The Naval History of Puerto Rico

By Naval History and Heritage Command Communication and Outreach Division

With a proud heritage, Puerto Rico has a distinguished reputation with U.S. Navy history. At least seven naval vessels have been named for Puerto Rico’s various cities, places, and people – with their capital city’s name being used for two different vessels. The most recent, USS San Juan III (SSN 751), is a Los Angeles class attack submarine.

One of Puerto Rico’s most notable vessels, USS Ponce (LPD 15), was commissioned on May 17, 1971. The last ship of the Austin-class amphibious transport dock ships, Ponce completed 27 deployments in the Atlantic Fleet. Along with a 5-year deployment to the U.S. 5th Fleet, the ship is deserving of its nickname “Proud Lion.”

Great and honorable Sailors have come from Puerto Rico:

  • Vice Adm. Diego Hernández, former commander of USS John F. Kennedy (CVN 67) and the first Hispanic appointed a deputy commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).
  • Rear Adm. George Mayer, a native of San Juan, graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1975 and went on to peruse academic instructions in aerodynamic principles; eventually becoming a jet pilot for the F/A-18 Hornet.
  • Navy Capt. Haydee Javier Kimmich, served her first 3 years in the U.S. Air Force. She later joined the U.S. Navy and became the Chief of Orthopedics at the Navy Medical Center in Bethesda, VA.

Learn more about the naval history of Puerto Rico below! To download and print this graphic, click here. If you’d like to learn more about the naval history of your state, visit here.