I will admit to doing a double take when I saw the USCG press release announcing “Coast Guard Cutter Harriet Lane returns home after 9-week patrol.” I wondered, who would name a ship the Harriet Lane? For the record, the USCGC Harriet Lane was named for Harriet Lane, niece and official hostess of President James Buchanan. The current Harriet Lane is also not the first. There was also a revenue cutter by the same name in 1857.
For those familiar with sailor slang, however, Harriet Lane is also slang for canned meat. Harriet Lane was a murder victim, who was chopped up by her killer around 1875. Merchant sailors came to call any canned meat, Harriet Lane. Fanny Adams, also a long remembered, if also dismembered, murder victim, became Royal Navy slang for tinned meats as well. To the best of my knowledge, there is no USCG Fanny Adams, thank goodness.