The U.S. Navy has decided to name a ship after the late LGBT civil rights leader and San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk, according to a congressional notification signed by Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus.
U.S. Navy Institute News, an independent publication unaffiliated with the Navy, broke the news about the Navy’s plans to name a ship after Milk on Thursday after it says it obtained a copy of the congressional notification.
The publication reports that Mabus indicated the ship would be a Military Sealift Command fleet oiler called USNS Harvey Milk and would be built by the General Dynamics Corporation in San Diego.
“Harvey Milk is an American hero and an icon for LGBT equality, and it’s phenomenal that the U.S. Navy is going to honor his legacy by naming a ship after him,” said Ashley Broadway-Mack, president of the American Military Partnership Association, the nation’s largest organization of LGBT military families.
“Harvey Milk’s incredible leadership in the face of adversity continues to inspire all of us in our ongoing fight for full LGBT equality,” Broadway Mack said in a statement. “By breaking down barriers and fighting for the dignity and worth of all Americans, he left behind an example for all of us in his service to our nation, both in and out of uniform.”
USNI News reports a chapter in Milk’s life that isn’t well known among many in the LGBT community. It says he became a commissioned officer in the Navy in 1951.
“He served as a diving officer in San Diego during the Korean War on the submarine rescue ship Kittiwake until 1955,” the publication says. “Milk was honorably discharged from the service as a lieutenant junior grade,” it says.
“The Secretary of the Navy’s office is deferring releasing additional information until the naming announcement, USNI News reported a Navy official as saying on Thursday.
Oilers are a class of Navy ships that deliver fuel to other naval ships and in some cases jet fuel to aircraft carriers at sea so that the larger ships, including battle ships, don’t have to return to port for refueling.
Mabus announced in January that the first in a new class of oilers planned for the Navy would be named after U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) as part of his ongoing practice of naming ships after famous U.S. civil rights leaders. Other ships have been named after famed civil rights activists Medgar Evers and Cesar Chavez.