GD-NASSCO begins construction of USNS Robert F. Kennedy

USNS Robert F. Kennedy
A graphic representation of the future USNS Robert F. Kennedy (T-AO 208). (U.S. Navy photo)

Construction on the USNS Robert F. Kennedy (T-AO 208) began at the General Dynamics–National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (GD-NASSCO) shipyard on May 21, U.S. Naval Sea Systems Command announced.

USNS Robert F. Kennedy (T-AO 208) will be operated by the Navy’s Military Sealift Command and is the first ship named after the Navy veteran, former U.S. Attorney General and U.S. Senator from New York.

“USNS Robert F. Kennedy will provide significant contributions to the fleet, serving as the primary fuel pipeline to refuel ships at sea. The building of the John Lewis-class ships marks an important milestone in enhancing our Navy’s fleet capabilities and providing critical support to our Sailors,” said John Lighthammer, Support Ships, Boats and Craft Acting Program Manager, Program Executive Office, Ships.

USNS Robert F. Kennedy is based on commercial design standards and will recapitalize the current T-AO 187 Class Fleet Replenishment Oilers to provide underway replenishment of fuel to U.S. Navy ships and jet fuel for aircraft assigned to aircraft carriers. These ships are part of the Navy’s Combat Logistics Force and will become the backbone of the fuel delivery system.

GD-NASSCO is also currently in production on USNS John Lewis (T-AO 205) USNS Harvey Milk (T-AO 206). USNS Lucy Stone (T-AO 209) and USNS Sojourner Truth (T-AO 210) are under contract.

As one of the Defense Department’s largest acquisition organizations, PEO Ships is responsible for executing the development and procurement of all destroyers, amphibious ships, sealift ships, support ships, boats, and craft.

usns robert f. kennedy
The lead ship of the T-AO project, USS John Lewis.

The new fleet oilers for the U.S. Navy are designed to transfer fuel to the Navy’s carrier strike groups operating at sea. The oilers feature the capacity to carry 162,000 barrels of oil, a significant dry cargo capacity, aviation capability and a speed of 20 knots. NASSCO designed the new vessels with double hulls to protect against oil spills and strengthened cargo and ballast tanks. The vessels measure 745-feet in length with a full load displacement of 49,850 tons. The class and the lead ship of the project is named in honour of Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.).

Check out Naval Library App to find out the specifications of John Lewis-class oilers.

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