Navy secretary bends rules about ship-naming to honor Democratic politician

Mabus, who has previously been accused of politicizing the ship-naming process, announced Monday that the destroyer will be named after Carl Levin, a former Democratic U.S. senator from Michigan who is still alive and did not serve in the U.S. military.

Mabus disregarded Navy ship-naming rules stipulating that destroyers should be named for deceased members of the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard, including secretaries of the Navy.

The announcement prompted a hasty inquiry from Rep. Duncan Hunter (R., Calif.), a former Marine, who asked Mabus to explain the decision. Hunter expressed concern in a Tuesday letter to the Navy secretary that the decision could constitute a “politicization” of the ship-naming process.

“I would like an explanation as to how this decision properly reflects Navy ship-naming rules,” Hunter wrote, citing a new report from the Congressional Research Service laying out the service’s ship-naming rules. “It is important that the Navy adhere to its own ship naming rules and take every effort necessary to avoid politicization of this process.”