The future USNS John Lewis (T-AO 205), the first ship in the US Navy’s John Lewis-class fleet oiler program, was christened in a ceremony in San Diego on July 17.
The 742-foot-long ship, named in honor of the late politician and civil rights leader, will join the Military Sealift Command as part of the navy’s combat logistics force.
The navy plans to buy a total of 17 tankers in the class to recapitalize the current T-AO 187-class fleet replenishment oilers. The fleet oilers provide underway replenishment of fuel to US Navy ships and jet fuel for aircraft assigned to aircraft carriers.
“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 House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who served as the principal speaker at the ceremony.
“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 US 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. The ships 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 for the US Navy – 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, the future USNS Harvey Milk (T-AO 206) is scheduled to launch later this year.
All oilers in the class will be named for civil and human rights leaders.