The purported decision by the U.S. Navy to name one of its cargo vessels for late labor leader and civil rights activist Cesar Chavez has spurred different reactions from lawmakers, The Military Times reported.

Rep. Duncan Hunter, a California Republican, criticized the decision and said he had received notification from the Navy that the service intended to name the final vessel in the Lewis-and-Clark class after the founder of the United Farm Workers.

"This decision shows the direction the Navy is heading. Naming a ship after Cesar Chavez goes right along with other recent decisions by the Navy that appear to be more about making a political statement than upholding the Navy's history and tradition," the congressman said in a statement.

Another California lawmaker, Sen. Barbara Boxer, said however that she already had called Navy Secretary Ray Mabus to congratulate him on the decision.

Boxer, a Democrat, said that Mabus had continued "the Navy's rich tradition of naming these supply ships after pioneers, explorers and visionaries by honoring Cesar Chavez, who worked tirelessly to promote fair working conditions and equal rights for all Americans."

Hunter suggested that the ship should have been named for late Marine Sgt. Rafael Peralta, awarded the Navy Cross for his actions in Fallujah, Iraq, in 2004.

The sergeant died after leaping on a grenade to protect the lives of his comrades.

"Peralta is one of many Hispanic war heroes - some of whom are worthy of the same recognition," said Hunter, a Marine Corps veteran.

Chavez (1927-1993), an Arizona native, achieved prominence in California's Central Valley, where he organized rural farm workers and founded the UFW.

The union leader served in the Navy from 1944-1946.