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Future US Navy's replenishment oiler USNS Robert F. Kennedy christened by NASSCO.

| 2023

According to information published by the US DoD on October 30, 2023, the US Navy introduced the USNS Robert F. Kennedy (T-AO 208) as the newest addition to the John Lewis-class fleet replenishment oilers in a ceremonious event in San Diego.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 Christening ceremony of the John Lewis class replenishment oiler USNS Robert F. Kennedy. (Picture source: NASSCO)

The John Lewis-class vessels, conceived based on commercial design standards, aim to modernize the existing T-AO 187-class fleet replenishment oilers, thereby ensuring efficient underway replenishment of fuel for the U.S. Navy and allied ships at sea. These replenishment oilers are a crucial component of the Navy's Combat Logistics Force, playing a vital role in sustaining naval operations globally.

Back in June 2016, the Navy had awarded a $3.2 billion contract to General Dynamics NASSCO for designing and constructing the initial six ships of this class. The first ship, USNS John Lewis (T-AO 205), was delivered in July 2022, while USNS Harvey Milk (T-AO 206) followed suit in July 2023.

Ships T-AO 207 through T-AO 210 are currently under construction at General Dynamics NASSCO in San Diego, with T-AO 211 through T-AO 213 under contract. The Navy envisages a total procurement of 20 ships in the John Lewis class, aiming to significantly bolster its replenishment capabilities at sea.

 About the John Lewis-class

The replenishment oiler is a vessel that has a displacement of 49,850 tons when fully loaded. Its dimensions include a length of 746 feet, a beam of 106 feet 5 inches, and a maximum draft of 33.5 feet.

The propulsion system comprises two medium-speed Fairbanks-Morse 12V48/60CR diesel engines, directing power to two shafts and propellers, allowing for a speed of 20 knots. The vessel has an endurance of 6,147 nautical miles.

The crew complement on board totals 125 personnel, tasked with various operations and maintenance roles. Within the domain of electronic warfare and decoys, the vessel is equipped with AN/SLQ-25A Nixie torpedo countermeasures to enhance its survivability in hostile environments.

The armament configuration includes multiple .50 caliber machine guns and provisions for additional defense systems such as the Phalanx close-in weapons system or SeaRAM, should they be required.

The vessel is also designed to accommodate aerial operations with a helicopter flight deck. The operational aspect is further extended with five refueling stations and two dry cargo transfer rigs, facilitating the core function of replenishment at sea.

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