US Navy Christens Second Navajo Vessel in Louisiana

The US Navy has christened the second Navajo-class towing, rescue, and salvage ship, the USNS Cherokee Nation (T-ATS 7), at the Bollinger Shipyards facility in Louisiana.

The vessel was named in honor of the Cherokee people and their contributions to the country’s national security and armed forces.

It is the fifth US craft to bear the community’s name and the first since the Second World War.

The T-ATS 7’s keel was laid at the Houma Terrebonne Civic Center in 2020 to formally start its construction process.

“We’re proud that every Bollinger-built NAVAJO-class Towing, Salvage, and Rescue Ship is manufactured to the highest level of craftsmanship and quality – the Bollinger Standard,” Bollinger Shipyards CEO and President Ben Bordelon remarked during the christening ceremony.

“It is a privilege to partner with the US Navy to construct this new class of vessel and we look forward to continuing this partnership for many years to come.”

‘Powerhouse’ Ship

The USNS Cherokee Nation will sail with eight planned Navajo ships being built in partnership with Bollinger Shipyards, Austal USA, and Gulf Island Fabrication when it enters service.

In addition to the vessel, Bollinger is engaged with the development of the lead Navajo vessel (T-ATS 6), USNS Saginaw Ojibwe Anishinabek (T-ATS 8), USNS Lenni Lenape (T-ATS 9) and USNS Muscogee Creek Nation (T-ATS 10).

In 2022, the US Department of Defense placed a $156-million order for two more ships (T-ATS 14 and 15).

USNS Cherokee Nation towing, rescue, and salvage ship, (T-ATS 7). Photo: Bollinger Shipyards
USNS Cherokee Nation towing, rescue, and salvage ship, (T-ATS 7). Photo: Bollinger Shipyards

“The USNS Cherokee Nation and other Navajo-class vessels are multi-purpose powerhouse vessels,” US Navy Installations Commander Vice Admr. Scott Gray stated.

“The versatility of this class of ship adds immeasurably to the capabilities of the United States Navy with regards to rendering assistance to those in peril on the high seas.”

“The new Navajo-class ships will help ensure our sailors and marines receive critical, timely support to stay in the fight around the globe and the US Navy stands ready to respond quickly if disaster strikes.”

The Navajo-Class

The Navajo-class is fitted with modernized capabilities found on earlier T-ATS vessels to match the US military’s evolving requirements.

Each system under the fleet measures 80 meters (263 feet) and has a beam of 18 meters (60 feet).

They are powered by diesel engines capable of supporting up to 8,170 nautical miles (9,400 miles/15,100 kilometers) of range and 15.1 knots (28 kilometers/17 miles per hour) of speed.

A Navajo ship can accommodate over 60 sailors, while its 6,000-square-foot (560-square-meter) deck can receive embarked aircraft.

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