NASSCO Starts Construction of U.S. Navy’s Second John Lewis-Class Fleet Oiler, Future USNS Harvey Milk

General Dynamics NASSCO, a wholly-owned subsidiary of General Dynamics (GD), began construction of the U.S. Navy’s second John Lewis-class fleet oiler, the future USNS Harvey Milk (T-AO-206), on Dec. 13.

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 vessel. The start of construction is the first major milestone in a shipbuilding program and represents that the first 100 tons of steel for the ship have been cut.

“This ship will have significant contributions as part of our Combat Logistics Force, serving as the primary fuel pipeline from resupply ports to ships at sea,” said Mike Kosar, Support Ships, Boats and Craft program manager, Program Executive Office, Ships. “Today’s ceremony marks an important milestone as our Navy works to recapitalize our aging fleet replenishment capabilities, ensuring our warfighters have the resources they need to keep them combat ready for years to come.”

The ship’s namesake Harvey Milk is a gay rights activist who served in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War aboard the submarine rescue ship USS Kittiwake and held the rank of Lieutenant (junior grade) at the time of his honorable discharge. The ship was officially named at a ceremony in San Francisco on August 16, 2016, and is the first U.S. Navy ship named for an openly gay leader.

John Lewis-class is the U.S. Navy’s newest class of underway replenishment oilers being built by General Dynamics NASSCO shipyard. The vessels of the class are named after prominent civil rights activists and leaders.

The ships are based on commercial design standards and will recapitalize the current T-AO 187 Henry J. Kaiser-class fleet replenishment oilers. These ships are part of the Navy’s Combat Logistics Force and will be operated by the Navy’s Military Sealift Command (MSC).

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 (CIWS) such as SeaRAMs, and an Anti-Torpedo Torpedo Defense System (ATTDS).

The construction of the first vessel of the class, the future USNS John Lewis (T-AO 205), was started on Sept. 20, 2018, and the keel of the vessel was laid on May 13 this year. The delivery of the ship is planned in late 2020.

GD NASSCO is also contracted for ships T-AO 207 – 210 as well as the Expeditionary Sea Base platforms (ESB 6-8).

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