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USNS Harvey Milk

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The US Navy has announced its decision to name a new ship the USNS Harvey Milk, named for the gay murdered San Francisco city councilman. The ship will be a fleet oiler (i.e., tanker) and is not a commissioned warship. USNS vessels generally carry a civilian crew and are somewhat more luxurious than the typical navy ship because they have to compete with other civilian ships for their crews.

What is surprising is that the Milk will come sequentially before several other very prominent civil rights leaders. The Navy is apparently trying to make a point.


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When oilers service one of our U.S. Navy vessels (in peacetime) and complete their fueling, they usually steam away with loudspeakers blaring loud and clear with their signature "breakaway music". Our regular oiler, when I served briefly on the U.S.S. Independence, always blasted us with Willie Nelson's wonderful "On the Road Again". Any nominations for a tune the USNS Harvey Milk might use?

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The captain of a destroyer used to like to play the "cavalry charge" over the pa when he pulled away from fueling or replenishing ship. Finally, someone with a deeper knowledge of naval customs, traditions and usages, told him that in the navy, that call meant "abandon ship". He had enough respect for tradition that he stopped sounding "abandon ship". This wasn't my ship but the Chief Gunner told me the story.

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