San Diego February 27, 2010 - The Lewis and Clark-class of dry cargo/ammunition ships - the Navy's newest class of logistics ships, also called T-AKEs – continued to grow last week with the launch of the 10th ship in the class and the delivery of the ninth to the U.S. Navy's Military Sealift Command.
USNS Charles Drew (T-AKE 10)was christened and launched during an early morning ceremony Feb. 27, at the General Dynamics NASSCO shipyard in San Diego. Ship's sponsor Bebe Drew Price, daughter of the ship's namesake, broke the traditional bottle of champagne across the bow.
USNS Charles Drew honors Dr. Charles Drew, an American physician, regarded as the father of the blood bank, who researched and developed methods of blood collection, plasma processing and storage. Drew's research in blood storage first benefited Soldiers in the field during World War II, but has continued to save the lives millions of people worldwide. His blood bank design is still the model for modern hospitals and organizations such as the American Red Cross.
On Feb. 24, Military Sealift Command, which owns and operates the ships, accepted delivery of USNS Matthew Perry (T-AKE 9). Perry was launched and christened at NASSCO's shipyard Aug. 16, 2009, and underwent a series of tests and trials prior to delivery.
"The T-AKEs are an incredibly important asset to the Navy and we are proud to see the class continue to grow," said Capt. Jerome Hamel, commander of Sealift Logistics Command Pacific – MSC's San Diego office. "Not only do the T-AKEs support Navy warfighters by delivering stores, ammunition, fuel and spare parts, but the ships are also capable of fulfilling non-traditional missions such as the 2009 Pacific Partnership humanitarian assistance mission of USNS Richard E. Byrd."
Perry is expected to conduct missions for MSC in the fall of this year and will operate in the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean. Drew is scheduled for delivery to the MSC fleet later this year.
T-AKEs allow Navy ships to stay at sea, on station and combat ready, for extended periods of time. The ships are crewed by approximately 124 civil service mariners and 11 U.S. Navy Sailors, who provide supply coordination.