US Navy’s eighth Navajo-class salvage ship to honour decorated Chippewa Tribe sailor

Photo: US Navy
Photo: US Navy

US Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro has confirmed that a future Navajo-class Towing, Salvage, and Rescue (T-ATS) ship will be named in honour of James D. Fairbanks, member of the Chippewa Tribe and the 13th Force Master Chief Petty Officer of the Naval Construction Battalions ("Seabees").

The naming selection of the future USNS James D. Fairbanks follows the tradition of naming towing, salvage and rescue ships after prominent Native Americans or Native American tribes.

Master Chief Fairbanks served in both the US Navy and Marine Corps at various times between 1970 and 2008. While deployed to Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom, he received the Bronze Star for meritorious leadership under proximate enemy fire and threat of enemy attack.

From 2005 to 2008, Fairbanks served as the 13th Force Master Chief for the Seabees, the highest-ranking enlisted Seabee. He was also the first Native American to hold this position.

The ocean-going towing, salvage, and rescue ships will be designed to support the navy's fleet operations. Each T-ATS will have a multi-mission common hull platform capable of towing heavy ships.

The vessels will be capable of supporting a variety of missions including oil spill response, humanitarian assistance, search and rescue (SAR), and surveillance.

The future James D. Fairbanks and four other T-ATS will be built by Austal USA.

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