Justice Kagan christens ship
Justice Elena Kagan breaks a bottle of champagne on the hull of the future USNS Earl Warren. Courtesy General Dynamics NASSCO

Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan christened a new fleet oiler named after former Chief Justice Earl Warren at a ceremony Saturday in the NASSCO shipyard.

Kagan broke a champagne bottle on the 742-foot ship’s steel hull in the time-honored ceremony.

“Along with its namesake, this majestic vessel will be instrumental in shaping the future of our nation. The shipbuilders of NASSCO are proud to have ensured Earl Warren’s legacy will live on in this ship,” said David Carver, president of General Dynamics NASSCO.

The future USNS Earl Warren will be the Navy’s third John Lewis-class fleet oiler. The ships are designed to transfer fuel to Navy carrier battle groups operating at sea. They can carry 157,000 barrels of oil as well as dry cargo.

The Navy has ordered eight, all of which are named for leaders in the battle of civil rights. The lead ship USNS John Lewis was delivered last year, and the USNS Harvey Milk will be delivered later this year. The Robert F. Kennedy and Lucy Stone are under construction at the shipyard in Barrio Logan.

Warren served as Attorney General and Governor of California before being appointed to the Supreme Court. During his 16 years as Chief Justice, civil rights and civil liberties were dramatically expanded, marking this period as one of the most important in the history of American constitutional law.

“Indeed, the ship’s motto could not be more appropriate: ‘I Will Find a Way or I Will Make One,’” said Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro. “That’s exactly what a young Earl Warren did when he overcame obstacles to joining the Army during the First World War, and that’s what he continued to do in the fight for equality, democracy, and social justice throughout his life.”


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Ellen Bullock