T-AKE Class Completed with Delivery of USNS Cesar Chavez

The USNS Cesar Chavez ready for launch at General DynamicsNASSCO in May 2012. Photo: General DynamicsNASSCO

General DynamicsNASSCO on Wednesday delivered the USNS Cesar Chavez (T-AKE 14) to the U.S. Navy, marking the completion of a highly successful U.S. shipbuilding program that has spanned more than a decade.

USNS Cesar Chavez is the fourteenth and final ship of the T-AKE class of dry cargo-ammunition ships built in San Diego by General DynamicsNASSCO for the U.S. Navy’s Military Sealift Command.

“The delivery of Chavez marks a significant milestone for MSC – we are now at full capacity with our dry-cargo and ammunition ships and stand ready to support a wide-range of Department of Defense requirements,” said Rear Adm. Mark Buzby, commander, Military Sealift Command. “The T-AKEs, and the professional mariners who operate them, are a true testament to MSC’s ability to operate forward and provide an unprecedented level of service and support to our warfighters worldwide,” he said.

NASSCO began constructing the 689-foot-long ship in October 2010, incorporating international marine technologies and commercial ship-design features, to minimize operating costs over its projected 40-year service life. With a 79.2-percent ship-over-ship learning curve, the T-AKE Program is among the most efficient shipbuilding programs in the United States.

“This is an exciting day for the American shipbuilding industry and the U.S. Navy, as T-AKE 14 joins a distinguished tradition of NASSCO-built ships supporting the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps,” said Fred Harris, president of General Dynamics NASSCO. “As demonstrated on our successful sea trials three weeks ago, the Cesar Chavez is ready for immediate service to our nation.”

T-AKE 14 is an extremely capable auxiliary ship that is equipped to fulfill a variety of U.S. Navy global combat logistics requirements. With a cargo capacity of more than 10,000 tons, the primary mission of USNS Cesar Chavez will be to deliver food, ammunition, fuel and other provisions from shore stations to combat ships at sea.

The USNS Cesar Chavez, which was christened May 5 in San Diego, honors Cesar Chavez, an American farm worker, labor leader and civil rights activist who co-founded the National Farm Workers Association, which later became the United Farm Workers. He is well known for his use of non-violent tactics that made the farm workers’ struggle a moral cause with nationwide support.┬áChavez also served in the U.S. Navy from 1944-1946.

T-AKEs are the newest class of Combat Logistics Force ships built for MSC and replace the aging, single-mission supply ships such as Kilauea-class ammunition ships and Mars- and Sirius-class combat stores ships as they reach the end of their service lives.

The lead ship of the T-AKE Class, the USNS Lewis and Clark (T-AKE 1), was delivered to MSC on June 20, 2006.