Sullivan: Navy names ship after Alaska Native SEAL Sol Atkinson


U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan welcomed an announcement from the U.S. Navy that a future Navajo-class Towing, Salvage, and Rescue ship will be named in honor of the late Solomon “Sol” Atkinson, one of the first U.S. Navy SEALs and a legendary Alaska Native leader from the Metlakatla Indian Community on Annette Island in Southeast Alaska.

The announcement coincides with Metlakatla Founders Day, commemorating the founding of the community in 1887.

“Sol Atkinson was a legendary Alaskan and an American hero, leading an extraordinary life of honor and distinction,” said Sen. Sullivan. “Sol was one of our country’s first Navy SEALS, a leading SEAL training instructor, a veteran with three combat tours during the Vietnam War, a recipient of the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart, and a trainer of America’s greatest astronauts.”

Born in 1930 in Metlakatla and raised by his parents in a small village located along Port Chester Bay on Annette Island, Atkinson learned to hunt, fish, and live off the land.

When Atkinson was a teenager, he returned home from boarding school very summer to fish with his father.

“You would never hear Sol brag about his accomplishments and illustrious career because Sol was—as most of the greats are—a truly humble man. Sol also personified the special patriotism manifest in our Alaska Native people, who serve at higher rates in our military than any other ethnic group. I can’t think of an individual who is more deserving of this incredible honor. I look forward to seeing the USNS Solomon Atkinson and its crew out on the water, fueled by Sol’s ‘Mean Machine’ spirit in service to our great nation,” Sullivan said.

Atkinson enlisted in the Navy in 1952, deployed to Korea, and completed three combat tours in Vietnam during the war, earning numerous awards and medals, including the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart, before his retirement.

Atkinson trained 48 astronauts in underwater weightlessness simulations, including Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Jim Lovell. Following his Navy career, Atkinson returned home to Metlakatla to continue to serve his community—as Metlakatla mayor, on the school board and Indian Community Council, and as founder of Annette Island’s first veterans organization.

Surrounded by family in his home in Metlakatla, Atkinson died July 2019.

In 2017, Sen. Sullivan recognized Sol Atkinson in a speech on the floor of the Senate.

More about Sol Atkinson at this Navy link.


  1. Hallelujah some great news for a change. Sounds like a great man. I feel honored and humbled to read about him. This country is full of silent heroes people of honor and courage they are why we as a nation are great. There is no other country like ours. Let’s keep it that way.

  2. I’m very thankful that the U.S. Navy named Sol Atkinson for the new navy ship. Congratulations to him, his family the U.S. , all his friends and Alaska.

  3. Look at that strong man! Two strengths making a man strong is how hard he works and is he strengthened by God’s Word. Don’t know him or his family, judging by that image he looks like a strong man from hard work and strengthened from growing up in and around God’s Word. my heart melts. All our men today should look like him they’d look just as better looking if they had more commitment to their job and God’s Word.

    • How do you know he was a believer in Christ? I see no mention of that in this article. For all you know he could have been an atheist.

      Every comment you make on this site is filled with religious talking points. Is that the only prism you see through?

      • She has to atone for her sins of coveting with child rapists. Guilty minds can’t use God for a crutch. Doesn’t work that way.

  4. This is a great tribute. Sen Sullivan has many other extremely more important items to put his time into and I would like to see results on the other items. If he needs to kniw what they are, we need a different Senator.

    • I’m kinda curious, I see these “if you have to ask” kind of posts fairly frequently. Rarely do I see a list.

      What is the list, and what items on it are properly within the Constitutionally-enumerated powers of the US Government in general, and the US Senate in particular?

    • Grandstanding is important to reelection coming up Sally.
      Sol was one hell of a patriot. Dan is hoping some of that greatness will somehow dribble off his cuffs.

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