Military Sealift Command’s (MSC) Lewis and Clark-class dry cargo ship USNS Charles Drew (T-AKE 10) conducted maintenance at Larsen & Toubro Ltd, commonly known as L&T shipyard, in Kattupalli near Chennai, India, Aug. 7-17. Both Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed their intent to conduct maintenance in India during the U.S.-India 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue in April. Routine maintenance conducted aboard Charles Drew in India included repairs to safety and crew habitability systems and equipment. Charles Drew is one of the many ships that are part of the U.S. Navy’s MSC’s Combat Logistics Force (CLF). CLF are the supply lines to U.S. Navy ships while at sea.
“Today marks another step forward in Indian and American maritime cooperation. Our shipping industries positively contribute to a free and open Indo-Pacific by partnering to deliver effective, efficient, and economical repair of military vessels,” Defense Attaché at the U.S. Embassy at New Delhi Rear Adm. Michael Baker.
“This inaugural repair of a United States naval ship, the Charles Drew, conducted by the L&T Kattupalli shipyard, is a landmark development to be celebrated as a symbol of our strengthened U.S.-India partnership,” said Judith Ravin, U.S. Consul General in Chennai.
“India’s initiative to offer logistics, repairs, and refits to the U.S. ships assumes special significance in furthering the strategic partnership between India and the United States, thereby promoting harmony in South Asia under the Indo-Pacific initiative,” said Dr. Ajay Kumar, Defence Secretary of India.
The Lewis and Clark class of dry cargo ship is a class of 14 underway replenishment vessels operated by the United States Navy’s Military Sealift Command. The ships in the class are named after famous American explorers and pioneers. USNS Charles Drew (T-AKE-10) is a Lewis and Clark-class dry cargo ship of the United States Navy, named in honor of Dr. Charles R. Drew (1904–1950), who developed improved techniques for blood storage, and applied his expert knowledge in developing large-scale blood banks early in World War II, saving thousands of Allied lives. The contract to build Charles Drew was awarded to National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (NASSCO) of San Diego, California, on 31 January 2008. Charles Drew was delivered to Military Sealift Command on 14 July 2010 and began conducting missions for MSC in spring 2011 and will operate in the Pacific.
These ships provide virtually everything Navy ships need including fuel, food, fleet ordnance, dry cargo, spare parts, mail, and other supplies.CLF ships enable the Navy fleet to remain at sea and combat ready for extended periods of time. In addition to U.S. Navy ships, CLF ships also resupply international partners and allies operating in the Indo-Pacific Region. MSC Far East ensures approximately 50 ships in the Indo-Pacific Region are manned, trained, and equipped to deliver essential supplies, fuel, cargo, and equipment to warfighters, both at sea and on shore. Under Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, 7th Fleet is the U.S. Navy’s largest forward-deployed numbered fleet and routinely interacts and operates with 35 maritime nations in preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific Region.