Sally Ride, shown in a NASA portrait, became the first American woman in space, June 18, 1983, when she was launched into orbit aboard the space shuttle Challenger as a member of the first 5-person crew. (AP photo/Nasa)
Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced Friday that a new Navy ship will be named after local astronaut Sally Ride.
Mabus said the future ship – dubbed R/V Sally Ride (AGOR 28) – will be a Neil Armstrong-class auxiliary general oceanographic research or “AGOR” ship. Traditionally, AGORs are named for nationally recognized leaders in exploration and science.
The ship will honor the memory of Ride, a renowned professor, scientist and innovator at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD. Ride was also the first woman and youngest person in space, and later served as director of NASA’s Office of Exploration.
Ride, 61, died last July after a 17-month battle with pancreatic cancer. She passed away peacefully in her La Jolla home surrounded by family and friends.
The RV/Sally Ride is the first academic research ship to be named in honor of a woman.
"Sally Ride's career was one of firsts and will inspire generations to come," said Mabus on Friday. "I named R/V Sally Ride to honor a great researcher, but also to encourage generations of students to continue exploring, discovering and reaching for the stars."
Mabus says the new ship will be a well-equipped oceanographic research platform that includes acoustic equipment used to map the deepest parts of the ocean. It’ll boast modular onboard laboratories capable of supporting a wide variety of oceanographic research challenges.
The ship will be 238 feet in length and able to operate at more than 12 knots. It will be built by Dakota Creek Industries, Inc., out of Anacortes, Wash.
The RV/Sally Ride is among seven new ships named Friday by Mabus.
Other ships include three joint high speed vessels (JHSV): the USNS Trenton; the USNS Brunswick; and the USNS Carson City; an amphibious transport dock ship (LPD), the USS Portland; two littoral combat ships (LCS); the USS Wichita; and the USS Manchester.