USNS Harvey Milk under construction
The future USNS Harvey Milk under construction at NASSCO in 2020. Courtesy of the company

The Navy will christen its latest ship, a replenishment oiler named after slain civil rights leader Harvey Milk, during a Saturday ceremony in San Diego.

The future USNS Harvey Milk is the second ship in the Navy’s John Lewis class of fleet replenishment oilers, which will serve to refuel Navy ships at sea.

Saturday morning’s address will be delivered by Milk’s nephew, Stuart Milk, with remarks from Navy leaders. Paula Neira, a Navy veteran and clinical program director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Transgender Health, will perform the christening.

The ceremony will be livestreamed by General Dynamics NASSCO and on the company’s Facebook page.

“Tomorrow, we christen the future USNS Harvey Milk,” Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro said in a statement. “Leaders like Harvey Milk taught us that diversity of backgrounds and experiences help contribute to the strength and resolve of our nation. There is no doubt that the future sailors aboard this ship will be inspired by Milk’s life and legacy.”

Milk served in the Navy during the Korean War as a diving officer. He became the first openly gay elected official in California when he was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977. He was assassinated by a former colleague 43 years ago this month.

The Lewis-class of ships are each set to be named after notable civil rights leaders and activists.

Five years ago, the Navy awarded a $3.2 billion contract to General Dynamics NASSCO to design and construct the first six ships in the Lewis-class. The Navy plans to procure 20 ships total.

– City News Service

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