Tom Stieghorst
Tom Stieghorst

Carnival Cruise Line's choice of an active duty member of the U.S. military, Deshauna Barber, to name its newest ship, got me wondering who the Navy chooses to christen its new warships.

There have been four Navy ships launched this year, including three littoral combat ships, the USS Sioux City, USS Wichita and USS Manchester.  

The Sioux City was christened by Mary Winnefeld, wife of a retired admiral. The Wichita was christened by Kate Lehrer, a novelist and wife of former PBS News anchor Jim Lehrer, who is from Wichita. The Manchester was christened by New Hampshire's senior U.S. Senator, Jeanne Shaheen.

Deshauna Barber
Deshauna Barber

Also named this year was the Navy's second stealth destroyer, the USS Michael Monsoor, named for a former Navy SEAL and Medal of Honor winner who jumped on a grenade in 2006 in Iraq to save his squad.  The ship was christened by his mother.

It's that tradition of valor and service that Carnival will be tapping into on Nov. 4 when Barber names the Carnival Vista.

Carnival planned the New York City event as a tribute to the military, a group that the cruise industry has increasingly courted. Hundreds of military families were invited to overnight on the ship and attend a gala honoring Operation Homefront, a nonprofit that provides assistance to the families of service members, and featuring a concert by country music super star Carrie Underwood.

Barber will be the icing on the cake.

The daughter of a retired Army master sergeant who was a member of the special forces, Barber currently serves as logistics commander for the 988th Quartermaster Detachment Unit in Rockville, Md.

She also happens to be the reigning Miss USA.

Carnival has had beauty queens name its ships before - Miss Universe Yvonne Ryding christened the Jubilee in 1986. It has had a soldier - Iraq POW Jessica Lynch named the Miracle in 2004. And it has had an African-American godmother before - Tracy Wilson Mourning, wife of former Miami Heat center Alonzo Mourning, named the Carnival Breeze in 2012.

That Barber is all three certainly makes her a distinguished choice.

The U.S. military is disproportionately rural and Southern, according to demographic studies. As a cruise line with 10 home ports stretching from Galveston to Norfolk and drawing from most of the southern states, Carnival is smart to make the military a target market.


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