Navy Honors John Lewis, Congress’ Most Outspoken Pacifist, by Naming New Fleet Class After Him

Atlanta Congressman John Lewis said as recently as July 2012 “war is not the answer. War is obsolete. It cannot be used as a tool of our foreign policy. It’s barbaric.” 

So then it makes perfect sense to put his name on the newest class of ships in the United States Naval fleet…right?

Because that’s exactly what the Navy did. 

On Wednesday, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and Cong. Lewis announced that a new class of fleet oilers will be named after Lewis. Each oiler will bear the name of a civil rights icon. The first of which is expected to begin construction in 2018 and will be named the USNS John Lewis.

In a statement, Secretary Mabus said:

“As the first of its class, the future USNS John Lewis will play a vital role in the mission of our Navy and Marine Corps while also forging a new path in fleet replenishment. Naming this ship after John Lewis is a fitting tribute to a man who has, from his youth, been at the forefront of progressive social and human rights movements in the U.S., directly shaping both the past and future of our nation. T-AO 205 will, for decades to come, serve as a visible symbol of the freedoms Representative Lewis holds dear, and his example will live on in the steel of that ship and in all those who will serve aboard her.”

Lewis added:

“When the Secretary came by my office and shared the idea with me that he would like to name a ship for me, we both teared up a bit, and I almost lost it.  This is such a magnificent vessel.  It is a great honor.  It is my hope that the USNS John Lewis and the entire class of ships commemorating civil rights heroes will inspire future generations to do all they can to serve humanity and this country.”

The future USNS John Lewis will be operated by Military Sealift Command and provide underway replenishment of fuel and stores to U.S. Navy ships at sea and jet fuel for aircraft assigned to aircraft carriers

I suppose this is more appropriate than, say, a new class of destroyers.


  1. benevolus says:

    One could make the argument that having a strong military is a deterrent and therefore a path to peace.

    We haven’t always lived up to that though.

    • Ed says:

      CAPTAIN: “Simpson, what do you want?”
      HOMER: “I want peas.”
      CAPTAIN: “We all want peace, but it’s always a little out of reach. And how do you get peace?…”
      HOMER: “With a knife.”

  2. Trey A. says:

    Yes. And we have the USS George H.W. Bush, both of which are USS Nimitz class Aircraft carriers. So is the USS Carl Vinson (also named for a Georgian Congressman).

    The USS Jimmy Carter is a Seawolf class fast attack submarine (the only active submarine named after a person. Carter, our only president to graduate from Annapolis, was a submarine officer).

    There may be some other Navy ships named after Georgians, but the list is assuredly short. Perry Class frigates and Burke class destroyers all have people names–mostly Naval heroes.

    Pretty cool honor for Rep. Lewis. Certainly deserved.

    If you’ve never seen an underway replenishment, youtube it. That is what the USNS John Lewis will be doing once its finally commissioned years from now. It’s a pretty amazing site to behold–especially as OOD from the bridge of one of the ships!

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