On October 18, 2001, the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) announced the award of a $406.9 million competitive contract for the detailed design and construction of the lead ship of the T-AKE Auxiliary Cargo and Ammunition Class to National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (NASSCO) of San Diego, Calif.
Major subcontractors are IMECO of Iron Mountain, Mich.; Hopeman Brothers Marine Interiors of Waynesboro, Va.; Alstom Power Conversion Inc. of Philadelphia, Pa.; B.F. Goodrich, Fairbanks Morse Engine Division of Beloit, Wis.; Point
Eight Power Inc. of Belle Chasse, La.; Lake Shore Inc. of Kingsford, Mich.;
Performance Contracting Inc. of San Diego, Calif.; John Crane-LIPS of
Scarborough, Maine; and SIPCO of Willis, Texas. Additionally, NAVSEA exercised a contract option in the amount of $301.6 million for the detailed design and construction of the first follow ship.
The T-AKE Class was designated the "Lewis and Clark" to honor the two explorers who led a visionary project that was to become one of American history's greatest adventure stories. The first ship will be Lewis and Clark (T-AKE 1) and the second ship will be Sacagawea (T-AKE 2).
The ships are designed to provide a two-product shuttle ship replacement for the aging Combat Store (AFS) and Ammunition (AE) shuttle fleet ships. The vessels will be built almost entirely to commercial ship standards, manned by Government civilian mariners, and operated by the Military Sealift Command
. The ships will have the capacity to handle ammunition and combat stores-including dry, frozen and chilled products, spare parts
and consumables. Designed to operate independently for extended periods at sea while providing replenishment services to U.S. and NATO ships, the Lewis and Clark class ships will directly contribute to the ability of the Navy to maintain a forward presence. These ships will provide logistic lift from sources of supply either in port or at sea from specially equipped merchant ships
. They will transfer this cargo (ammunition; food; limited quantities of fuel; repair parts; ship store items and expendable supplies and material) to station ships and other naval warfare forces at sea. As a secondary mission, these ships may be required to operate in concert with a T-AO class ship as a substitute station ship to provide direct logistics support to the ships within a battle group. The T-AO class ship, which carries liquid cargo, and the T-AKE class ship, which carries dry cargo, when operating together in lieu of a station ship, will provide the battle group with products equivalent to an AOE 1/6 class (fast combat support ship).
These ships will replace the current capability of the T-AE 26 class (ammunition ship), T-AFS 1/8 class (combat stores ship) and, when operating
in concert with a T-AO class ship (oiler), the AOE 1 class (fast combat support ship). To conduct vertical replenishment, the ship will support two military cargo logistics helicopters or two equivalent commercial variants and associated aviation personnel. The lead ship and first follow ship will be delivered in March 2005 and September 2005 respectively. The contract
s for up to 12 ships.