U.S. Rep. John Lewis and actress Alfre Woodard welded their initials into part of a ship Monday in a special keel laying ceremony along San Diego Harbor.
Lewis is the namesake of the newest U.S. Navy ship being built at the General Dynamics Shipyard.
The fleet replenishment oiler will be named USNS John Lewis after the civil rights leader.
Woodard, the sponsor for the USNS John Lewis, spoke at the ceremony celebrating the vessel.
Born to sharecroppers, Lewis joined the civil rights movement in the 1960s and participated in the Freedom Rides by risking his own safety sitting in seats reserved for white bus passengers. He rose to prominence in the civil rights movement and was selected as a keynote speaker at the March on Washington in 1963.
He has been honored as a Medal of Freedom recipient and has received the only “Profile in Courage Award” for lifetime achievement ever granted by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation.
The National Steel and Shipbuilding Company, known as NASSCO, is building six new T-AO 205 fleet oilers for the U.S. Navy.
The ships are built with double hulls to protect the cargo - often fuel, fresh water, lubriants - from spilling. The plates will be welded on the ship.
USNS John Lewis is scheduled for delivery by the end of 2020.