Navy Secretary Ray Mabus says in a letter that he has the power to name warships as he chooses, in response to a former Marine and congressman who charges he has politicized the process.
Rep. Duncan Hunter, California Republican and House Armed Services Committee member, wrote Mr. Mabus to question the naming of an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer after former Sen. Carl Levin, Michigan Democrat and chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
The naming followed a pattern of Mr. Mabus, a former Democratic governor of Mississippi, of naming warships after Democrats and liberal activists, some of whom had little or no link to the military.
Mr. Mabus did not respond directly to Mr. Hunter. His public affairs officer spoke for him, sending a letter to Mr. Hunter which says the Navy secretary may deviate from official ship-naming conventions.