US Navy names new Navajo-class T-ATS Solomon Atkinson

US Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) Carlos Del Toro announced today that a future Navajo-class towing, salvage, and rescue (T-ATS) ship will be named in honor of Solomon Atkinson, a pioneering Navy SEAL.

US Navy

The announcement was made the announcement on the Metlakatla’s Founders Day on 7 August. The name selection of USNS Solomon Atkinson (T-ATS 12) follows the tradition of naming towing, salvage, and rescue ships after prominent Native Americans or Native American tribes.   

Born in 1930 in Metlakatla, Alaska, Solomon Atkinson was raised by his parents on the sole Indian Reserve in Alaska. Atkinson worked as a commercial fisherman before enlisting in the U.S. Navy in 1952. A year later, Atkinson volunteered for the underwater demolition teams and became a frogman, the precursor to present day SEALs. In 1962, Atkinson became one of the first Navy SEALs and was a plank owner for SEAL Team 1. 

As a SEAL, he deployed to Korea and completed three combat tours in Vietnam. 

Along with the ship’s name, Del Toro announced the sponsors for the future USNS Solomon Atkinson as his widow, Joann Atkinson and their two daughters, Michele Gunyah and Maria Hayward.

“I am honored to name the next T-ATS after Solomon Atkinson, a man who achieved many firsts, even in the face of adversity, and continued to lead,” said Del Toro.

“Atkinson’s achievements as a SEAL have left behind an enduring legacy, not just in the Special Warfare Community, but with our nation’s astronauts as well. I am pleased to ensure that his name will extend globally to all who views this great ship.”

Navajo-class ships will provide ocean-going tug, salvage, and rescue capabilities to support Fleet operations. The current capabilities are provided by Powhatan-class T-ATF Fleet Tugs and Safeguard-class T-ARS Rescue and Salvage vessels, which began reaching the end of their expected service lives in 2020. Navajo-class ships will be capable of towing U.S. Navy ships and will have 6,000 square feet of deck space for embarked systems.