In the first time in US Navy history, a naval vessel is being named after an openly gay person, slain gay rights activist Harvey Milk. The ship will launch in 2018. It is one of six new oil tankers that are being named after civil rights figures including former US attorney general Robert Kennedy, suffragist Lucy Stone, former US Supreme Court justice Earl Warren, abolitionist Sojourner Truth, and Congressman John Lewis.
The USNS Harvey Milk was celebrated at a naming ceremony on August 16. At the ceremony, secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus said: it is “important to recognize those who fought in a different way, who fought for the ideals we value as a country.” Milk was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1978. He and the city’s mayor George Moscone were assassinated later that year. Milk was a member of the US Navy and served in the Korean War as a diving officer.