By Naval History and Heritage Command, Communication and Outreach Division
The state of Washington is named after President George Washington, who was an early proponent of sea power. He’s quoted as saying, “It follows then as certain as that night succeeds the day, that without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious.” Washington was the 42nd state admitted to the Union, in 1889.
At least 40 ships have been named after the state, its cities, places and people. While only two ships have been named after the state itself, starting with USS Washington (Armored Cruiser No. 11), which was commissioned in 1906, ten ships have been named after the man the state is named for. The newest ship to honor Washington will be the Virginia-class submarine Washington (SSN 787), which is conducting sea trials before its commissioning.
Washington can claim as sons many Naval heroes and leaders, like Richard Francis Gordon, Jr., selected by NASA in October 1963, and who served on both Gemini and Apollo Programs. Additionally, Stephen S. Oswald may not be a household name, but he was born in Seattle, raised in Bellingham, Wash., and graduated from the Naval Academy in 1973. A Naval aviator, Oswald joined NASA in November 1984 as an aerospace engineer and instructor pilot and was selected as an astronaut candidate in June 1985. In total, Oswald has logged over 33 days in space.
Four Naval installations also call the state home. Most notably, Naval Base Kitsap-Bremerton, which is the host command for the Navy’s fleet throughout the Pacific Northwest. Naval Station Everett is the Navy’s most modern shore installation, built in 1994; Naval Air Station Whidbey Island is the home of all Navy tactical electronic attack squadrons flying the EA-18G Growler; and Naval Magazine Indian Island provides operational ordnance logistics in support of Navy, joint and allied forces.
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