Civil rights leader and former Navy officer Harvey Milk (left) during a 1978 visit to Gay Pride San Jose (Wikimedia Commons / Ted Stahl)

SAN DIEGO — Construction began Friday on the future Harvey Milk, a fleet oiler named for the slain gay rights leader and the first openly gay man elected in California.

Milk was elected to the San Francisco board of supervisors in 1978 and was assassinated 10 months later by an ex-supervisor. His life was the subject of the 2008 film "Milk."

Almost 30 years before his election, Milk was a Navy dive officer based in San Diego. His nephew, Stuart Milk, attended Friday's event and said naming the ship after his uncle sends a message to people around the world.

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VIRGINIA BEACH -- When Navy Lt. Cmdr. Joseph Dunaway surfaced from a dive off a barge at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek earlier this week, Petty Officer First Class Ben Coulson logged the time by clicking a red box on a ruggedized tablet computer.

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U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jayme Pastoric

To many people, the idea of diving underwater, wriggling inside of a submarine torpedo tube no bigger than a broom closet, with nothing but a thin piece of plastic between you an ocean’s worth of water, sounds like hell. For Navy divers like Tommy McConnell, it’s the kind of hell he loves.

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U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jayme Pastoric

Welcome to Confessions Of, a weekly series where Task & Purpose’s James Clark solicits hilarious, embarrassing, and revealing stories from troops and vets about their job, billet, or a tour overseas.

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