The Navy has christened the USNS Harvey Milk, a fleet supply tanker named after a Navy veteran and one of the nation’s first openly gay elected officials.
“This large ship honors #NavyDiver & #CivilRights activist Harvey Milk who was forced out of service due to unfair policies,” the Secretary of the Navy’s office tweeted on Saturday. “Because of him, today our #Sailors and #Sailors #LGBTQ honorably serve themselves.”
Former naval officer Paula Neira, clinical program director at the John Hopkins Center for Transgender Health, smashed a bottle of champagne on the bow of the ship ahead of the launch on Saturday in San Diego Bay.
Milk was 48 years old and was a member of the San Francisco board of directors when he and San Francisco Mayor George Moscone were assassinated at City Hall on November 27, 1978. The gunman, former supervisor Dan White, was angry when Moscone refused to renew his term. him to the board.
Milk was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama in 2009.
Milk joined the Navy in 1951 during the Korean War, serving four years as a diving officer and instructor. During his time in the military, members of LGBTQ services were not allowed to acknowledge their sexuality. Milk’s nephew, Stuart Milk, said his uncle was forced to resign from the Navy because he was gay.
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Stuart Milk and Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro attended the launch ceremony.
“The Secretary of the Navy was to be here today, not only to right the wrongs of the past, but to inspire all of our leaders in the LGBTQ community who have served in the Navy, in uniform today and in the workforce. civil work as well, “said Del Toro. “To tell them that we are committed to them in the future.”
The ship will provide an “on-going replenishment” of fuel to Navy ships at sea and jet fuel for aircraft assigned to aircraft carriers. The vessel is approximately 677 feet long and contains 180,000 barrels of aviation and diesel fuel.
The ship’s traditional “sponsors” are Neira and US Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. Feinstein was at town hall when Milk and Moscone were shot and publicly announced their deaths shortly thereafter.
Feinstein was unable to attend the launch, but said in a letter read at the ceremony that the ship “will carry a rich legacy of civic leadership.”
“When the Harvey Milk sails it will send a very strong message both nationally and around the world to all who believe in liberty, justice and liberty,” said Neira. “There is a place for you in this family.”
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