The Navy will christen and launch the dry cargo/ammunition ship USNS Charles Drew, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2010, during a 7 a.m. PST ceremony at the General Dynamics NASSCO shipyard in San Diego.
Surgeon General Vice Adm. Regina Benjamin, U.S. Public Health Service, will deliver the ceremony’s principal address. Bebe Drew Price, the eldest daughter 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.
Continuing the Lewis and Clark-class (T-AKE) tradition of honoring legendary pioneers and explorers, the Navy’s newest underway replenishment ship recognizes Dr. Charles R. Drew (1904-1950), a physician and medical researcher whose ground-breaking work led to the discovery that blood could be separated into plasma. The model for blood and plasma storage developed by Drew has saved untold lives and is the same process used today by the Red Cross. In the early 1940s, he became one of the first African-American surgeons to serve as an examiner on the American Board of Surgery.
Designated T-AKE 10, Charles Drew is the tenth ship of the class, a program of 14 ships. As a combat logistics force ship, Charles Drew will help the Navy maintain a worldwide forward presence by delivering ammunition, food, fuel, and other cargo to U.S. and allied ships at sea.
T-AKE 10 is the first Navy ship named after Drew. As part of Military Sealift Command’s Naval Fleet Auxiliary Force, Charles Drew 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.