The Military Sealift Command expeditionary mobile base USNS Lewis B. Puller (T-ESB 3) departs Naval Station Norfolk to begin its first operational deployment, July 10, 2017. U.S. Navy Photo

NASSCO to Build Another Sea Base and More Oilers for the U.S. Navy

Mike Schuler
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August 9, 2022

General Dynamics NASSCO has been awarded $1.4 billion contract modifications for the construction of a sixth Expeditionary Sea Base ship (ESB 8) and two additional John Lewis-class fleet oilers (T-AO 211 and 212) for the U.S. Navy.

The award comes in addition to $600 million already received to procure long-lead time materials for the same ships. The contract modification also provides an option for the Navy to procure an additional oiler, T-AO 213, bringing the total potential value to $2.7 billion for the four ships.

Construction of the four ships is scheduled to begin in the third quarter of 2023 and continue into 2027.

“NASSCO is committed to working together with the Navy to deliver these much needed ships to the fleet,” said Dave Carver, President of General Dynamics NASSCO. “As partners with the Navy, we remain dedicated to ensuring the success of both of these programs to help enhance and expand the Navy’s forward presence and warfighting capabilities while providing sustained growth for our workforce.”

Expeditionary Sea Base

In 2011, the Navy awarded NASSCO with a contract to design and build the first two ships in the newly created Mobile Landing Platform program, USNS Montford Point and USNS John Glenn. The program evolved from there, adding USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB 3), USS Hershel “Woody” Williams (ESB 4), USS Miguel Keith (ESB 5), the future USS John L. Canley (ESB 6) and the future USS Robert E. Simanek (ESB 7), configured as ESBs.

ESB ships are designed to support multiple maritime-based missions, including Air Mine Counter Measures, Special Operations Forces, and limited crisis response. Acting as a mobile sea base, the 784-foot ships have a 52,000 square-foot flight deck to support MH-53, MH-60, MV-22 tilt-rotor, and H1 aircraft operations.

The future USS John L. Canley (ESB 6) and USS Robert E. Simanek (ESB 7) are currently under construction.

John Lewis-class Oilers

The Navy awarded NASSCO with a contract to design and build the first six ships in the next generation of fleet oilers, the John Lewis-class, in 2016. The 742-feet vessels are designed to transfer fuel to U.S. Navy ships operating at sea, and have a full load displacement of 49,850 tons, capacity to carry 157,000 barrels of oil and significant amounts of dry cargo, as well as providing aviation capability while traveling at speeds up to 20 knots.

The first ship, USNS John Lewis (T-AO 205), was recently delivered to the U.S. Navy in July 2022. The USNS Harvey Milk (T-AO 206), USNS Earl Warren (T-AO 207), and USNS Robert F. Kennedy (T-AO 208) are currently under construction. All six ships will be named after civil rights leaders.

Both classes of ships are operated by the U.S. Navy’s Military Sealift Command.

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