U.S. Navy Report: In Ship-Naming, Exceptions Are Norm
Jul. 19, 2012 - 09:21PM | By CHRISTOPHER P. CAVAS
President George Washington agreed in 1794 that the first six frigates of the U.S. Navy be named for principles or symbols found in the U.S. Constitution. Drawing from a list of suggestions, he chose the first five names, Constitution, United States, President, Congress and Constellation (referring to the stars representing states on the American flag).
Funding for the sixth ship was delayed, and when it came time to select a name, Benjamin Stoddert, the first Navy secretary, chose Chesapeake — a distinct departure from the original group. To this day, no one knows why Stoddert made his choice.
What is clear, however, is that with his first choice for a ship name, the secretary corrupted an established naming policy.