Sign announcing start of construction
Sign announcing start of construction at NASSCO. Courtesy of the company

Workers at the NASSCO shipyard in Barrio Logan began building this month the future USNS Harvey Milk, the second in a new class of fleet oilers.

The John Lewis-class ships, which are named for civil rights icons, are designed to provide underway replenishment of fuel to Navy ships and jet fuel for aircraft assigned to aircraft carriers.

“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 Navy program manager Mike Kosar.

He said the new ships will “recapitalize our aging fleet replenishment capabilities, ensuring our warfighters have the resources they need to keep them in combat.”

NASSCO began work on the first ship in the class in September 2018 and will deliver it to the Navy in November 2020. Six are currently on order, and a total of 20 are planned.

The Harvey Milk will be operated by the Navy’s Military Sealift Command. It is named for the man who became the first openly gay elected official in California when he won a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977.

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.