The Navy's dry cargo and ammunition ship Cesar Chavez will be christened and launched at a ceremony at the General Dynamics NASSCO shipyard in San Diego on Saturday evening.
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The 689-foot ship is named for the late Mexican American labor leader, who served two years in Navy -- he enlisted at age 17 -- during World War II, before his long career in picking crops and, later, labor politics. Chavez died at age 66 in 1993. His widow, Helen Fabela Chavez, will break a champagne bottle on the bow of the ship.
Navy officials and NASSCO President Fred Harris are scheduled to speak at the 7:30 p.m. christening, which is open to the public.
The Chavez is a T-AKE 14, which supplies other Navy ships at sea. It is capable of cruising at 20 knots, with a range of about 14,000 nautical miles, and can carry about 10,000 tons of cargo. The Lewis and Clark-class vessel is the 14th and the last of its kind to be built. The ship, which carries two helicopters, will be crewed by about 50 military personnel and 120 civilians.
Chavez, whose family moved from Mexico to modern-day Arizona before it was a state, co-founded the National Farm Workers Association, which later became United Farm Workers. In California, his birthday, March 31, is a state holiday. His widow and six children, along with dozens of other relatives, received a chance to tour the ship earlier.
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