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Navy Secretary Plans to Name Ship After Gay Rights Leader

FILE - Oiler USNS John Lenthall is shown in the Gulf of Oman, Dec. 24, 2015. A new oiler will be named after gay rights icon Harvey Milk.

The secretary of the Navy plans to name a new ship after a gay rights icon, according to a Navy official.

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus sent a congressional notification July 14 stating his intention to name a new oiler USNS Harvey Milk, the Navy official told VOA Friday.

The official said the Navy would not comment further until the official naming announcement, which is still in a planning stage.

Harvey Milk was the first openly gay Californian to be elected to office. He served as a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors until he was assassinated in November 1978.

Milk joined the Navy during the Korean War and was honorably discharged from the service in 1955.

The ship would be the second oiler in the John Lewis class, named in honor of civil rights leader and U.S. Representative John Lewis, a Democrat from the U.S. state of Georgia.

During the USNS John Lewis naming ceremony January 6, Mabus said all the Lewis class oilers would be named for "people who have fought for civil rights and human rights" in the U.S.

Another Navy official said other oilers in the class are expected to be named after rights leaders ranging from Attorney General Robert. F. Kennedy to women's rights activist Lucy Stone.

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    Carla Babb

    Carla is VOA's Pentagon correspondent covering defense and international security issues. Her datelines include Ukraine, Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Korea.