“Without getting into Jane Fonda’s activities during the Vietnam War, we feel that it is highly inappropriate to name a warship after an actress with no ties to the military,” said James Mitchell, a spokesman for both groups.
The ship’s name, which had been kept under wraps until right before the launch, was revealed yesterday at a star-studded event presided over by Ms. Fonda.
Ms. Fonda made a statement prior to the launch, saying, “I dedicate this ship to the brave men who fought and died in Vietnam, especially those in the 66th Viet Cong Regiment.”
The actress is extremely unpopular among some military groups for her activities during the Vietnam War, such as posing for propaganda pictures with North Vietnamese soldiers, referring to American prisoners of war as “hypocrites and liars”, and more recently cutting the line at a Target in front of a guy wearing an American flag t-shirt.
American warships, traditionally named after states, cities, and posthumous military heroes, have increasingly been named after living figures ever since 1998, when the Republican-controlled Congress named 18 warships in a row after former President Ronald Reagan.
In recent years, the Navy has come under fire for its practice of naming ships after controversial individuals, such as congressional representatives John P. Murtha and Gabrielle Giffords, and civil rights activists Cesar Chavez and Medgar Evers.
When reached for comment, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus said that there was no actual law over ship naming conventions.
“Plus, I really liked Barbarella,” Mabus added.
The Jane Fonda will form part of the newly-activated Eighth Fleet, built around the aircraft carrier Hillary Rodham Clinton (CVN-80), and destroyers Family Guy, Lady Gaga, and Trayvon Martin.
UPDATE – The US Navy has denied any connection between the naming of the Fonda and recent negotiations with Vietnam over basing American ships out of Cam Ranh Bay. Navy officials have confirmed however that Cam Ranh Bay will be the Fonda‘s first port of call and Vietnamese Minister of Defense Phung Quang Thanh was overheard commenting how his country would, “love ship long time.”