US Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) Richard V. Spencer has announced the newest towing, salvage, and rescue ship will be named Cherokee Nation.
This is the fifth US ship to be named in honor of the Cherokee people.
“It is my privilege to announce that the many Cherokee Nation citizens who’ve served throughout the years will be remembered with the highest honor a Secretary of the Navy can bestow, the naming of a ship,” Spencer said.
“The future USNS Cherokee Nation will expand our capabilities and form a critical backbone for the strength and readiness of our entire fleet.”
Gulf Island Shipyards was awarded a $64.8 million contract option for the detail design and construction of the new towing, salvage and rescue ship, which will be based on existing commercial towing offshore vessel designs and will replace the current T-ATF 166 and T-ARS 50 class ships in service with the US Military Sealift Command.
The future USNS Cherokee Nation is the second ship in the new class of towing, salvage and rescue ships and will be designated T-ATS 7.
To be built at the company’s shipyard in Houma, Louisiana, the new vessel is expected to be completed in July 2021, according to the US Navy.
The contract includes options for potentially six additional vessels, and each additional ship will be named in honor of prominent Native Americans or Native American tribes.
The T-ATS will serve as open ocean towing vessels and will additionally support salvage operations and submarine rescue missions.