General Dynamics NASSCO, a wholly owned subsidiary of General Dynamics (GD), began construction of the first ship for the U.S. Navy’s John Lewis-class fleet oiler program, the future USNS John Lewis (T-AO 205), on Sept. 20, 2018.
Representatives from NASSCO and the U.S. Navy gathered in San Diego for a ceremony to cut the first piece of steel, signifying the start of construction for the first of six vessels for the U.S. Navy. Construction of the first ship is scheduled to be complete in November 2020.
“These oilers are critical to the Navy’s ability to operate around the world,” said Kevin Graney, President of General Dynamics NASSCO. We are honored to build the lead ship of this class and have worked with our Navy and industry partners to ensure the design, planning, material and facility are ready to begin construction.”
Before proceeding with the start of construction, the Navy conducted a Production Readiness Review (PRR) in order to verify the effectiveness and efficiency of the design and production planning within the program. Among other indicators, the program reported detail design and 3D modeling of the entire ships to be 95 percent complete. The results of the PRR were certified by the secretary of the Navy and submitted to Congress on Sept. 6, 2018.
In developing the T-AO 205 design, the Navy worked closely with industry partners to conduct trade off studies that matured the government-developed ship specifications. The results of the trade-off studies were then combined into integrated ship designs. GD-NASSCO was later competitively awarded a Fixed Price Incentive block buy contract for the detail design and construction of six T-AO 205 class fleet replenishment oilers.
Designed to transfer fuel to U.S. Navy carrier strike group ships operating at sea, the oilers will feature the capacity to carry 157,000 barrels of oil, a significant dry cargo capacity, aviation capability and a speed of 20 knots.
The John Lewis class will be equipped with a basic self-defense capability, including crew served weapons, degaussing, and Nixie Torpedo decoys, and has space, weight, and power reservations for Close In Weapon Systems such as SeaRAMs, and an Anti-Torpedo Torpedo Defense System.
These ships are part of the Navy’s Combat Logistics Force and will become the backbone of the fuel delivery system. They will be operated by the Military Sealift Command (MSC).
In July 2016, US Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus advised Congress that he intended to name the Military Sealift Command’s John Lewis-class oilers after prominent civil rights activists and leaders. USNS John Lewis is named for United States Representative and civil rights leader John Lewis.
NASSCO is the largest shipyard on the West Coast of the United States conducting design, new construction and repair of ships. In the past decade, NASSCO delivered more than 30 ocean-going ships to government and commercial customers—including the world’s first LNG-powered containerships and several other lead ships.