Monday, September 13, 2010

NASSCO Launches Eleventh T-AKE Ship

General Dynamics NASSCO, a wholly owned subsidiary of General Dynamics, today launched the U.S. Navy's newest supply ship, USNS Washington Chambers (T-AKE 11), during a christening ceremony at the shipyard on the city's working waterfront.

The ship is named in honor of Captain Washington Chambers (1856-1934), the innovative U.S. Navy officer who oversaw the growth of the Navy's fledgling aviation program. His visionary developments enabled the launching of airplanes from Navy ships only a few short years after man's first flight at Kitty Hawk, an advancement that made Chambers a pivotal figure in naval aviation's difficult but ultimately successful evolution from a force of relatively simple planes to today's sophisticated aircraft.

"The Washington Chambers represents the latest result of aggressive steps NASSCO is taking to adopt a culture of continuous improvement use to maximize efficiency and deliver affordable vessels to our customers. These steps are taking the form of initiatives focused on first-time quality, on-time delivery and under budget performance, thus improving the final product and increasing NASSCO's ability to compete. As a result, the Chambers will be built with 58 percent fewer man-hours than was required to build Lewis and Clark, the first ship of the class," Harris said.

More than 1,000 attendees cheered as the ship's sponsor, Mrs. Loretta Penn, christened the ship by breaking the traditional bottle of champagne against the bow before the 689-foot-long vessel slid into the waters of San Diego Bay. Penn donated a collection of 62 books for the ship's library, enhanced by the addition of Chambers's biography From Torpedoes to Aviation: Washington Irving Chambers and Technological Innovation in the New Navy: 1876 to 1913, signed by the author and presented to Mrs. Penn and the ship's crew during the launch festivities.

USNS Washington Chambers is the eleventh ship of the Lewis and Clark (T-AKE) class of dry cargo-ammunition ships for the Navy, and the first Navy ship to be named after Washington Chambers. The Navy's new class of replenishment ships has been named to honor legendary pioneers and explorers. NASSCO began constructing the Washington Chambers in March 19, 2009 and is scheduled to deliver it to the Navy's Military Sealift Command in the first quarter of 2011. When the Washington Chambers joins the fleet, its primary mission will be to deliver nearly 10,000 tons of food, ammunition, fuel and other provisions to combat ships at sea.

General Dynamics NASSCO employs more than 3,700 people and is the only major ship construction yard on the West Coast of the United States. NASSCO has delivered ten T-AKE ships to the Navy and is under contract to build four additional T-AKE ships, including the Washington Chambers, for a total class of 14 vessels.

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