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Construction starts on Navy ship to be named after gay rights leader Harvey Milk

By
Ed Adamczyk
Construction began on Friday on a U.S. Navy ship to be named after slain gay rights leader Harvey Milk, who was a Navy ensign during the Korean war. Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy
Construction began on Friday on a U.S. Navy ship to be named after slain gay rights leader Harvey Milk, who was a Navy ensign during the Korean war. Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy

Dec. 16 (UPI) -- Construction began on a Navy fleet oiler ship to be named for gay rights leader Harvey Milk, after a ceremony at a San Diego shipyard.

The future USNS Harvey Milk will be the Navy's 16th fleet replenishment oiler, operated by Military Sealift Command and used to provide underway replenishment of fuel to U.S. Navy ships at sea, as well as jet fuel for aircraft assigned to aircraft carriers.

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"This ship will have significant contributions as part of our Combat Logistics Force, serving as the primary fuel pipeline from resupply ports to ships at sea," said Mike Kosar of the Navy Sea Systems Command's Program Executive Office at Friday's cutting of the first 100 tons of steel for the ship at the General Dynamics-National Steel and Shipbuilding Co. "Today's ceremony marks an important milestone as our Navy works to recapitalize our aging fleet replenishment capabilities, ensuring our warfighters have the resources they need to keep them combat year for years to come."

The John Lewis-class oiler, currently referred to as T-AO 206, will be named after Milk, a Navy ensign during the Korean War, serving as a Naval dive officer.

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Milk was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977 as California's first openly gay elected person, and was shot to death by a former supervisor nearly one year later. The next six Lewis-class vessels will also be named for civil rights and human rights leaders.

The ceremony was attended by Milk's nephew Stuart Milk, who said the honor "sends a global message of inclusion more powerful than simply 'We'll tolerate everyone,' We celebrate everyone."

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