Northrop Grumman Corporation's Ship Systems sector delivered USNS Benavidez (T-AKR 306) to
the U.S. Navy on September 10, 2003, successfully completing nearly a
decade of construction of the Bob Hope-class ships.
Benavidez is the final ship of seven of these LMSR (large, medium-speed, roll-on, roll-off) vessels built by Ship Systems' Avondale Operations in New Orleans, La. The ship conducted successful sea trials this summer and recorded an excellent rating by the Navy.
"I must congratulate Northrop Grumman Ship Systems, Avondale
Operations on the monumental leap in quality in the construction of
this ship," said Capt. John Exell, USN, supervisor of shipbuilding,
conversion and repair, New Orleans, at the delivery signing ceremony
aboard the vessel. "The progress on this ship is a result of the
company's introduction and implementation of lean manufacturing
techniques practiced by its craftspeople, team leaders, and area
managers, along with my SUPSHIP staff. This ship is a fine example of
delivering first-time quality. I am extremely pleased with your
efforts and proud to accept this ship for the Navy and specifically the
Military Sealift Command whose crews will operate it."
The 950-foot-long ships in the Bob Hope-class are among the
largest in the Navy's fleet, and are designed and constructed with more
than 380,000 square feet of cargo capacity on six decks. They are
capable of carrying up to 1,000 military wheeled and/or tracked
vehicles and other cargo.
"We are proud to have built seven great ships
in the class, and
are particularly pleased with the first six ships' impressive service
in our nation's war on terrorism," said George Yount, vice president of
operations at Avondale. "We are confident Benavidez will continue the
legacy of constant support as she begins her commissioned service.
Delivery of Benavidez is the culmination of years of dedicated effort
by thousands of our hard-working Avondale men and women, and I
congratulate all of them for a job well done."
Construction of the vessel began June 7, 1999 and its keel was
laid on December 15, 1999. The ship was christened Benavidez July 21,
2001 in honor of Medal of Honor recipient Army Master Sergeant Roy P.
Benavidez, of Lindenau, Texas. In 1968, Sgt. Benavidez distinguished
himself in a series of daring and extremely valorous actions while
serving in Vietnam as part of the First Special Forces, U. S. Army.
Retired Master Sergeant Benavidez was 63 when he died Nov. 29, 1998 in
San Antonio, Texas.