers followed this practice.)

With the evolution of naval technology, new ship types replaced others, and the naming system changed accordingly. As warships became incredibly expensive, politicians were key in obtaining funding. Accordingly, US submarines began taking the names of states instrumental in their existence. The first of the post-Seawolf class subs was named Virginia, the next Texas. And now, in a move designed to win British public approval, Princess Diana.

Williams insists, "Diana was a fearless crusader, a brave and strong individual. I see no reason why this opportunity to show solidarity with our mates across the pond should find objection."


April fool from



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