Christening of John Lewis naval ship will mark one year after his death

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus embraces U.S. Rep. John Lewis in 2017 as they unveil a rendering of a ship to be named after the Georgia congressman. (Courtesy: Office of John Lewis)
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Navy Secretary Ray Mabus embraces U.S. Rep. John Lewis in 2017 as they unveil a rendering of a ship to be named after the Georgia congressman. (Courtesy: Office of John Lewis)

The christening of a Navy ship named after former Congressman John Lewis is scheduled for July 17, the one-year anniversary of his death.

The event will be held at the San Diego shipyard where the 742-foot-long vessel was built. U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will lead a delegation of House members who are attending the event.

»Click here to watch the christening of the USNS John Lewis live, which is scheduled about noon Saturday

That group will include U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, a Republican from Pooler who represents Navy bases in southeast Georgia, and U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams of Atlanta, who now holds Lewis’ 5th Congressional District seat.

“May the USNS John Lewis remind all who see it of the goodness and courage of John Lewis, and may it be an inspiration as we seek to carry on his mission: to build a future of liberty and justice for all,” Pelosi said in a news release about the christening.

Members of Lewis’ family will also make the trip to San Diego for the official naming ceremony of the ship, an oiler that transports fuel to re-up other Navy vessels.

Oscar-nominated actress Alfre Woodard has been named the sponsor of the ship, which gives her the honor of breaking a bottle of champagne on its hull as a sign of good luck to the crew.

Other events are also planned to honor the civil rights leader, who died last year after being diagnosed with advanced-stage pancreatic cancer. In Nashville, Tennessee, city leaders will hold a memorial service and dedication of a street that will be named Rep. John Lewis Way on July 17.