The newest cargo ship being built in San Diego will be named the USNS César Chávez after the late civil rights leader despite objections from a San Diego congressman.
Navy Secretary Ray Mabus confirmed the ship’s name Wednesday during a visit to the NAASCO shipyard in Barrio Logan.
“César Chávez inspired young Americans to do what is right and what is necessary to protect our freedoms and our country,” Mabus said. “The César Chávez will sail hundreds of thousands of miles, and will bring support and assistance to thousands upon thousands of people. His example will live on in this great ship.”
The naming drew criticism Tuesday from Rep. Duncan D. Hunter, R-El Cajon, who accused the Navy of being more interested in making a political statement than upholding its history and tradition.
“If this decision were about recognizing the Hispanic community’s contribution to our nation, many other names come to mind, including Marine Corps Sgt. Rafael Peralta, who was nominated for the Medal of Honor for action in Iraq,” Hunter said. “Peralta is one of many Hispanic war heroes–some of whom are worthy of the same recognition.”
Peralta, from Escondido, was killed in action in Fallujah, Iraq, and was eventually awarded the Navy Cross.