Navy launches electric-drive cargo ship

SAN DIEGO, 21 May 2005. National Steel and Shipbuilding Co. (NASSCO), a wholly owned subsidiary of General Dynamics, has joined with the U.S. Navy to launch the USNS Lewis and Clark (T-AKE 1), the lead ship in the Navy's new T-AKE Class.

May 23rd, 2005

SAN DIEGO, 21 May 2005. National Steel and Shipbuilding Co. (NASSCO), a wholly owned subsidiary of General Dynamics, has joined with the U.S. Navy to launch the USNS Lewis and Clark (T-AKE 1), the lead ship in the Navy's new T-AKE Class.

The T-AKE is a dry cargo/ammunition ship that will be operated by the Navy Military Sealift Command, providing logistic lift from sources of supply either in port or at sea. The ships will transfer cargo -- ammunition, food, fuel, repair parts, and expendable supplies and material -- to station ships and other naval forces at sea. The T-AKE will substantially upgrade the Navy's ability to maintain its forward-deployed forces, replacing aging T-AE ammunition ships and T-AFS combat stores ships that are nearing the end of their service lives.

The T-AKEs are 210 meters (689 feet) in length and 32.2 meters (105.6 feet) in beam, with a design draft of 9.12 meters (29.9 feet). The ships will carry almost 7,000 metric tons of dry cargo and ammunition and 23,500 barrels of cargo fuel. The T-AKEs will be the first modern Navy ships to combine proven international marine technologies such as an integrated electric-drive propulsion system that can achieve a speed of 20 knots and commercial design features that will minimize their cost of operation and maintenance over their expected 40-year life.

Construction on the Lewis and Clark began in September 2003 and delivery is scheduled for early next year. The second T-AKE, to be named the USNS Sacagawea, is now in full-rate production for delivery in 2006. Eight ships have been awarded to NASSCO under this program. The T-AKE contract includes options for four additional ships.

The name Lewis and Clark was selected to honor the two legendary explorers who led a visionary project from 1804 to 1806 to explore the American West. Two descendants from the families of Captain Meriwether Lewis and then-Lieutenant William Clark -- Jane Lewis Sale Henley and Lisa Clark -- served as sponsors of the ship. At precisely 8 p.m., they christened the ship by breaking bottles of champagne across its bow as it slid into San Diego Bay to the cheers of thousands of San Diego residents and NASSCO employees in attendance.

The chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, Congressman Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.), delivered the ceremony's principal address. Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-Calif.) introduced Congressman Lewis. Other featured speakers included Admiral Vernon Clark, the Navy's chief of naval operations; Rear Admiral Charles Hamilton II, program executive officer for ships; and Richard Vortmann, president of NASSCO.

General Dynamics, headquartered in Falls Church, Va., employs approximately 70,100 people worldwide and had 2004 revenue of $19.2 billion. The company is a market leader in mission-critical information systems and technologies; land and expeditionary combat systems, armaments and munitions; shipbuilding and marine systems; and business aviation. For more information, see www.generaldynamics.com.

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