This may be a little bit of history lost on most of us, but there was actually a Navy Gun Ship (boat) named for the the City of Grand Rapids!

The USS Grand Rapids (PG-98) was a gunship built during the Vietnam War. Susan Ford, then the 12 year old daughter of Grand Rapids congressman Gerald Ford, christened the USS Grand Rapids by breaking the bottle of champagne over the bow at its launch. Mom, Betty, of course, and dad and others at her side and the USS Grand Rapids behind them.

Construction began in 1968, and was commissioned on September 5, 1970. She was 165 feet long with a beam of 24 feet, and powered by two 725 hp Cummins VT12-875-M diesel engines and one GE LM 1500 gas turbine.

Facebook/Grand Rapids City Archives and Records Center
Facebook/Grand Rapids City Archives and Records Center

Interestingly, way before 1968 there was another USS Grand Rapids that was the first to be named after our city.

During WWII, in 1943, USS Grand Rapids (PF-31), a Tacoma-class frigate, was the first ship of the United States Navy to be named for Grand Rapids, Michigan. She did duty as a weather picket ship off Newfoundland, sending vital weather reports for the North Atlantic area until finally returning to Boston in 1946.

Amazingly, it was just four years after Susan Ford broke that bottle of champagne over the bow of the USS Grand Raipds, Grand Rapids own Gerald R. Ford would become President of the United States when President Nixon resigned amidst the Watergate scandal.


USS Gerald R. Ford Begins Builder's Sea Trials
Chief Mass Communication Specialist Christopher Delano/U.S. Navy via Getty Images

Today, we don't have another Grand Rapids sailing the seas for in the U.S. Navy, but the USS Gerald R. Ford Aircraft Carrier. According to the website Interesting Engineering, The USS Gerald R. Ford is one of the most advanced and most expensive pieces of military hardware ever built.


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