Navy to Christen RoRo at NASSCO

Friday, April 26, 2002
The Department of the Navy will christen USNS Soderman (T-AKR 317), its newest RoRo cargo ship, to honor a U.S. Army Medal of Honor recipient on April 26, 2002 during a 8:40 p.m. ceremony at National Steel and Shipbuilding Co. (NASSCO), San Diego, Calif.

The ship will be named to honor Army Pfc. William A. Soderman, (1912-1980), a native of West Haven, Conn. Pfc. Soderman was assigned to Company K, 9th Infantry, 2nd Infantry Division during World War II. On Dec. 17, 1944, Pfc. Soderman defended a key road junction near Rocherath, Belgium. Under severe artillery barrage, mortar and machine gun fire, he remained at his post and successfully held off German counter offenses by disabling three enemy tanks with a bazooka at point blank range before being wounded. Distinguishing himself by conspicuous gallantry and unfaltering courage against overwhelming odds, above and beyond the call of duty in action against the enemy, Pfc. Soderman was presented the Medal of Honor by President Harry S Truman during a ceremony at the White House on Oct. 12, 1945.

California Representative, Randy "Duke" Cunningham will deliver the ceremony's principal address. Mrs. Virginia Soderman, widow of the ship's namesake, is the ship's sponsor. Mrs. Kristina Carlson Fletcher, niece of the ship's namesake, will serve as Matron of Honor. The eighth in the Watson class of large, medium speed, roll-on/roll-off sealift ships, Soderman is a non-combatant vessel built by National Steel and Shipbuilding Company in San Diego, Calif. It will be crewed by civilian mariners and operated by the U.S. Navy's Military Sealift Command, Washington, D.C.

Its roll-on/roll-off design makes it ideal for transporting helicopters, tanks and other wheeled and tracked military vehicles. The ship will have approximately 390,000 square feet of cargo carrying space, and will be strategically prepositioned near areas of potential conflict around the world. Soderman is 950 feet in length, has a beam of 105.8 feet and displaces approximately 62,000 long tons. The gas turbine-powered ship will be able to sustain speeds up to 24 knots.

(Source: By NAVSEA Office of Congressional and Public Affairs)

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