Secretary of the Navy Dr. Donald C. Winter announced the naming of the seventh and eighth Lewis and Clark-class dry cargo/ammunition ships (T-AKE) as Carl Brashear and Wally Schirra. The T-AKEs are owned and operated by the U.S. Navy's Military Sealift Command.
The selection of Carl Brashear, designated T-AKE 7, honors Master Chief Boatswain's Mate (Master Diver) Carl M. Brashear, who joined the U.S. Navy in 1948. He was a pioneer in the Navy as the first black deep-sea diver, the first black master diver and the first U.S. Navy diver to be restored to full active duty as an amputee, the result of a leg injury he sustained during a salvage operation.
After 31 years of service, Brashear officially retired from the U.S. Navy on April 1, 1979. Brashear was the subject of the 2000 movie "Men of Honor" starring Cuba Gooding Jr.
The selection of Wally Schirra, designated T-AKE 8, was chosen in honor of Capt. Walter "Wally" Schirra. Schirra was a U.S. Naval Academy graduate and former Navy test pilot who served in both World War II and Korean War.
Schirra is honored as one of the original seven Mercury astronauts. He holds the distinction of being the only astronaut to fly in each of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs. Schirra officially retired from the U.S. Navy and NASA in 1969. Schirra and the other original Mercury 7 astronauts are the subject of the 1983 movie "The Right Stuff".
The naming of Carl Brashear and Wally Schirra continues the tradition of the T-AKE Lewis and Clark-class of honoring legendary pioneers and explorers.
The T-AKEs are 689 feet in length, have an overall beam of 106 feet, a navigational draft of 30 feet and displace approximately 42,000 tons. Powered by single-shaft diesel-electric propulsion systems
, the T-AKEs can reach a speed of 20 knots. As part of MSC's Naval Fleet Auxiliary Force, the T-AKEs are designated USNS. The term stands for United States Naval Ship. Unlike their United States Ship (USS) counterparts. The T-AKEs are crewed by 124 civil service mariners working for MSC as well as an 11-person Navy detachment that provides supply coordination.