US Navy Names Ship After Late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

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Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg addresses attendees.
Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg addresses attendees during a Sunset Parade reception at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., June 12, 2012. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Christopher A. Green)

The Navy has announced a future oil ship (T-AO 212) will be named the USNS Ruth Bader Ginsburg in honor of the late U.S. Supreme Court associate justice.

Ginsburg is noted for being the second woman to serve on the nation's highest court and for authoring the majority opinion in the landmark 1996 Supreme Court case United States v. Virginia that ended the Virginia Military Institute's male-only admissions policy.

"As Secretary of the Navy, it is my aim to ensure equality and eliminate gender discrimination across the Department of the Navy," Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro said in a press statement revealing the decision. "She is instrumental to why we now have women of all backgrounds, experiences and talents serving within our ranks, side by side with their male Sailor and Marine counterparts."

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Ginsburg was also a military spouse. In June 1954, before both she and her husband, Martin (Marty) Ginsburg, were accepted into Harvard Law School, the future justice moved to Fort Sill, Oklahoma with Marty, who was teaching field artillery while serving in the Army. Both Ginsburgs are buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

The Ginsburgs' daughter has been named as the ship's sponsor, according to Del Toro.

This will be the eighth John Lewis-class replenishment oiler for the Navy, each of which is named after a historic American who fought for civil and human rights. The class and lead ship, T-AO 205, received its namesake from the late Congressman John Lewis. Other ships in the fleet include those named in honor of the former attorney general and senator Robert F. Kennedy and the first Black Supreme Court justice, Thurgood Marshall.

A $3.2 billion contract with General Dynamics NASSCO in San Diego paid for the design and construction of the first six ships in the John Lewis class, each of which will measure roughly 742 feet in length, according to a Navy press release.

So far, the USNS John Lewis and one other ship in the class have been completed, with the rest under construction or on order but experiencing delays. The fleet is operated by Military Sealift Command and used for transferring fuel to the Navy's operating carrier strike groups at sea.

The fleet will eventually replace the Henry J. Kaiser class of oilers (T-AO 187) and is expected to include 20 ships in total, according to the Government Accountability Office.

-- Jonathan Lehrfeld is a fellow at Military.com. Follow him on Twitter @lehrfeld_media.

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