Bollinger Christens US Navy Towing and Salvage Ship

HOUMA, La. – On Aug. 26, representatives from Bollinger Shipyards  joined senior U.S. Navy officials pier side at Bollinger Houma to christen the USNS Navajo, the lead ship of the Navy’s new Navajo-class of towing, salvage and rescue ships. The Hon. Arlando Teller, assistant secretary for tribal affairs, 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 the Navajo.

“This isn’t just any ship. It’s the first of its kind,” said Ben Bordelon, president and CEO of Bollinger Shipyards. “This is a Bollinger-built, Navajo-class towing, salvage, and rescue ship manufactured to the highest level of craftsmanship and quality. 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 U.S. Navy towing, salvage and rescue ships is named in recognition of the tribe and the Diné people, and their contributions to the U.S. military and the country’s defense. 

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“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 ocean-going 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 Ships (T-ARS 50) class ships.

Laid down in October 2019 and launched in May 2023, the USNS Navajo is the first of nine planned Navajo-class T-ATS. In addition to the USNS Navajo (T-ATS 6), 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).

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