The James F. Harell was named for the Master of the S S Gulfstate, which he was commanding on April 3, 1943, off the coast of Florida.  Captain Harrell lost his life, along with 39 of his crew, as the Gulfstate went down after taking torpedoes from the German U-boat #155.

In a ceremony at Panama City FL, Mrs. Harrell christened the new ship in her husbands name.