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HOUMA, La. — The Cherokee Nation and U.S. Navy christened the USNS Cherokee Nation (T-ATS 7), the Navy’s newest towing and rescue ship named in honor of all Cherokee citizens who served in the Navy and Marine Corps.

The T-ATS 7 is the second ship in its class and will be operated by the Navy’s Military Sealift Command.

[Editor's Note: This article was first published by Anadisgo. Used with permission. All rights reserved.]

The christening ceremony, celebrating the new ship, was held Saturday at the Bollinger shipyard in Houma, Louisiana. The USNS Cherokee Nation (T-ATS 7) is about 10,000 tons and built for a crew of more than 60.

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“Our Cherokee people throughout time have stood as protectors of this country, contributing in every major battle and war ever fought and they continue to serve the Armed Forces in disproportionately higher rates, showing that same patriotism and bravery,” Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said. “We are so proud to witness this ship’s completion. It will bear our great name and mark the occasion as among the proudest in Cherokee history.”

Deputy Speaker of the Council Victoria Vazquez is the USNS Cherokee Nation (T-ATS 7) female sponsor, a Navy tradition, and led Saturday’s christening ceremony with the traditional breaking of a bottle across the ship's bow.

 

The USNS Cherokee Nation (T-ATS 7), which is nearly complete, will play a critical role in the country’s national defense strategy, providing a wide range of missions including open ocean towing, deep dive, humanitarian assistance and wide area search and surveillance.

“This week we remembered those who served at the Battle of Midway and D-Day. In that same manner, today we recognize the patriotism and valor of those citizens of the Cherokee Nation who served our nation. It is only befitting to honor them by bestowing this ship with the name Cherokee Nation,” said U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Thomas Anderson, program executive officer ships.  

Navy officials say the USNS Cherokee Nation (T-ATS 7) is the fifth U.S. ship to be named in honor of the Cherokee people and the first since a World War II-era tugboat dubbed the “Cherokee.”

On Feb. 12, 2020, the Navy held a keel laying ceremony, in which Chief Hoskin and Deputy Speaker of the Council Victoria Vazquez’ initials were welded into the ship’s steel to celebrate the achievement of the first major modules of the ship joining together. Deputy Speaker Vazquez is the ship’s female sponsor, a Navy tradition, and also led Saturday’s christening ceremony.

“I’m extremely blessed to have been chosen as the sponsor of the USNS Cherokee Nation throughout the building of this rescue ship named in honor of the men and women who so bravely served our Nation,” Deputy Speaker Vazquez said. “This U.S. ship at sea reflects our country and tribe’s history and values of service.”

(L-R): Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr., Assistant Secretary of the Navy Manpower and Reserve Affairs Franklin Parker, Cherokee Nation First Lady January Hoskin.

 

Several Cherokee Nation Cabinet and Council attended the christening, including Secretary of Veteran Affairs S. Joe Crittenden, a Navy veteran.

“It was an honor to provide the blessing for this ship and its future crew, those men and women who will serve aboard the USNS Cherokee Nation and be just as resilient as our people,” Secretary Crittenden said.

The USNS Cherokee Nation (T-ATS 7)

 

Cherokee National Treasure Dan Mink worked with the Navy to design the crest for the USNS Cherokee Nation (T-ATS 7). The crest symbolizes the partnership between the Cherokee Nation and U.S. Navy. The red and gold scroll honors the service and contributions the Cherokee people made to the Marine Corps. Written in Cherokee Syllabary is “Water Warrior” and refers to the strong, resilient crew of the USNS Cherokee Nation (T-ATS 7).

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

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