Bollinger christens lead ship in new Navy class

(HOUMA, La.) — On Saturday, representatives from Bollinger Shipyards joined senior U.S. Navy officials pierside at Bollinger Houma to christen USNS Navajo (T-ATS 6), the lead ship of the Navy’s new Navajo class of towing, salvage and rescue (T-ATS) ships.

Arlando Teller, assistant secretary for tribal affairs for the U.S. Department of Transportation, was the keynote speaker and joined ship sponsor Jocelyn Billy as she broke a ceremonial bottle of sparkling wine across the bow of USNS Navajo.

Bollinger Shipyards photo

“This isn’t just any ship; it’s the first of its kind. This is a Bollinger-built Navajo-class towing, salvage and rescue ship manufactured to the highest level of craftsmanship and quality,” said Ben Bordelon, president and CEO of Bollinger Shipyards. “Every weld, every beam, every system on this ship was crafted with the thought of the warriors that inspired its name. It is an honor beyond words for Bollinger to partner with the Navy. The trust bestowed upon us to construct a new class of vessel is both a responsibility and a privilege that we hold dear.”

The new Navajo class of Navy towing, salvage and rescue ships is named in recognition of the tribe and the Diné people, and their many contributions to the U.S. military and the country’s defense. While most Americans are familiar with the famed Navajo code talkers, the Diné people have answered the call and served U.S. armed forces with honor and valor in nearly every major conflict since the birth of the nation.

“This ceremony signifies more than the unveiling of a new class of towing, salvage and rescue vessels. It is an homage to the Navajo people’s rich military legacy,” said Justin Ahasteen, executive director of the Navajo Nation’s Washington office. “Navajo warriors throughout history have tirelessly shielded our nation. From the legendary Navajo code talkers of World War II to the brave Navajo men and women serving today, our nation embodies the spirit of warrior protectors and defenders.”

The Navajo class provides oceangoing tug, salvage and rescue capabilities to support fleet operations. T-ATS replaces and fulfills the capabilities that were previously provided by the Powhatan-class fleet ocean tug (T-ATF 166) and Safeguard-class rescue and salvage ship (T-ARS 50).

“The T-ATS 6 combines two classes of ships for your nation and your Navy,” said Rear Adm. Jeffrey Spivey, deputy commander, Military Sealift Command. “It combines those into one class that is more capable than any ship we have out there in this salvage class.”

“This class of ship is critical to ensure our sailors and mariners receive critical, timely support and stay forward around the globe defending our interests,” said Vice Adm. Craig Clapperton, commander, U.S. Fleet Cyber Command, 10th Fleet. “And they will sail wherever international law allows and operate right to the edge of controversy to ensure a free global common for all. These multipurpose ships also stand ready to respond quickly in the event a disaster strikes, providing critical humanitarian assistance, firefighting support and spill response. A special capability that few can provide.”

Launched in May, USNS Navajo is the first of nine planned Navajo-class T-ATS. In addition to USNS Navajo, Bollinger is also constructing USNS Cherokee Nation (T-ATS 7) and USNS Saginaw Ojibwe Anishinabek (T-ATS 8), and is under contract for USNS Lenni Lenape (T-ATS 9) and USNS Muscogee Creek Nation (T-ATS 10).

– Bollinger Shipyards

By Professional Mariner Staff