The Navy will christen and launch the dry cargo/ammunition ship USNS Matthew Perry, Sunday, Aug. 16, 2009, during a 5 p.m. PDT ceremony at the General Dynamics NASSCO shipyard in San Diego, Calif.
Continuing the Lewis and Clark-class (T-AKE) tradition of honoring legendary pioneers and explorers, the Navy’s newest underway replenishment ship recognizes Navy Commodore Matthew C. Perry (1794-1858) who led a squadron of ships to Japan in 1853 with the aim of opening that nation to trade. He served during the War of 1812 and the Mexican-American War, and was sent to suppress piracy and the slave trade in the West Indies.
Vice Adm. Richard Hunt, commander, 3rd Fleet, will deliver the ceremony’s principal address. Hester Evans, descendant of the ship’s namesake, will serve as ship’s sponsor. The ceremony will include the time-honored Navy tradition of the sponsor breaking a bottle of champagne across the bow to formally christen the ship.
Designated T-AKE 9, Matthew Perry is the ninth ship of the class, a program of up to 14 ships, the first 11 of which will serve as combat logistics force ships and the last three of which are expected to be part of the Maritime Prepositioning Force (Future). As a combat logistics force ship, Matthew Perry will help the Navy maintain a worldwide forward presence by delivering ammunition, food, fuel, and other dry cargo to U.S. and allied ships at sea.
As part of Military Sealift Command’s Naval Fleet Auxiliary Force, Matthew Perry is designated as a United States Naval Ship (USNS) and will be crewed by 124 civil service mariners and 11 Navy sailors. The ship is designed to operate independently for extended periods at sea and can carry two helicopters. The ship is 689 feet in length, has an overall beam of 106 feet, has a navigational draft of 30 feet, displaces approximately 42,000 tons, and is capable of reaching a speed of 20 knots using a single-shaft, diesel-electric propulsion system.
Media may direct queries to the Navy Office of Information at 703-697-5342.
Additional information about the T-AKE class of ship is available on line at http://www.navy.mil/navydata/fact_display.asp?cid=4400&tid=500&ct=4 .