WASHINGTON — Kuwaiti tankers reflagged under American colors will also get new names, officials said Tuesday, with maritime monikers including Surf City, Ocean City and Sea Isle City--all borrowed from resort towns in New Jersey.
The plan to rechristen the Persian Gulf ships prompted one Garden State congressman, Democrat William J. Hughes, to tell colleagues, "All of a sudden, the Kuwaiti fleet reads like a road map of southern New Jersey."
The Reagan Administration has proposed reflagging 11 oil tankers to protect them from attack in the Iran-Iraq War. The policy has drawn sharp congressional criticism.
Under the plan, four of the reflagged tankers will get New Jersey names, according to a House report. They'll shift from Arabic names like Al Rekkah and Casbah to Surf City, Ocean City, Sea Isle City and Bridgeton.
Others are likely to wind up with names like Chesapeake City, Middleton, Gas Queen, Gas Princess, Gas King and Gas Prince.
According to the report by the House Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee, ownership of the tankers--originally held in Kuwait--is to be transferred to a Dover, Del., corporation, Chesapeake Shipping Co.
So far, how the new names were chosen remains a mystery. Gene Miller, the Washington-based lawyer for Chesapeake Shipping, said he is unsure who proposed the names.