General Dynamics NASSCO held a ceremony on Friday kicking off the construction of the U.S. Naval Ship Harvey Milk.
Local leaders hope by naming the ship after Harvey Milk, the first openly gay elected official in California, the vessel will be seen as a symbol of acceptance around the world on our seas.
“USNS Harvey Milk is more than a victory for the LGBT Community. It is a victory for all Americans,” said San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer standing beside massive steel beams.
The USNS Harvey Milk will be the second of six eventual vessels in what is known as the “John Lewis” class of naval ships.
These fleet oilers, or refueling ships, will all soon be named after American civil rights icons.
The event was particularly resonant not only because Milk was once stationed in San Diego with the Navy years ago, but also because several of San Diego’s LGBTQ elected officials were on hand Friday including State Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins and Assemblymember Todd Gloria.
“And for all of you who are going to be working on that Navy ship, please do know, my uncle stood not just for the LGBT community, but for every minority community that was not treated fairly,” said Milk’s nephew, Stuart Milk.
The ship is expected to be completed in the next two years.
Milk served as a member of the San Fransisco Board of Supervisors in the late 1970s before he and was shot and killed by a former colleague in 1978.