Skip to main content

LATEST UPDATES: Tracking COVID-19 | Racial Justice | Voter Guide

Rep. John Lewis Initiates Construction On Namesake Navy Oiler

Rep. John Lewis, D-Georgia and actress Alfre Woodard attend a keel ceremony f...

Photo by Andi Dukleth

Above: Rep. John Lewis, D-Georgia and actress Alfre Woodard attend a keel ceremony for the future USNS John Lewis build by General Dynamics NASSCO in San Diego, May 13, 2019.

USNS John Lewis is being built by General Dynamics Nassco in San Diego and on Monday the Congressman from Georgia was in town to formally kick off its construction.

"John Lewis has dedicated his life to protecting human rights — protecting civil liberties and building what he calls the beloved community," said President of General Dynamics NASSCO Kevin Graney.

The U.S. Navy’s latest class of oilers is being named after Lewis.

Reported by Matt Hoffman

"If someone would have told me when I was growing up in rural Alabama — during the height of the civil rights movement — that one day I would have a series of ships named after me I would have said, 'you’re crazy,'" Lewis said.

The first ship in the oiler fleet is named the USNS John Lewis and is sponsored by actress Alfre Woodard. Lewis and Woodard were at NASSCO's shipyard Monday for a keel laying ceremony. Lewis also welded his initials on a steel plate that will go on the ship.

Lewis hopes that when future generations see his name on the ship they will look back at his fight for civil rights.

"See what I tried to do as a teenager and in my 20s and my 30s," Lewis said. "To make America better and to make our world better."

Lewis said the diversity of the crew building the ship is inspiring.

"They’re black, they're white, they’re Latino, they’re Asian American, they’re Native American — if people can come together and build a ship to travel the sea, why we can’t come together as a people?" Lewis said.

Construction of USNS John Lewis is scheduled for completion in late 2020.

One of the Navy’s newest ships is being named after civil rights leader and Georgia Rep. John Lewis who was in San Diego for a ceremony Monday.

You can hear this story and other local news every morning by subscribing to San Diego News Matters, KPBS’ daily news podcast. Subscribe via iTunes, Google Play or your favorite podcatcher.


San Diego News Matters podcast branding

KPBS' daily news podcast covering local politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings so you can listen on your morning commute.

  • Need help keeping up with the news that matters most? Get the day's top news — ranging from local to international — straight to your inbox each weekday morning.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Photo of Matt Hoffman

Matt Hoffman
General Assignment Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI am a general assignment reporter for KPBS. In addition to covering the latest news and issues that are relevant to the San Diego community, I like to dig deeper to find the voices and perspectives that other media often miss.

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or sign up for our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.