CN, Navy celebrate beginning construction of USNS Cherokee Nation

BY STAFF REPORTS
02/13/2020 04:30 PM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
From left to right are Tribal Council Deputy Speaker Victoria Vazquez, Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr., U.S. Navy Chief Engineer David Scarberry and Cherokee Nation Secretary of Veterans Affairs S. Joe Crittenden. The three tribal officials on Feb. 12 presented Scarberry with a CN flag during a ceremony marking the start of construction of a naval vessel named the USNS Cherokee Nation in Houma, Louisiana. COURTESY 
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Tribal Council Deputy Speaker Victoria Vazquez and Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. on Feb. 12 hold a piece of metal with their initials on it in Houma, Louisiana. The metal is to be welded into a piece of the future USNS Cherokee Nation. COURTESY 
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Deputy Chief Bryan Warner visits with Cherokee National Treasure Dan Mink about the Navy crest for the USNS Cherokee Nation, which Mink helped design. COURTESY 
HOUMA, La. – The Cherokee Nation and U.S. Navy gathered in Louisiana on Feb. 12 to see early construction of the USNS Cherokee Nation (T-ATS 7) and celebrate the vessel’s first milestone. 

One of the U.S. Navy’s newest towing, rescue and salvage ships is being named the “Cherokee Nation” to honor the service and contributions CN citizens have made to the Navy and Marine Corps. 

On Feb. 12, the Navy held a keel-laying ceremony, the first of two major ceremonies in the life of a new ship, CN officials said. 

During the ceremony, Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. and Deputy Speaker Victoria Vazquez’s initials were welded into the ship’s steel to celebrate the achievement of the first major modules of the ship joining together. Vazquez was selected as the ship’s female sponsor as part of Navy tradition, CN officials said.

“Throughout time, our Cherokee people have served as protectors of this country, contributing in every major battle and war ever fought,” Hoskin said. “Today, our tribal citizens continue to serve the armed forces in disproportionately higher rates showing that same patriotism and bravery. Today, we are proud Cherokees and proud this ship will bear our great name. We stand with the men and women in the armed forces and we mark this occasion as among the proudest in Cherokee history.” 

Officials said the USNS Cherokee Nation will play a role in the country’s national defense strategy by enhancing the breadth and scope of support to the fleet of sailors and marines. Officials said it will also provide a wide range of missions, including open ocean towing, oil spill response, humanitarian assistance and wide area search and surveillance. 

Completion of the ship is scheduled for October 2021.

Navy officials said the USNS Cherokee Nation is the fifth U.S. ship to be named in honor of the Cherokee people and the first since a World War II-era tugboat dubbed the “Cherokee.” 

“We are honored to have so many representatives of the Cherokee Nation in attendance to celebrate the first event in the life of this ship,” Mike Kosar, Support Ships, Boats and Craft program manager, said. “The ship is critical to the operations of our fleet, and will soon sail with the pride and determination of the Cherokee people, which it is named to honor.” 

Cherokee National Treasure Dan Mink worked with the Navy to design a crest for the USNS Cherokee Nation, which was on display during the ceremony. 

The crest symbolizes the partnership between the CN and Navy. The red and gold scroll honors the service and contributions the Cherokee people made to the Marine Corps. Written in Cherokee syllabary is “Water Warrior” and refers to the crew of the USNS Cherokee Nation.

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