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Why Navy History Matters to Mississippi

By Annalisa Underwood, Naval History and Heritage Command Communication and Outreach Division

Mississippi, named for the Mississippi River which forms its western boundary, was the 20th state admitted to the Union in 1817.

The name, roughly translated from Native American folklore, means “Father of the Waters,” which makes it fitting that more than 30 ships have been named after this great state and its cities, people, and places. Five ships bear the state’s name, dating back to 1841 when the first Mississippi, a side-wheel steamer, was commissioned. During her time, she saw action in both the Mexican and Civil Wars. The most recent ship of this namesake is the Virginia-class fast-attack submarine USS Mississippi (SSN 782) of Submarine Squadron 1, one of the 18 fast-attack subs assigned at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

Mississippi’s location along the Gulf of Mexico make it an ideal spot for Navy assets in the sea, land, and air. Home to Naval Construction Battalion Center Gulfport, Mississippi, the U.S. Navy’s Seabees provide services and material in support of Naval Construction Force Units, to include Amphibious Construction Fleet Units and the Maritime Prepositioning Force. At Naval Air Station Meridian, Mississippi, Sailors and Marines are trained in aviation and related technical fields.

Did you know that Mississippi is home to a handful of notable people with ties to the U.S. Navy? John S. McCain,Sr., a distinguished carrier task force commander during World War II, was born in Teoc, Miss. A Congressional resolution posthumously appointed him to the rank of admiral, effective on the date of his death, Sept. 6, 1945. Ray Mabus, the 75th Secretary of the Navy, was born in Ackerman, Miss. Since World War I, Mabus has been the longest to serve as leader of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corp.

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