Soon, the name of the Puyallup Tribe will be known world wide as one of the U.S. Navy’s newest tugboats embarks into the Pacific Ocean.
According to Jonathan Platt, vice president for J.M. Martinac Shipbuilding of Tacoma, the Navy has a long history of naming tugboats after Native American tribes.
Martinac has just completed the fifth in a series of Naval support boats, named after the tribe that the shipbuilding company has a close geographical and work relationship with.
The previous tugboat was named after the Seminole Tribe.
“We wanted our customer - the U.S. Navy - to be happy, but we also wanted them to be aware of the area. We felt very strongly that the name for this tugboat should be the Puyallup because they are our neighbors,” Platt said. “The Navy was delighted with the idea.”
Once the boat reached a certain level of completion, it is launched into the water, where the finishing touches take place.
The Puyallup tugboat was launched into the historical waters of Puyallup Tribal lands on Sept. 29 to a crowd that included Martinac employees, tribal leaders and veterans who all shared a moment of pride as the boat was christened and put to sea.
Martinac has a long history of working with the Puyallup Tribe, and employing local Native Americans in their well-compensated positions.
More than a dozen Native American employees helped construct the Puyallup tug.
The Puyallup will be completed dockside, and will depart to Japan in early 2012 where it will support Naval warships on duty.
Puyallup veterans, many of whom served in the Navy on the very ships the tugboat will be supporting, were in attendance at the launch.
A plaque with a brief history of the tribe will be included in the boat’s hull. And tugboat staff will wear the Puyallup Tribe’s iconic fish logo on their uniforms.
“To have our name out there not just at the local level but at the national level is just heartwarming,” Hargrove said. “It will be interesting to know if people even know how to say ‘Puyallup.’”
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