US Navy Military Sealift Command USNS John Lewis Christened at General Dynamics NASSCO San Diego
US Navy Military Sealift Command USNS John Lewis Christened at General Dynamics NASSCO San Diego

US Navy Military Sealift Command USNS John Lewis Christened at General Dynamics NASSCO San Diego

General Dynamics NASSCO christened the future USNS John Lewis (T-AO 205), the first ship for the U.S. Navy’s John Lewis-class fleet oiler program. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), served as the principal speaker at the ceremony, in addition to remarks from NASSCO and U.S. Navy representatives. Following her remarks, the ship’s sponsor Alfre Woodard Spencer christened the ship with the traditional champagne bottle break alongside the hull. Former Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, declared the John Lewis-class of oilers be named after leaders who fought for civil and human rights. The class and the first ship honors Congressman and American civil rights leader John Lewis.

“As House Speaker, I am deeply honored to lead this Congressional delegation of many friends of our beloved late Congressman John Lewis to honor his beautiful and saintly life,” said Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “John Lewis was a warrior for freedom and, as a titan of the civil rights movement, his courage and goodness helped transformed our nation. In the halls of the Capitol, he was fearless in his pursuit of a more perfect union, whether fighting to defend voting rights, end anti-LGBTQ discrimination or respect the dignity and worth of every person.”

Rear Adm. Michael Wettlaufer, Commander, Military Sealift Command, speaks during the christening ceremony of the fleet replenishment oiler USNS John Lewis. Wettlaufer was one of several speakers at the event that also included House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (right) and actress and activist Alfre Woodard Spenser (left).

“The christening ceremony today takes on a very special meaning, for it marks the one-year anniversary, to the day, of John Lewis’ passing.” said Dave Carver, president of General Dynamics NASSCO. “Just as its namesake, this majestic vessel will be instrumental in shaping the future of our Nation. The shipbuilders of NASSCO are proud to ensure Congressman John Lewis’ legacy will live on in this ship.”

The event was attended by the family of the ship’s namesake as well a bipartisan congressional delegation made up of 30 members including House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, Rep Maxine Waters, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, Rep. Jackie Speier, and Rep. Nikema Williams, Lewis’ successor. Other dignitaries included James Geurts – Performing the Duties of the Under Secretary of the Navy; former Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus; Vice Adm. Ross Myers, Commander, Fleet Cyber Command and Commander, TENTH Fleet; Vice Adm. Roy Kitchener, Commander, Naval Surface Forces; Commander, Naval Surface Force U.S. Pacific Fleet; Rear Adm. Michael Wettlaufer, Commander, Military Sealift Command; and actress and social activist, Alfre Woodard Spencer, the ship’s sponsor.

In 2016, General Dynamics NASSCO was awarded the contract by the U.S. Navy for the detailed design and construction of the next generation of fleet oilers, the John Lewis-class (T-AO 205), previously known as the TAO(X). The contract calls for the design and construction of six 742-foot-long oilers with a full load displacement of 49,850 tons. Designed to transfer fuel to U.S. Navy carrier strike group ships operating at sea, the oilers have the capacity to carry 157,000 barrels of oil, a significant dry cargo capacity, aviation capability and up to a speed of 20 knots. In addition to the christening of this ship, three ships in the T-AO class fleet oiler program for the U.S. Navy – the future USNS Harvey Milk (T-AO 206), the future USNS Earl Warren (T-AO 207), and the future USNS Robert F. Kennedy (T-AO 208) – are currently under construction.

Fleet replenishment oiler USNS John Lewis (T-AO 205), the Military Sealift Command’s newest ship, was christened during a ceremony at the General Dynamics NASSCO shipyard in San Diego, Calif., today.