Navy Christens Research Ship Named for Sally Ride

(Credit: U.S. Navy/John Williams)

Family, friends and dignitaries gathered for the naming ceremony of R/V Sally Ride on a sun-splashed day at the Dakota Creek Industries shipyard in Anacortes, Washington. “For the United States of America, I christen thee ‘Sally Ride.’ May God bless this ship and all who sail in her,” bellowed Dr. Tam O’Shaughnessy, Ride’s life partner of 27 years and the CEO and co-founder of Sally Ride Science, before smashing the traditional bottle of champagne against the ship’s bow. The auxiliary general oceanographic research vessel then gave a mighty blow of its horn as applause filled the air.

“For decades to come, the men and women who will man this ship will look past the horizon, beyond man-made boundaries, searching, learning and honoring the pioneer [it] is named after—the great Sally Ride,” Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus said in a statement. “I named the 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.”

Ride is the fifth astronaut whose name graces a Navy ship, joining Neil Armstrong, John Glenn, Wally Schirra and Alan Shepard. Much like Ride herself, though, the vessel bearing her name is a trailblazer since it is the first American academic research vessel named for a female scientist and explorer.

Ride’s journey to space began with a simple college newspaper advertisement seeking candidates for NASA’s astrona....

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