USNS Carl Brashear, which will be the newest ship in the U.S. Navy's Lewis and Clark-class of dry cargo/ammunition ships, was christened and launched during a morning ceremony Sept. 18 at the General Dynamics NASSCO shipyard in . After a series of tests and sea trials, the ship will be delivered to the Navy’s Military Sealift Command for operations next year.
The 689-ft. ship slid into the water for the first time as Lauren Brashear, granddaughter of the ship’s namesake and the ship’s sponsor, broke the traditional bottle of champagne against the ship's bow christening it USNS Carl Brashear.
The ship honors Master Chief Petty Officer Carl Brashear, who joined the U.S. Navy in 1948 and was a Navy pioneer, becoming one of the first African-Americans to graduate from the Navy Diving School and the first to qualify and serve as a master diver on active duty. After being severely injured in a diving accident, Brashear’s leg was amputated. Almost two years later, after strenuous rehabilitation and rigorous testing, he became the first person to be certified or recertified to dive as an amputee.
Included among the nearly 3,000 in attendance were Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead, Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Joe Campa and actor Robert De Niro, who starred in the movie “Men of Honor,” which depicts the life and Navy career of Brashear.
Brashear is the seventh of the Navy’s new T-AKE class of ships. These ships deliver ammunition, provisions, spare parts, potable water and petroleum products to U.S. Navy and other navy ships at sea, allowing them to stay underway and combat ready for extended periods of time. The ship is crewed by approximately 124 civil service mariners working for MSC along with 11 U.S. Navy sailors, who provide supply coordination.
Construction began on Brashear in May 2007. The ship is scheduled to be delivered to the Navy in the second quarter of 2009.
The Navy expects to build 14 TAKEs, the first 11 of which will serve as combat logistics ships. The remaining three are expected to be part of the Maritime Prepositioning Force (Future). All 14 of the ships will be owned and operated by MSC.