The US Navy has announced it has renamed a warship to honour Robert Smalls, a "skilled sailor and statesman born into slavery in South Carolina".
Formerly named USS Chancellorsville (CG 62), after a Confederate victory in the Civil War, the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser will be renamed USS Robert Smalls (CG 62).
The US Navy announced the renaming as their mandated naming commission outlined military assets across all branches of service that required renaming due to Confederate ties.
Last year, it was recommended that the US Navy rename two ships as part of Pentagon-wide plans to remove Confederate names from places of honour across its armed forces.
In September 2022, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin accepted all recommendations from the naming commission and gave each service until the end of 2023 to rename their assets.
Secretary of the US Navy Carlos Del Toro said in the announcement that he is "proud to rename CG 62 after Robert Smalls".
He added: "He was an extraordinary American and I had the pleasure of learning more about him last year when I visited his home in South Carolina."
"Robert Smalls is a man who deserves a namesake ship and, with this renaming, his story will continue to be retold and highlighted," US Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro said in his statement.
Mr Smalls (1839-1915) was born into slavery in South Carolina.
He became a skilled sailor and was an expert navigator of southern coasts and was then conscripted in 1862 to serve as the pilot of the Confederate steamer Planter at Charleston.
On 13 May 1862, Mr Smalls managed to escape the heavily fortified Charleston harbour with his family, other enslaved people, and valuable military cargo on board and successfully surrendered the Planter to the US Navy.
He continued as the pilot of the ship before ultimately becoming captain.
The US Navy described Mr Smalls as "an ardent advocate for African Americans" – he led one of the first boycotts of segregated public transportation in 1864.
It was a movement that led to the city of Philadelphia integrating streetcars in 1867.
After the Civil War, Mr Smalls was appointed a brigadier general of the South Carolina militia and, from 1868 to 1874, he served in the South Carolina legislature. In 1874, he was elected to the US House of Representatives and served for five terms, advocating for greater integration.
After his time in Congress, Smalls was twice appointed collector of the Port of Beaufort, South Carolina. He died at Beaufort in 1915.
US Navy Secretary Mr Del Toro added that "the renaming of these assets is not about rewriting history, but to remove the focus on the parts of our history that doesn't align with the tenets of this country, and instead allows us to highlight the events and people in history who may have been overlooked".
The USS Robert Smalls is currently deployed to Yokosuka, Japan, and is assigned to Carrier Strike Group 5.
According to the US Navy, the "logistical aspects associated with renaming the ship will begin henceforth and will continue until completion with minimal impact on operations and the crew".