The naming of Navy vessels has become even more political in recent years. The first ship named for a living person was the USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) in 1975. Since then other vessels have been named for living people, such as USS Arleigh Burke (DDG-51), USS Hyman G. Rickover (SSN-709), USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76), USNS Bob Hope (T-AKR-300), and USS Jimmy Carter (SSN-23).
Each ship type was distinguished by a type code of two to four letters; pennant numbers were always assigned consecutively within a ship type. American ship classes were always named after the "name ship" -- the first of the class counted by low pennant number. A shorthand form of class name was the pennant number of the name ship.
Following the British tradition, once a ship had been formally named (at the launching of the hull), the name was normally not changed. Before this formal naming, names were often shuffled around during construction.
Vessels, including Navy vessels, have traditionally been referred to using the female pronouns she or her. Nowadays, this is considered politically incorrect and those in politics or the higher echelons of the military establishment use the pronoun it when refereeing to vessels. However, sailors, especially those who serve at sea, still refer to vessels using female pronouns.