General Dynamics NASSCO launched the U.S. Navy's newest resupply ship, USNS Carl Brashear (T-AKE 7), during a christening ceremony. The ship is named in honor of Master Chief Petty Officer Carl Brashear, the first African-American to qualify and serve as a Master Diver in the Navy. Brashear's military career was portrayed in the 2000 movie Men of Honor.
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead and the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Joe Campa, Jr., spoke at the ceremony. Lauren Brashear, Master Chief Brashear's granddaughter, christened the ship by breaking the traditional bottle of champagne against the bow before the ship slid into San Diego Bay. More than 3,000 people attended the ceremony, including Robert De Niro, who starred in Men of Honor.
Brashear (1931-2006) enlisted in the Navy in February 1948. He was one of the first African-Americans to graduate from the Navy's diving school. While participating in a salvage mission in March 1966, his left leg was nearly severed in an accident. Faced with a serious infection and years of rehabilitation, he chose amputation. In April 1968, after completing a battery of fitness tests, Brashear became the first amputee to be restored to full diving status. In June 1970, he qualified as a Navy Master Diver. He retired from active duty in April 1979. He later served in the federal civil service for 10 years before retiring again in January 1993.
USNS Carl Brashear is the seventh ship of the T-AKE class of dry cargo-ammunition ships for the Navy. NASSCO began constructing the ship in May 2007 and is scheduled to deliver it to the Navy in the second quarter of 2009. When the Carl Brashear joins the fleet, its primary mission will be to deliver more than 10,000 tons of food, ammunition, fuel and other provisions to combat ships at sea.