(SAN DIEGO) — General Dynamics NASSCO christened the future USNS John Lewis (T-AO 205), the first ship for the U.S. Navy’s John Lewis-class fleet oiler program, on Saturday in San Diego. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi served as the principal speaker at the ceremony, in addition to remarks from NASSCO and Navy representatives. Following her remarks, the ship’s sponsor, Alfre Woodard Spencer, christened the ship with the traditional champagne bottle break alongside the hull.
“The christening ceremony today takes on a very special meaning, for it marks the one-year anniversary, to the day, of John Lewis’ passing,” said Dave Carver, president of General Dynamics NASSCO. “Just as its namesake, this majestic vessel will be instrumental in shaping the future of our nation. The shipbuilders of NASSCO are proud to ensure Congressman John Lewis’ legacy will live on in this ship.”
Former Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus declared the John Lewis-class of oilers be named after leaders who fought for civil and human rights.
“As House speaker, I am deeply honored to lead this congressional delegation of many friends of our beloved late Congressman John Lewis to honor his beautiful and saintly life,” said Pelosi. “John Lewis was a warrior for freedom and, as a titan of the civil rights movement, his courage and goodness helped transformed our nation. In the halls of the Capitol, he was fearless in his pursuit of a more perfect union, whether fighting to defend voting rights, end anti-LGBTQ discrimination or respect the dignity and worth of every person.”
In 2016, General Dynamics NASSCO was awarded the contract by the Navy for the detailed design and construction of the next generation of fleet oilers, the John Lewis class (T-AO 205), previously known as the TAO(X). The contract calls for the design and construction of six 742-foot-long oilers with a full load displacement of 49,850 tons. Designed to transfer fuel to Navy carrier strike group ships operating at sea, the oilers have the capacity to carry 157,000 barrels of oil, a significant dry cargo capacity, aviation capability and a speed of up to 20 knots.
In addition to the christening of this ship, three ships in the T-AO class fleet oiler program – the future USNS Harvey Milk (T-AO 206), the future USNS Earl Warren (T-AO 207), and the future USNS Robert F. Kennedy (T-AO 208) – are currently under construction. The second ship, USNS Harvey Milk, is scheduled to launch later this year.
– General Dynamics NASSCO