The Navy announced Oct. 9 the newest Lewis and Clark-class dry cargo/ammunition ship (T-AKE) would be named USNS Medgar Evers. The announcement was made by Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus during a Jackson State University speaking engagement in Mississippi.Mr. Evers was a WWII veteran buried at Arlington National Cemetary:
Continuing the Lewis and Clark-class tradition of honoring legendary pioneers and explorers, the Navy's newest underway replenishment ship recognizes civil rights activist Medgar Evers (1925-1963) who forever changed race relations in America. At a time when our country was wrestling to end segregation and racial injustice, Evers led efforts to secure the right to vote for all African Americans and to integrate public facilities, schools, and restaurants. On June 12, 1963, the Mississippi native was assassinated in the driveway of his home. Evers' death prompted President John F. Kennedy to ask the Congress for a comprehensive civil rights bill.
Designated T-AKE 13, Medgar Evers will be the 13th ship of the class, and is being built by General Dynamics NASSCO in San Diego. As a combat logistics force ship, Medgar Evers will help the Navy maintain a worldwide forward presence by delivering ammunition, food, fuel, and other dry cargo to U.S. and allied ships at sea.
As part of Military Sealift Command's Naval Fleet Auxiliary Force, Medgar Evers will be designated as a United States Naval Ship (USNS) and will be crewed by 124 civil service mariners and 11 Navy sailors. The ship is designed to operate independently for extended periods at sea, can carry a helicopter, is 689 feet in length, has an overall beam of 106 feet, has a navigational draft of 30 feet, displaces approximately 42,000 tons, and is capable of reaching a speed of 20 knots using a single-shaft, diesel-electric propulsion system.
Evers was Mississippi NAACP field secretary from 1954 until he was killed. He was known for promoting black voter registration at a time when poll taxes, literacy tests and violence tried to prevent it. As a World War II veteran who had fought in France, Evers tried to register to vote in 1946 at the Newton County Courthouse in Decatur, only to be turned away by an angry white mob.