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Fifth-Graders Name New Navy Ship

By Staff Sgt. Alicia K. Borlik, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 18, 1998 – The Navy broke tradition June 5 by announcing that nine fifth-graders from Cranston, R.I., had won the national competition to name the Navy's newest oceanographic survey ship.

It is the first time in history the Navy has allowed civilians to name one of its ships.

Navy Secretary John H. Dalton announced the ship will be christened the USNS Bruce Heezen. Heezen was an oceanographer who did historic work in ocean-floor mapping; he died in 1977 aboard a Navy research submarine while traveling to observe and map the mid-Atlantic Ridge rift valley.

The Navy honored the students from Oak Lawn Elementary School during a June 5 ceremony at the Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C. Also present were the contest runners-up, a group of middle schoolers from St. Martin's Lutheran School in Annapolis, Md.

Both student teams won at the national level competition -- Oak Lawn in Division I (grades K-5) and St. Martin's in Division II (grades 6-12). Both teams won a trip to Washington for the ceremony. The Cranston team gets another trip in December to Moss Point, Miss., to watch the launch and christening of the Heezen.

Elementary, middle and high school students submitted nearly 2,000 name proposals after the Navy announced the contest at the beginning of the 1997-98 school year. Contest rules called for students to suggest a name, defend it and work on projects to prove that they had done research and study on the oceans.

The Annapolis team's name, Coriolis, won't grace the side of the survey ship, but the Navy plans to use it Coriolis as the name of a sensor on a research satellite to be launched in 2002. The sensor will monitor the shift in the direction of the wind due to the rotation of the earth -- in science, the "Coriolis effect."

The Air Force, which will launch the satellite, is considering naming the entire satellite Coriolis.

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