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Bollinger Shipyards Christens USNS Cherokee Nation Christening (T-ATS 7)

Posted on June 12, 2024

USNS Cherokee Nation is the second Bollinger-built towing, salvage, and rescue ship

T-ATS to replace the aging Safeguard-class rescue and salvage ships and Powhatan-class tugboats

Houma, La. – Representatives from Bollinger Shipyards (“Bollinger”) gathered Saturday alongside senior U.S. Navy officials at Bollinger Houma to christen the U.S. Navy’s newest towing, rescue, and salvage ship, (T-ATS) the USNS Cherokee Nation. The Hon. Franklin Parker, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Manpower and Reserve Affairs joined ship’s sponsor and Deputy Speaker of the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council, the Hon. Victoria Mitchell Vazquez and Matron of Honor, Kailey Beth Rincher to celebrate the new addition to the fleet and pay homage to its namesake.

The second Bollinger-built ship of the Navy’s Navajo class, the USNS Cherokee Nation is named to honor the Cherokee people and pay homage to their significant contributions to our Armed Services and national defense.

“Bollinger is honored to celebrate the christening of the newest T-ATS ship alongside the U.S. Navy and the Cherokee Nation,” said Ben Bordelon, President and CEO of Bollinger Shipyards. “We’re proud that every Bollinger-built NAVAJO-class Towing, Salvage, and Rescue Ship is manufactured to the highest level of craftsmanship and quality – the Bollinger Standard. It is a privilege to partner with the U.S. Navy to construct this new class of vessel and we look forward to continuing this partnership for many years to come.”

The Navajo class is operated by the Navy’s Military Sealift Command and provides ocean-going tug, salvage, and rescue capabilities to support fleet operations. T-ATS replaces and fulfills the capabilities previously provided by the Powhatan-class Fleet Ocean Tug (T-ATF) and Safeguard-class Rescue and Salvage Ships (T-ARS) class ships.

“The USNS Cherokee Nation and other Navajo-class vessels are multi-purpose powerhouse vessels,” said Vice Admiral Scott Gray, Commander, U.S. Navy Installations Command during his remarks. “The versatility of this class of ship adds immeasurably to the capabilities of the United States Navy with regards to rendering assistance to those in peril on the high seas. The new Navajo-class ships will help ensure our sailors and marines receive critical, timely support to stay in the fight around the globe and the US Navy stands ready to respond quickly if disaster strikes.”

USNS Cherokee Nation is the fifth U.S. ship to be named in honor of the Cherokee people and the first since the World War II-era Cherokee-Class fleet of U.S. Navy ocean tugboats, making this honor noteworthy. Further, these vessels will expand capabilities and serve as a critical backbone for the entire fleet.

The USNS Cherokee Nation is the second of ten planned Navajo-class T-ATS. The contract includes a total of five vessels to be built at Bollinger Houma Shipyards, each to be named in honor of a federally recognized Native American tribe. Navajo-class ships will be capable to towing U.S. Navy ships, including Aircraft Carriers, and will have 6,000 square feet of deck space for embarked systems.

In addition to the USNS Cherokee Nation (T-ATS 7), Bollinger is also constructing USNS Navajo (T-ATS 6), USNS Saginaw Ojibwe Anishinabek (T-ATS 8), USNS Lenni Lenape (T-ATS 9) and USNS Muscogee Creek Nation (T-ATS 10).

About the Navajo-class Towing, Salvage and Rescue Ship Platform

The Navajo-class is a new series of towing, salvage and rescue ships (T-ATS) being constructed for the U.S. Navy. The Navajo-class is a multi-mission common hull platform that will be deployed to support a range of missions such as towing, rescue, salvage, humanitarian assistance, oil spill response and wide-area search and surveillance operations using unmanned underwater vehicles (UUV) and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). The vessels will replace the existing Powhatan-class T-ATF fleet ocean tugs and Safeguard-class T-ARS rescue and salvage ships in service with the US Military Sealift Command.

About Bollinger Shipyards LLC

Bollinger Shipyards ( has a 78-year legacy as a leading designer and builder of high-performance military patrol boats and salvage vessels, research vessels, ocean-going double hull barges, offshore oil field support vessels, tugboats, rigs, lift boats, inland waterways push boats, barges, and other steel and aluminum products from its new construction shipyards as part of the U. S. industrial base. Bollinger has 13 shipyards, all strategically located throughout Louisiana and Mississippi with direct access to the Gulf of Mexico, the Mississippi River and the Intracoastal Waterway. Bollinger is the largest vessel repair company in the Gulf of Mexico region.


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