The official party pose for a photograph at the commissioning ceremony in San Diego for the future USNS John Lewis (T-AO 205), the Navy’s first John Lewis-class replenishment oiler, July 17, 2021. U.S. Navy Photo

NASSCO Christens First John Lewis-Class Fleet Oiler

Mike Schuler
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July 21, 2021

General Dynamics NASSCO has christened the future USNS John Lewis (T-AO 205), the first ship for the U.S. Navy’s John Lewis-class fleet oiler program.

A christening ceremony for the vessel was held over the weekend and attended by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), serving as the principal speak, along with representatives from NASSCO and the U.S. Navy. The ship’s sponsor, Alfre Woodard Spencer, christened the ship with the traditional champagne bottle break alongside the hull.

“The christening ceremony today takes on a very special meaning, for it marks the one-year anniversary, to the day, of John Lewis’ passing.” said Dave Carver, president of General Dynamics NASSCO. “Just as its namesake, this majestic vessel will be instrumental in shaping the future of our Nation. The shipbuilders of NASSCO are proud to ensure Congressman John Lewis’ legacy will live on in this ship.”

The Navy awarded General Dynamics NASSCO with a contract in 2016 for the detailed design and construction of the next generation of fleet oilers, previously known as the TAO(X). The contract calls for the design and construction of six 742-foot-long oilers with a full load displacement of 49,850 tons.

Designed to transfer fuel to U.S. Navy carrier strike group ships operating at sea, the oilers have the capacity to carry 157,000 barrels of oil, significant dry cargo capacity, aviation capability and are capable of speeds up to 20 knots.

John Lewis will be operated by Military Sealift Command and crewed by mostly civilian mariners. It is the first ship named after the late civil rights leader and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient, U.S. Representative John Lewis. All six planned T-AO 205s will named after civil rights leaders.

“As House Speaker, I am deeply honored to lead this Congressional delegation of many friends of our beloved late Congressman John Lewis to honor his beautiful and saintly life,” said Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “John Lewis was a warrior for freedom and, as a titan of the civil rights movement, his courage and goodness helped transformed our nation. In the halls of the Capitol, he was fearless in his pursuit of a more perfect union, whether fighting to defend voting rights, end anti-LGBTQ discrimination or respect the dignity and worth of every person.”

In addition to the John Lewis, three ships in the T-AO class fleet oiler program for the U.S. Navy – the future USNS Harvey Milk (T-AO 206), the future USNS Earl Warren (T-AO 207), and the future USNS Robert F. Kennedy (T-AO 208) – are all currently under construction at NASSCO. The second ship, the future USNS Harvey Milk (T-AO 206) is scheduled to launch later this year.

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