future USNS John Lewis (T-AO 205)
The future USNS John Lewis (T-AO 205) after its launch at General Dynamics NASSCO in San Diego on Jan. 12, 2021. Photo courtesy NASSCO

General Dynamics NASSCO announced the launch of the first of six vessels in the John Lewis-class fleet oiler program designed to support the U.S. Navy.

Construction of the future USNS John Lewis (T-AO 205) began in the fall of 2018 and utilized more than 18,575 tons of steel to complete.

The 742-foot-long vessel will transfer 157,000 barrels of fuel to Navy warships at sea plus large amounts of dry cargo.

Civil rights icon John Lewis welded his initials into the keel plate of the ship named in his honor during a traditional ceremony at the shipyard on May 13, 2019. The congressman passed away last year following a six-month battle with cancer.

“NASSCO is immensely honored to be a part of this historic day launching the future John Lewis,” said Dave Carver, president of General Dynamics NASSCO. “This ship reaffirms our nation’s stability and represents the same strength, values, and honor that her namesake, the Honorable John Lewis, stood for. The shipbuilders of NASSCO are proud to ensure his legacy will live on in this majestic vessel.”

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). All six vessels will be named for Americans who have been instrumental in the civil rights struggle.

Adding to the momentum of the fleet’s success, NASSCO started construction on the future USNS Earl Warren (T-AO 207), the third vessel in the program, late last year.

The christening of the future USNS John Lewis (T-AO 205) will be celebrated later in 2021 with the ship’s sponsor following tradition of breaking a champagne bottle on the ship’s hull.

NASSCO is the largest shipyard on the West Coast conducting design, new construction, and repair of ships.

— Staff reports