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Cherokee Nation honored with rescue ship namesake

190621-N-DM308-0001 WASHINGTON (June 21, 2019) An artist rendering of the future USNS Cherokee Nation (T-ATS 7). (U.S. Navy photo illustration by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Paul L. Archer/Released)

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 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 is expected to be built in July 2021.

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
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