The seventh and final Bob Hope-class Strategic Sealift ship
, Benavidez (T-AKR 306), built by Northrop Grumman Corporation's Ship Systems sector, is underway in the Gulf of Mexico on predelivery sea trials.
The 950-ft. cargo ship, built at Ship Systems' Avondale Operations
in New Orleans, is undergoing at-sea testing of all equipment and systems, en route to Ship Systems' Ingalls Operations in Pascagoula, Miss., for additional dockside testing
. The ship is expected to return to Avondale early next week, and to be delivered to the U.S. Navy in June.
This class of Navy ships is named for the legendary entertainer Bob Hope. All seven Bob Hope-class ships were built at Avondale Operations. The previous six ships in the class all played vital roles in Operation Iraqi Freedom, when they were used extensively in getting supplies and equipment to armed forces.
Named for Master Sgt. Roy P. Benavidez, a Medal of Honor recipient from Cuero, Texas, the vessel has a beam of 105 ft. and is designed with nearly 400,000 sq. ft. of cargo space. With seven cavernous decks, the ship functions as a huge floating parking garage capable of loading, transporting and off-loading any type of wheeled or tracked military vehicle. The ship can carry more than 1,000 of these military vehicles, including M1/A1 Abrams tanks, along with other types of cargo, such as containers, trailers, equipment, supplies and break-bulk cargo.
Despite a full-load displacement of 62,069 long tons, the ships' four medium-speed diesel engines can propel the ships at speeds in excess of 24 knots. The ships can accommodate 45 crew members, but can operate with a crew of only 27 people.