USNS PILILAAU (T-AKR 304), the fifth of seven BOB HOPE Class Strategic Sealift ships being built by Northrop Grumman Corporation (NOC)
's Ship Systems sector, departed Avondale Aug. 24, 2001, after being delivered to the U.S. Navy ahead of schedule one month earlier.
PILILAAU earned an outstanding Acceptance Trial evaluation from the Navy and the Office of the Supervisor of Shipbuilding, Conversion and Repair, New Orleans, earlier this summer. "We are very pleased with the performance of PILILAAU, and with the ahead-of-schedule delivery," said Tom Kitchen, president of Ship Systems' Avondale operations. "The trials were so successful because our many skilled craftsmen produced the most complete ship yet. The New Orleans Supervisor of Shipbuilding, the Naval Sea Systems Command, and the men and women of Avondale have created a remarkable team. We are proud to once again deliver a great Avondale-built ship to the U.S. Navy."
Vice Adm. Gordon S. Holder, U.S. Navy, commander, Military Sealift Command, made note of Avondale's outstanding performance on PILILAAU. "Northrop Grumman has built several classes of ships for the Military Sealift Command like PILILAAU and each has been better than the last," he said. "This workforce has undergone many changes -- working to become more efficient and more effective -- and a lot has been accomplished."
Rear Adm. Dennis G. Morral, U.S. Navy, program executive officer, Expeditionary Warfare, toured PILILAAU prior to its delivery. "The ship looked magnificent. Our senior inspector noted that the operational performance, material condition, and fit and finish of PILILAAU were by far the best to date," said Admiral Morral. "The pride and patriotism of the Northrop Grumman team shows through loud and clear." PILILAAU and her sister ships of the class are designed to support the nation's ability to deploy military equipment and supplies quickly to U.S. troops around the world and provide prepositioning and surge sealift capacity to contingency areas worldwide.
The 950-foot-long, large, medium-speed, roll-on/roll-off ships of the BOB HOPE Class are among the largest in the Navy fleet
, longer than three football fields. The ship is designed and constructed with more than 380,000 square feet of cargo capacity and is capable of carrying up to 1,000 military wheeled or tracked vehicles and other cargo.