Home Americas US Navy launches tanker named after gay rights leader Harvey Milk

US Navy launches tanker named after gay rights leader Harvey Milk

US Navy launch of second John Lewis-class oiler USNS Harvey Milk
Photo: US Navy

The US Navy has christened and launched a John Lewis-class replenishment oiler named after the first openly gay elected official Harvey Milk in a ceremony in San Diego, California.

The future USNS Harvey Milk (T-AO 206) is the second of six ships in its class on order, all of which have been named after civil rights champions.

Stuart Milk, co-founder of the Harvey Milk Foundation and Milk’s nephew, delivered the principal ceremonial address at the ceremony on Saturday, November 6.

The ship’s sponsors are US Sen. Dianne Feinstein, of California, and Paula Neira, Navy Veteran and Clinical Program Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Transgender Health. Paula Neira christened the ship by breaking a bottle of sparkling wine across the bow in a time-honored Navy tradition.

Harvey Milk served in the navy during the Korean War as a diving officer. After his naval career, which was cut short due to the service’s unfair policies at the time, Harvey Milk was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977, becoming the first openly gay elected official in California. He was assassinated on November 27, 1978.

The John Lewis-class ships are based on commercial design standards and will recapitalize the current T-AO 187-class fleet replenishment oilers to provide underway fuel replenishment to Navy ships at sea. Fleet replenishment oilers are part of the Navy’s combat logistics force.

The oilers are built under a 2016 contract between the US Navy and General Dynamics NASSCO worth $3.2 billion for the first six ships. The navy plans to procure 20 ships of the new class.