US Navy to Name Newest Rescue Ship the ‘Cherokee Nation’

Published June 22, 2019

The U.S. Navy is naming its newest rescue ship the “Cherokee Nation” to honor the service and contributions the Cherokee people have made to the Navy and Marine Corps.

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The U.S. Navy is naming its newest rescue ship the “Cherokee Nation” to honor the service and contributions the Cherokee people have made to the Navy and Marine Corps.

The ship is expected to be built in July 2021.

“The Cherokee Nation is extremely honored that the U.S. Navy is recognizing our tribal nation and the generations of Cherokee men and women who have bravely and humbly sacrificed for our freedom today,” Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker said. “Our Cherokee people have contributed in every major battle and war ever fought in this country and continue to serve in the Armed Forces in some of the highest rates per ethnicity. Cherokees are a strong, resilient people, and we are privileged to have a U.S. ship at sea that reflects both our country and tribe’s history and values.”

Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer announced on Thursday the newest $64.8 million contract award for the towing, salvage and rescue ship, named the Cherokee Nation.

The ship will serve as an open ocean towing vessel and will additionally support salvage operations and submarine rescue missions. 

According to the U.S. Navy, this is the fifth U.S. ship to be named in honor of the Cherokee people. Previous ships include:

  • USS Cherokee (1859), a blockade gunboat during the American Civil War
  • USS Cherokee (SP-1104), a steam yacht built in 1903 and commissioned as a patrol ship in the Atlantic during World War I
  • USS Cherokee (SP-458), built in 1891 but commissioned as a tug during World War I
  • USS Cherokee (AT-66), a World War II-era tug

Thousands of Cherokee Nation citizens served in the Navy, including the first Native American to graduate from the Naval Academy, Joseph James “Jocko” Clark. Clark went on to command the USS Suwannee and USS Yorktown during the Battle of Midway in World War II.

For more about the Navy ship, visit www.navy.mil/local/secnav/.

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