It’s that time of year again when Lee Greenwood’s “God bless the USA,” is playing on the radio, the sweet smell of BBQ is in the air, and family and friends are gathering at the local park to watch the fireworks show in honor of our nation’s birthday.
As we celebrate our 240 years of independence, let us remember the true meaning of this holiday. When most Americans think of the 4th of July, “America,” “freedom,” and “independence” are three words that typically come to mind. They represent our power, strength, and fortitude, so it’s no surprise that there are some U.S. Navy ships bearing these names.
In May 1777, USS America a 74-gun man-of-war ship was gifted to France in appreciation of their partnership with the new nation the United States of America. The current USS America (LHA 6) is the fourth ship to be named after our country. She is an amphibious assault ship that provides forward presence and power projection supporting Marines and their aviation assets as part of an Expeditionary Strike Group or supporting smaller scale operations.
Three navy ships have been named for the notion of freedom. The first USS Freedom was a member of the Navy’s Cruisers and Transport Force. A second Freedom (IX-43) was an auxiliary schooner assigned to the U.S. Naval Academy where she served in a noncommissioned status through 1962. The current USS Freedom (LCS 1) is a Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) designed to defeat maritime threats and support sea control in coastal waters. This Freedom is a fast, maneuverable, and networked surface ship that is multi-mission capable.
USS Independence (LCS 2) is the sixth ship to be named for the concept of independence. Independence is also an LCS, but of a different variant with a unique trimaran design. Its use of interchangeable technology allows for operational flexibility supporting various mission requirements in coastal waters.
All three ships are currently defending our nation just as their predecessors did before them. While many of us will take this time to come together and celebrate the holiday, please remember the thousands of Sailors and Marines who are deployed around the world protecting our freedom.
Through their service and sacrifice, Sailors and Marines continue to make every day Independence Day for the United States of America while serving at sea, in the air, or ashore.
For more history and information on these ships, please visit the Naval History & Heritage Command website.