General Dynamics NASSCO, a wholly owned subsidiary of General Dynamics (NYSE: GD), on Saturday christened the U.S. Navy's newest supply ship, USNS Medgar Evers (T-AKE 13). Named in honor of the African American civil rights leader from Mississippi, the USNS Medgar Evers is the 13th ship of a class of 14 dry cargo/ammunition ships designed and built by NASSCO.
More than 1,000 people attended the Saturday morning christening ceremony for the USNS Medgar Evers at NASSCO's San Diego shipyard. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus was the ceremony's principal speaker. Myrlie Evers, the widow of the late Medgar Evers, served as the ship's sponsor. She christened the ship by breaking the traditional bottle of champagne against the hull of the 689-foot-long vessel.
As the first field secretary of the NAACP in Mississippi, Medgar Evers (July 2, 1925 – June 12, 1963) created and organized voter-registration efforts, peaceful demonstrations and economic boycotts to draw attention to the unjust practices of companies that practiced discrimination. Evers became one of the most visible civil rights leaders in the state of Mississippi, working closely with church leaders and other civil rights advocates to promote understanding and equality. His life's work helped increase support for the legislation that would become the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
"Each ship in the T-AKE Class is named for a noted pioneer in our nation's history. Mr. Evers was an Army veteran of World War II and an important civil rights pioneer. The NASSCO team is proud to add Medgar Evers' name to this distinguished list," said Fred Harris, president of NASSCO.
USNS Medgar Evers is the 13th ship of the Lewis and Clark (T-AKE) Class of dry cargo ammunition ships General Dynamics NASSCO is building for the U.S. Navy. NASSCO began constructing USNS Medgar Evers in April 2010. Following its at-sea testing phase, the ship will be delivered to the Navy in the second quarter of 2012. USNS Medgar Evers will mark the 13th T-AKE ship that NASSCO has delivered to the Navy since 2006.
NASSCO has reduced the labor hours required to build the USNS Medgar Evers by 67 percent, compared to the first ship of the class. This dramatic reduction in cost has been gleaned from NASSCO's culture of continuous improvement over the course of this stable, long-term shipbuilding program. NASSCO has accomplished this efficient serial production by conducting more than 1.5 million hours of trades training since 2006, equipping each tradesperson with the knowledge and tools required to build T-AKE ships to unparalleled quality standards.
When in active service, USNS Medgar Evers will join a tradition of NASSCO-built or modified ships directly supporting the United States Marine Corps. The primary mission of USNS Medgar Evers will be to deliver more than 10,000 tons of food, ammunition, fuel and other provisions at one time to combat ships on the move at sea. T-AKE ships have also served in Navy humanitarian efforts around the globe.