The Navy will christen the lead ship of a new class of underway replenishment ships, the USNS Lewis and Clark, Saturday, May 21, 2005, during an 8 p.m. PDT launching at National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (NASSCO), San Diego, Calif.
The name Lewis and Clark will honor the two legendary explorers who jointly led the Corps of Discovery on a visionary expedition that was to become one of American history's greatest adventure stories.
Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, Rep. Jerry Lewis of California, will deliver the ceremonys principal address. Descendants from the families of Capt. Meriwether Lewis and Capt. William Clark, Jane Lewis Sale Henley and Lisa Clark, will serve as sponsors of the ship. The launching ceremony will be highlighted in the time-honored Navy tradition when the sponsors christen the ship by breaking bottles of champagne across the bow to formally name the ship Lewis and Clark.
The USNS Lewis and Clark is the lead ship in the Navys new 11-ship T-AKE Class. T-AKE is a new combat logistics force (CLF) vessel intended to replace the current capability of the T-AE 26 Kilauea-Class ammunition ships, T-AFS 1 Mars-Class combat stores ships and, when operating with T-AO 187 Henry J. Kaiser-Class oiler ships, the AOE 1 Sacramento-Class fast combat support ships.
Designed to operate independently for extended periods at sea while providing replenishment services to U.S., NATO and allied ships, the USNS Lewis and Clark will directly contribute to the ability of the Navy to maintain a worldwide forward presence. These ships will provide logistic lift from sources of supply either in port or at sea from specially equipped merchant ships. They will transfer cargo (ammunition, food, limited quantities of fuel, repair parts, ship store items, and expendable supplies and material) to ships and other naval warfare forces at sea.
As part of the Naval Fleet Auxiliary Force, the ship will be designated a USNS ship. The term stands for United States Naval Ship. Unlike their United States Ship (USS) counterparts, USNS vessels are manned primarily by civilian crews working for the U.S. Navy Military Sealift Command, Washington, D.C.
The USNS Lewis and Clark is 689 feet in length, has an overall beam of 105 feet, a navigational draft of 30 feet, and displaces approximately 41,000 tons. Powered by a single-shaft diesel-electric propulsion system, the ship can reach a speed of 20 knots.
Additional information about this class of ship is available on line at http://www.chinfo.navy.mil/navpalib/factfile/ships/ship-take.html