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USNS Harvey Milk arrives in San Francisco Bay on historic maiden voyage visit

USNS Harvey Milk makes historic first ever port visit to San Francisco
USNS Harvey Milk makes historic first ever port visit to San Francisco 03:00

The US Naval ship named after the late civil rights icon Harvey Milk arrived in San Francisco Bay Thursday afternoon, making its historic first visit to the Port of San Francisco.

Watch: USNS Harvey Milk sails under Golden Gate Bridge on maiden voyage 08:25

CBS News Bay Area livestreamed the arrival of the ship as it passed under the Golden Gate Bridge on the CBSSF.com home page as well as on the station's YouTube channel

In July 2016, then United States Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus advised Congress of his plan to name the John Lewis-class oilers after prominent civil rights leaders, with this particular ship being named in honor of gay rights activist Milk. He served in the US Navy during the Korean War aboard USS Kittiwake (ASR-13), a submarine rescue ship, and held the rank of lieutenant (junior grade). 

Milk's career as a Navy officer ended with an "other than honorable" discharge, due to allegations of fraternization with enlisted personnel. He went on to become one of the first openly gay candidates elected to public office in the nation. He was serving on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors on November 27, 1978, when a former political colleague, Dan White, assassinated him and Mayor George Moscone at City Hall.  

The ship was officially named at a ceremony in San Francisco on August 16, 2016, and was christened and launched from San Diego Bay in November of 2021. The USNS Harvey Milk (T-AO 206) is an oiler ship that provides diesel fuel, lubricating oil and jet fuel as well as small quantities of fresh and frozen provisions, dry stores and potable water to Navy ships at sea.

"So to have this second ship of that class be named after Harvey Milk is incredible," said U.S. Navy Media Officer Brian O'Rourke. "To have that ship visit San Francisco on its very first port visit -- not only its first port visit to San Francisco, but its first port visit ever to be San Francisco, is so significant. This was Harvey's chosen city; very important to him. To have this ship come to San Francisco is a testament to his legacy."

On Friday, officials will hold a ceremony to honor the ship and its namesake as well as a salute to veterans at Pier 30/32. The vessel is not open to the public and will be departing San Francisco later that afternoon to head off for its first mission in the Middle East.

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