General Dynamics NASSCO has christened and launched the U.S. Navy’s newest T-AO class fleet oiler named ofter civil rights activist Harvey Milk.
The future USNS Harvey Milk (T-AO 206) is the second ship in the John Lewis-class fleet oiler program.
“We are justifiably proud of every ship we build, but this one is special because of her namesake. Today, we are honoring Stuart’s lifetime of selfless service, his hope for equality, and a world without hate,” said David Carver, president of General Dynamics NASSCO. “On behalf of the 35-hundred employees of General Dynamics NASSCO, I am proud to present the future USNS Harvey Milk for christening.”
General Dynamics NASSCO was awarded the contract by the U.S. Navy for the detailed design and construction of the next generation fleet oiler in 2016. The contract calls for the design and construction of six 742-foot-long oilers with a full load displacement of 49,850 tons. Each ship in the class will be named after leaders who fought for civil and human rights.
Designed to transfer fuel to U.S. Navy carrier strike group ships operating at sea, the oilers have the capacity to carry 157,000 barrels of oil, a significant dry cargo capacity, aviation capability and up to a speed of 20 knots. The John Lewis-class ships will replace the current T-AO 187-class fleet replacement oilers.
The second ship in the class is named in honor of the late politician and civil and human rights activist, who served in the Navy during the Korean War as a diving officer. After his naval career, Harvey Milk was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977, becoming the first openly gay elected official in California. Milk was assassinated on November 27, 1978.
“Leaders like Harvey Milk taught us that diversity of backgrounds and experiences help contribute to the strength and resolve of our nation,” said Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro. “There is no doubt that the future Sailors aboard this ship will be inspired by Milk’s life and legacy.”
Two additional ships in the T-AO class are currently under construction, the future USNS Earl Warren (T-AO 207) and the future USNS Robert F. Kennedy (T-AO 208). The lead ship, the future USNS John Lewis (T-AO 205) was launched and christened earlier this year.
Stuart Milk, nephew of the ship’s namesake and Co-Founder and President of the Harvey Milk Foundation, served as the principal speaker at the ceremony in addition to remarks from NASSCO and U.S. Navy representatives.
U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Paula Neira, Navy Veteran and Clinical Program Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Transgender Health were the ship’s sponsors. Prior to launching the 742-foot-long ship down the ways, Ms. Neira christened the ship with the traditional champagne bottle break alongside the hull.
“The christening of the USNS Harvey Milk marks another historic milestone in the history of our Navy and our country. Harvey Milk’s words and actions brought hope and inspiration to many for whom our nation’s lofty rhetoric of equality and inclusion were not yet reality,” said ship sponsor Paula Neira. “Today, while we must continue to carry on his work, and much work still needs to be done, by christening and launching this ship we honor his legacy, celebrate the progress that has been made in advancing diversity and inclusion for so many, and we know that wherever the USNS Harvey Milk will sail, she will bring that message of hope and inspiration to present and future generations.”
The future USNS Harvey Milk will be operated by the Navy’s Military Sealift Command.
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