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.