US Navy officials have christened the second Navajo-class towing, salvage and rescue (T-ATS) ship to enter service at Bollinger Shipyards in Houma, Louisiana on 10 June 2024.

The new vessel is named USNS Cherokee Nation in honour of the Cherokee people, paying homage to the their significant contributions to the US Armed Forces and national defence. Cherokee Nation is the fifth US ship in history to be named in honour of the Cherokee people and the first since the Second World War-era Cherokee-Class fleet of US Navy ocean tugboats.

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.

USNS Navajo, the first of the class, was christened T-ATS 6 from the same shipyard in late August 2023.

This new class of auxiliary ships 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 uncrewed underwater vehicles and uncrewed aerial vehicles.

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T-ATS is a multi-mission common hull platform with a length of 263 feet (ft) (80 metres (m)), beam of 59ft (17.98m) and draft of 17.7ft (5.39m).

It has a displacement of 5,110 tonnes (t) and load carrying capacity of 1,796t. The winning design of Gulf Island was based on the Wartsila VS 4612 anchor handling tug supply vessel.

The propulsion system includes a diesel-mechanical propulsion plant with shaft generators. The ship has an installed power of 9,408kW with two 900kW bow thrusters and one 900kW stern thruster.