Navy Names Ship for Civil Rights Activist Cesar Chavez

Story Number: NNS110518-24Release Date: 5/18/2011 5:53:00 PM
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From Department of Defense Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced May 18 the selection of the USNS Cesar Chavez as the 14th Lewis and Clark-class of dry cargo/ammunition ships.

Continuing the Lewis and Clark-class tradition of honoring legendary pioneers and explorers, the Navy's newest underway replenishment ship honors the memory of Mexican-American civil rights activist Cesar Chavez. Chavez served in the Navy from 1944-1946 after which he became a leader in the American Labor Movement and a civil rights activist who co-founded the National Farm Workers Association, which later became the United Farm Workers.

"Cesar Chavez inspired young Americans to do what is right and what is necessary to protect our freedoms and our country," said Mabus. "The Cesar Chavez will sail hundreds of thousands of miles and will bring support and assistance to thousands upon thousands of people. His example will live on in this great ship."

Designated T-AKE 14, Cesar Chavez is being built by General Dynamics NASSCO shipyard in San Diego. Eleven of the T-AKEs are slated to serve as combat logistics force (CLF) ships, and three are slated to be part of the maritime prepositioning force (MPF). Cesar Chavez will serve the CLF missions, helping the Navy maintain a worldwide forward presence by delivering ammunition, food, fuel and other dry cargo to U.S. and allied ships at sea.

"This proud ship will honor one American. But the story of my father's family is a lot like the story of so many other immigrants, especially Latinos," said Paul F. Chavez, son of the ship's namesake and president of Cesar Chavez Foundation. "They came to America seeking a better life. In so doing, they brought to their new land a fervent patriotism that has been demonstrated over and over again throughout the storied history of our nation. My dad was like many Latinos and African Americans from his generation who returned home in the years following World War II determined to see that the country for which they sacrificed lived up to its promise as a beacon to the nations of equality and freedom."

Cesar Chavez will be designated as a United States Naval Ship (USNS), and operated by the Navy's Military Sealift Command with a crew of civil service mariners (129 in CLF mode, 75 in MPF mode). For CLF missions, the T-AKEs' crews include a small detachment of sailors.

Like her sister dry cargo/ammunition ships, T-AKE 14 is designed to operate independently for extended periods at sea and can carry two helicopters and their crews. The ship is 689 feet in length, has a waterline beam of 105 feet, displaces approximately 41,000 tons, and is capable of reaching a speed of 20 knots.

Media may direct queries to the Navy Office of Information at 703-697-5342. Additional information about the T-AKE class of ship is available at

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5/27/2011 5:03:00 PM
Congratulations to the Secretary of the Navy! What a bold, fantastic move. Cesar Chavez is a hero to millions of Americans who believe in the inclusiveness and inspiration that our nation stands for. Notwithstanding the right-wing hatemongers who can't see anything beyond their xenophobia, the memory of Mr. Chavez epitomizes humility, self-sacrifice and honor. A Proud American, GMS, Dallas, Texas

5/27/2011 1:09:00 PM
My Father served in the US Navy during WWII and if he were alive, I know that he would be extremely proud and happy that Cesar Chavez was honored by the United States Navy naming a ship the USS Cesar Chavez. Like my father, Cesar Chavez came from a humble background, defended the United States, and fought to improve the lives of all Americans, regardless of their background. I know that millions of Latinos are proud to honor Cesar Chavez and all that he accomplished to advance freedom.

5/25/2011 3:52:00 PM
I guess if we can name ships for politicians and political appointees, Roosevelt and Stennis, as well as Reagan come to mind; then Chaves who was a leader for freedom in our country, can be as valid a a man to honor.

5/25/2011 1:20:00 AM
Love it! It makes me proud to have served in the US NAVY and see this kind of Diversity and honor. There are many Americans that we could have named this ship after. All, including Cesar Chavez are great names. Great story!

5/20/2011 11:24:00 AM
Why not name it the USS POS; I cannot believe this was anything other than a political move. He does not deserve to have a ship named after him; he has done nothing great for this nation or the Navy. Here is an idea; maybe next we can rename California to Calexico. I find it hard to believe there are no other more deserving heroes out there than this.

5/20/2011 9:16:00 AM
I understand the naming of vessels follows the sequence of particular roles of the vessels. However, I believe a more suitable pioneer/explorer in American history could be found. I would hope that the next combat vessel would be named after Carlos N. Hathcock. A Marines' Marine. He served as a sniper in Viet Nam. I have had the distinct pleasure of meeting him several times. He should have been awarded the CMH. I enlisted in the Navy in 1970. I did my duty with pride and love for my country.

5/19/2011 11:50:00 PM
What's next...the USNS "Politically Correct" ??

5/19/2011 9:22:00 PM
Political correctness gone mad.

5/19/2011 3:19:00 PM
Absolutely appaled at the ship being named after Cesar Chavez. How many thousands of Americans have died fighting for this country and you have the nerve Mr.Secretary of the Navy to name this ship after a labor organizer...Why not somebody who has served their whole life in the military or someone who has died for this country.How about the Navy Seals that killed Bin Laden? You should be relieved of your position. you and anybody else that voted for the name of this ship...

5/19/2011 1:08:00 PM
Wrong, wrong, wrong. What on God's blue sea was SECNAV thinking? This was a purely political nameing. What did Chavez do for the Navy? He spent 2 years in and hated every minute of it. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

5/19/2011 12:14:00 PM
Does the Navy have no shame? Nauseating, smarmy politics...I can think of several Latinos that deserve this honor far more than Comrade Chavez. Topping the list is Sgt Rafael Peralta, USMC, nominated for the Medal of Honor, but given the Navy Cross posthumously, for shielding buddies in Falluja from a grenade using his own body. This disgusting attempt to kiss up to leftists should not stand. What's next, the USS Che Guevara???

5/19/2011 10:56:00 AM
I thought tax payed for military vessels were traditionally named after military men and women, those that put their lives on the line everyday to keep us safe, or U.S. Presidents. Naming a vessel, any vessel, after an activist/labor leader is pure and shameful politics. I suppose next you will have one named the U.S.S. Sean Penn, because you just love this political views. Very disturbing.

5/18/2011 6:15:00 PM
Absolutely disgraceful and emabarrased to be an American today and have a naval ship named after a person who served 2 years and hated it. With all the people who have died in service of our country, who never bad mouthed our country and who served a life time honorably; how in God's name can you justfy naming a ship after a labor organizer???? Who never received a commendation for squat. Pure political BS! Who ever ram rodded this down America's throat should be dismissed from the service

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n this file photo of June 18, 2010, the Military Sealift Command Lewis and Clark-class dry cargo and ammunition ship USNS Charles Drew (T-AKE 10)
Official U.S. Navy file photo of Military Sealift Command Lewis and Clark-class dry cargo and ammunition ship USNS Charles Drew (T-AKE 10).
July 16, 2010
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