On 21 May, General Dynamics NASSCO started construction of the future USNS Robert F. Kennedy (T-AO 208), the fourth of six vessels for the U.S. Navy’s John Lewis-class (TAO-205) fleet oiler program.
Due to current COVID-19 restrictions, representatives from NASSCO and the U.S. Navy gathered for a hybrid virtual and in-person steel cutting ceremony.
“Today, we celebrate a time-honored tradition that marks the beginning of production for the ship and to celebrate the life and service of the ship’s namesake Robert F. Kennedy,” Dave Carver, president of General Dynamics NASSCO, said.
Designed to transfer fuel to U.S. Navy carrier strike group ships operating at sea, the 742-feet vessels have a full load displacement of 49,850 tons, with the capacity to carry 157,000 barrels of oil, a significant dry cargo capacity, aviation capability and up to a speed of 20 knots.
The US Navy wants to procure a total of 20 TAO-205s.
In January this year, the future USNS John Lewis (T-AO 205), the lead ship in the class, was launched at NASSCO.