U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith is praising a decision by Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer to name a future guided-missile destroyer after her predecessor, the late U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.).
Hyde-Smith said Spencer made the decision to honor Cochran by naming a future Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer for the Pontotoc native. Cochran, who resigned in April 2018 and passed away on May 30, 2019, was a Navy veteran who represented Mississippi in the U.S. Congress for almost 46 years.
“Thad Cochran was a statesman who dedicated his life to serving his nation and his state. A future USS Thad Cochran destroyer is a fitting tribute to a leader whose service in the Navy was a touchstone for how he conducted himself as a public servant,” Hyde-Smith said. “I commend Navy Secretary Spencer and the Department of Defense for honoring a very special son of Mississippi in this way.”
Spencer has sole authority to name Navy vessels, with guided-missile destroyers named to honor members of the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard; former secretaries and assistant secretaries of the Navy; and members of Congress closely identified with naval affairs.
“From his service as a legal officer aboard the heavy cruiser USS Macon, to his dedicated work on behalf of our Sailors and Marines on the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Thad Cochran was always a strong advocate for our nation’s defense and a courtly voice for cooperation and civility in American politics,” said Spencer. “We mourned his passing this May, but his legacy will live on wherever this Arleigh Burke-class destroyer may serve.”
Hyde-Smith, who like Cochran serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee, committed to working to secure funding to continue Navy procurement of Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, currently built at shipyards in Pascagoula, Miss., and Bath, Maine. These ships are capable of fighting air, surface, and subsurface battles simultaneously.
The Senate Appropriations Committee in September approved a FY2020 Defense Appropriations Bill that recommends a $390 million increase for long lead materials for three DDG-51 destroyers in FY2021.
Cochran, who ended his Senate career as chairman of both the Senate Appropriations Committee and its Subcommittee on Defense, began his military career at the University of Mississippi with the Navy ROTC. Cochran was commissioned an Ensign in the U.S. Naval Reserve and assigned to duty aboard the USS MACON, becoming the ship’s legal officer after graduating as an honor student from the U.S. Navy School of Justice in Newport, Rhode Island. He also became qualified as Officer of the Deck, in port and underway. Later, Cochran was assigned to the staff of the Commandant of the Eighth Naval District in New Orleans, Louisiana, to complete his two-year tour of active duty in the Navy.
Cochran served three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives before being elected to the U.S. Senate in 1978. He was the 10th longest-serving senator in the history of the United States.