The US Navy has christened the first Navajo-class towing, salvage, and rescue ship (T-ATS), the future USNS Navajo (T-ATS 6), in Houma, Louisiana.

The Navy’s Military Sealift Command will operate the future USNS Navajo.

The Navajo-class vessels have been designed to replace Powhatan-class T-ATF fleet ocean tugs and Safeguard-class T-ARS rescue and salvage ships, which are currently in service with the US Military Sealift Command.

These new vessels will be deployed by the US Navy to support missions such as ocean-going salvage, towing, rescue, humanitarian assistance, oil spill response and wide-area search and surveillance operations using uncrewed underwater vehicles (UUV) and uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAV).

The future USNS Navajo has been christened by member of the Navajo Nation, Miss Navajo Nation 2006 and T-ATS 6 sponsor Jocelyn Billy.

The T-ATS Navajo-class is a multi-mission common hull platform with load carrying capacity of 1,796t and displacement of 5,110t.

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The ship has a length of 263ft, beam of 59ft and draft of 17.7ft.

Delivery of the first vessel is expected in early next year.

Earlier this year, the US Navy awarded a contract option to Austal USA to build two additional Navajo-class ships.

Austal USA is scheduled to start construction of the T-ATS 13 in the second half (H2) of the calendar year (CY) 2023 and the T-ATS 14 in H1 of CY2024.

Planned to be built at Austal’s steel production facility, the T-ATS 13 is projected to be delivered in H2 of CY2025, while the second vessel will be handed over by H1 CY2026.