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IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: 163-97
April 09, 1997

SECRETARY OF THE NAVY NAMES NEW ROLL ON/ROLL OFF SHIP FOR U.S. ARMY HERO

Secretary of the Navy John H. Dalton has named a strategic sealift ship after a U.S. Army Medal of Honor recipient from World War II.

The name Secretary Dalton assigned, USNS Watson (T-AKR 310), honors U.S. Army Pvt. George Watson of Birmingham, Ala., who was awarded the nation's highest military award. While serving with the 2nd Battalion, 29th Quartermaster Regiment, Pvt. Watson distinguished himself on March 8, 1943, when his ship was sunk by Japanese bombers near Porloch Harbor, New Guinea. Pvt. Watson remained in the water and helped other soldiers reach their life rafts. Exhausted by these heroic efforts, Pvt. Watson was unable to get clear of the turbulence when the ship went down.

By naming this ship after an Army Medal of Honor recipient, the Secretary of the Navy has created a lasting monument to an American hero. said Secretary of the Army Togo D. West, Jr. Pvt. Watson gave his life in the defense of our nation; now this ship will continue that legacy of service. This ship is a fitting reminder of selfless service by an extraordinary soldier, and of the history of accomplishment and mutual support shared by our two services.

The new Large Medium Speed Roll On/Roll Off (LMSR) ship is under construction at National Steel and Shipbuilding Company in San Diego, Calif. The ship will be operated by the U.S. Navy's Military Sealift Command, Washington, D.C. Watson's roll-on/ roll-off design makes it ideal for transporting helicopters, tanks, and other wheeled and tracked military vehicles. The ship will have approximately 390,000 square feet of cargo carrying space. Watson is 950 feet in length, has a beam of 105 feet and displaces approximately 62,000 tons when fully loaded. The gas- turbine powered ship will be able to sustain speeds up to 24 knots.