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US Navy expands naming of USS McCain to include Sen. John McCain

In this Jan. 22, 2017, photo provided by U.S. Navy, the USS John S. McCain conducts a patrol in the South China Sea while supporting security efforts in the region. The guided-missile destroyer collided with a merchant ship on Monday, Aug. 21, in waters east of Singapore and the Straits of Malacca. (James Vazquez/U.S. Navy via AP)

PHOENIX — The U.S. Navy announced on Wednesday that it would expand the name of the USS John S. McCain to include U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), in addition to his father and grandfather.

“As a warrior and a statesman who has always put country first, Sen. John McCain never asked for this honor, and he would never seek it,” Navy Secretary Richard Spencer said in a statement.

“But we would be remiss if we did not etch his name alongside his illustrious forebears, because this country would not be the same were it not for the courageous service of all three of these great men.”

The announcement came as Spencer addressed sailors aboard the USS John S. McCain in Yokosuka, Japan. The ship now honors three generations of McCains.

McCain’s grandfather served as a distinguished carrier task force commander of World War II, while his father served as the former Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Command.

The Arizona senator served as a Naval Aviator during the Vietnam War, when he was shot down and kept as a prisoner of war for more than five years.

“My father and grandfather dedicated their entire lives to their naval service,” McCain said in a statement.

“The greatest honor of my life was to serve in the company of heroes, and I look back with incredible gratitude for my formative years in the Navy. I hope the generations of sailors who will serve aboard the USS McCain will find the same fulfillment that my family does in serving a cause greater than oneself.”

The USS McCain, a destroyer, was commissioned in 1994. It was “forward-deployed” to Yokosuka, Japan as part of the U.S. Seventh Fleet.

Spencer told reporters after the ceremony that changes to naval practices recommended after the accidents have been 78 percent implemented. Some are completed, while others such as instilling a culture of continuous learning will take two years.

Seventeen sailors died after the USS Fitzgerald and then the McCain collided with commercial vessels in separate incidents in June and August of 2017.

Scaffolding covers the mast of the McCain as work to repair the ship, which had a gaping hole in its side, continues at Yokosuka Naval Base south of Tokyo. Spencer said the Navy hopes to put the ship back out to sea next spring.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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