After being formally christened on Saturday, a U.S. Navy ship named after slain gay rights leader Harvey Milk was launched in San Diego Bay.
AP reports the replenishment oiler USNS Harvey Milk was welcomed into service after a bottle of champagne was smashed on the bow by former Navy officer Paula M. Neira, clinical program director for the Johns Hopkins Center for Transgender Health.
Stuart Milk, nephew of Harvey, and U.S. Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro were present at the traditional public ceremony.
“The secretary of the Navy needed to be here today, not just to amend the wrongs of the past, but to give inspiration to all of our LGBTQ community leaders who served in the Navy, in uniform today and in the civilian workforce as well too, and to tell them that we’re committed to them in the future,” Del Toro said.
In 2016 former U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus publicly announced his intent to name a “Military Sealift Command fleet oiler” after Milk.
Mabus chose to name six new oilers after civil and human rights leaders. Along with Milk, Sojourner Truth, Chief Justice Earl Warren, Robert F. Kennedy, suffragist Lucy Stone and Rep. John Lewis of Georgia were included on the list.
Stuart Milk, co-founder, and president of the Harvey Milk Foundation, thanked Mabus for providing the family details of his uncle’s discharge from the Navy.
“He has a less-than-honorable discharge. He was forced to resign because he was gay,” Stuart Milk said, adding that “we have to teach our history to prevent ourselves from going backwards and repeating it.”
The six oilers were constructed by General Dynamics NASSCO in San Diego in 2018 under a $3.2 billion Navy contract. The first was christened this summer, the John Lewis.