The Navy will launch and christen dry cargo/ammunition ship the USNS Carl Brashear at a 10 a.m. PDT ceremony on Sept. 18, 2008. The christening ceremony for the newest ship in the Lewis and Clark (T-AKE) class of underway replenishment ships will be held at the General Dynamics NASSCO shipyard in San Diego, Calif.
Designated as T-AKE 7, the new ship honors Master Chief Boatswain’s Mate (Master Diver) Carl M. Brashear (1931-2006), who joined the U.S. Navy in 1948. He was a pioneer in the Navy as one of the first African-Americans to graduate from the Navy Diving School and was designated a Navy salvage diver. He was the first African-American to qualify and serve as a master diver while on active duty and the first U.S. Navy diver to be restored to full active duty as an amputee, the result of a leg injury he sustained during a salvage operation. After 31 years of service, Brashear officially retired from the U.S. Navy on April 1, 1979. Brashear was the subject of the 2000 movie "Men of Honor" starring Cuba Gooding Jr.
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead will speak at the christening ceremony and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Joe R. Campa Jr. will deliver the ceremony’s principal address. Serving as ship’s sponsor, Lauren Brashear will christen the ship in honor of her grandfather. The launching ceremony will include the time-honored Navy tradition when the sponsor breaks a bottle of champagne across the bow to formally christen the ship “USNS Carl Brashear.”
USNS Carl Brashear is the seventh ship of the Navy’s T-AKE 1 class. The T-AKE program calls for 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, USNS Carl Brashear will directly contribute to the ability of the Navy to maintain a worldwide forward presence by delivering ammunition, food, fuel, and other dry cargo to U.S. and allied ships at sea. The ship is designed to operate independently for extended periods at sea and can carry and support two helicopters to conduct vertical replenishment.
As part of Military Sealift Command’s (MSC) Naval Fleet Auxiliary Force, the USNS Carl Brashear is designated as a United States Naval Ship (USNS) and will be crewed by 124 civil service mariners working for MSC. The ship will also have a military detachment of 11 U.S. Navy Sailors to provide supply coordination and, when needed, can carry a helicopter detachment of up to 36.