African-Americans and the U.S. Navy
U.S. Navy Ships Named in Honor of African Americans



As of early 2010, ten Navy ships have been named in honor of African Americans. This page lists these ships, and provides links to pictures of seven of them.


U.S. Navy Ships (including ships of the Military Sealift Command) named in honor of African-Americans include:

  • USS Harmon (DE-678), 1943-1967. The first ship to be named for an African-American, Harmon honored Mess Attendant First Class Leonard Roy Harmon, who posthumously was awarded the Navy Cross for heroism during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, 13 November 1942.

  • USS George Washington Carver (SSBN-656), 1966-1993. Named in honor of the noted scientist George Washington Carver (1864-1943).

  • USS Jesse L. Brown (DE-1089, later FF-1089 and FFT-1089), 1973-1994. Named in honor of Ensign Jesse L. Brown, USN (1926-1950), the first African-American Naval Aviator, who was killed in action during the Korean War.

  • USS Miller (DE-1091, later FF-1091), 1973-199___. Named in honor of Cook Third Class Doris ("Dorie") Miller, who was awarded the Navy Cross for heroism during the Pearl Harbor Raid, 7 December 1941.

  • USNS PFC James Anderson, Jr. (T-AK-3002), 1985-___. Named in honor of Private First Class James Anderson, Jr., USMC (1947-1967), who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism during the Vietnam War.

  • USS Rodney M. Davis (FFG-60), 1987-___. Named in honor of Sergeant Rodney M. Davis, USMC (1942-1967), who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism during the Vietnam War.

  • USNS Henson (T-AGS-63), 1998-___. Named in honor of the Arctic Explorer Matthew Alexander Henson (1866-1955).

  • USNS Watson (T-AKR-310), 1998-___. Named in honor of Private George Watson, U.S. Army (19??-1943), who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism during the Second World War.

  • USS Oscar Austin (DDG-79) 2000-___. Named in honor of Private First Class Oscar P. Austin, USMC (1948-1969), who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism during the Vietnam War.
  • USS Pinckney (DDG 91) 2004- ___. Named in honor of Navy Cross recipient Ship’s Cook 3rd Class William Pinckney who rescued a fellow crew member onboard the carrier Enterprise during the Battle of Santa Cruz in October 1942.

  • USNS Carl Brashear (T-AKE 7), 2009 - ___. Named in honor of Master Chief Boatswain's Mate (Master Diver) Carl M. Brashear (1931-2006), who joined the U.S. Navy in 1948. He was a pioneer in the Navy as one of the first African-Americans to graduate from the Navy Diving School and was designated a Navy salvage diver. He was the first African-American to qualify and serve as a master diver while on active duty and the first U.S. Navy diver to be restored to full active duty as an amputee, the result of a leg injury he sustained during a salvage operation. After 31 years of service, Brashear officially retired from the U.S. Navy on April 1, 1979. Brashear was the subject of the 2000 movie "Men of Honor" starring Cuba Gooding Jr.


  • USS Gravely (DDG 107), (under construction) to be commissioned in fall 2010 - present. Named in honor of Vice Adm. Samuel L. Gravely Jr. (1922-2004), who was the first African American in the U.S. Navy to be commissioned an officer, the first African American to command a warship (USS Theodore E. Chandler); to command a major warship (USS Jouett); to achieve flag rank and eventually vice admiral; and to command a numbered fleet (3rd).


  • USNS Medgar Evers (T-AKE 13) (under construction). Named in honor of 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.



  • USS Oscar Austin


    For further pictorial coverage, see African-Americans and the U.S. Navy





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