DeAnne Sutton, wife of Commander George Sutton (R) of the NAVSEA Program Office,
completed the first cut and signed off on the first steel piece for the second T-AKE ship, to be named the Sacagawea. The Navy has awarded NASSCO contracts for six of a potential 12-ship fleet of new dry cargo
National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (NASSCO), a wholly owned subsidiary of
General Dynamics, has begun construction on the second ship in the T-AKE program, a new class of combat logistics force ships designated the Lewis and Clark class. Mrs. DeAnne Sutton, wife of U.S. Navy Commander George Sutton of the NAVSEA Program Office, made the first cut on the ship's first steel plate
to signify the start of construction. The U.S. Navy has awarded NASSCO contracts for six new dry cargo/ammunition ships for a total contract value of $1.87 billion. The T-AKE contract includes options for an additional six ships, eventually creating a 12-ship fleet of new combat logistics force ships. If all the options are exercised, the 12-ship program would have a total value of $3.7 billion and become the largest contract in NASSCO's history. The contracts will provide sustained employment for 1,500 to 1,800 NASSCO employees and contribute
millions of dollars per year in payroll, tax revenues and purchases from local suppliers during the life of the contract, which could run through 2010. The first T-AKE, which has been under construction at NASSCO for a year, will be named the Lewis and Clark.
This ship, the second T-AKE, is to be named the Sacagawea in honor of the Shoshone Indian woman who acted as guide and interpreter for Lewis and Clark on their expedition into the Northwest region of the United States from 1804-1806.
"The T-AKE is the first new combat
logistics force ship designed for the Navy in almost 20 years," said Richard Vortmann, president of NASSCO. "It is the first to combine lower-cost commercial ship design features with high-performance, proven international marine technologies such as integrated electric-drive propulsion."
The T-AKEs will be 210 m (689 ft.) in length and 32.2 meters (105.6 ft.) in beam, with a design draft of 9.12 m (29.9 ft.). The ships will carry almost 7,000 metric tons of dry cargo and ammunition and 23,500 barrels of marine diesel fuel. The T-AKEs have
been designed to maximize cargo-handling efficiency and minimize the costs of operation and maintenance over their expected 40-year life.
In addition to the six T-AKEs, NASSCO is building four double-hull oil tankers for BP Shipping Company of Alaska, the first of which was delivered in August. "Our nine-ship backlog affirms NASSCO's position as the leading U.S. builder of commercial ships and the U.S. Navy's 'Center of Excellence' for the construction of auxiliary and support ships," Vortmann added.