Navy names new ship class after Navajo people

Navy names new ship class after Navajo people

The U.S. Navy this week named a new class of towing, salvage and rescue ships after the Navajo people to honor the contributions of the tribe to the U.S. military.

“The Navajo people have fought and served our armed forces with honor and valor in nearly every major conflict since the birth of our nation, so it is fitting and right to name a new class of ship in their honor,” Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer, said in a statement Tuesday.

“The Navajo class of Towing, Salvage, and Rescue ships will serve our nation and continue the legacy of the Navajo people, and all Native Americans,” he added.

The move to have the Navy name the class after the Navajo was previously advocated for by the late Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainPelosi receives John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award Romney: Trump 'has distanced himself from some of the best qualities of the human character' MSNBC host: Barr 'the most dangerous person' who works for Trump MORE (R-Ariz.)

There were more than 400 Navajo code talkers who used their native tongue to develop a secret and undecipherable code to help the United States defeat Japan during World War II.

"Throughout our history, the Diné people have always been the caretakers and protectors of our land in every branch of the armed services, so we are very grateful that our people are being recognized through this historic announcement from the Navy," Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said in a statement.

McCain, a retired Navy captain, strongly advocated to name a ship class honoring the Navajo before his death last August. 

His wife, Cindy McCain, called it a “deserved and overdue honor.”

“John worked hard to ensure the Navajo Nation’s contributions to our security and culture were recognized by the U.S. Navy in the manner in which it traditionally pays tribute to important American communities,” Cindy McCain wrote in a statement.

Gulf Island Shipyards was awarded a $63.5 million contract to construct the new class of ships. They are expected to be completed by March 2021, according to a statement from the Navajo Nation.