US Navy’s 1st John Lewis-class oiler completes builder’s trials

USNS John Lewis (T-AO 205), the US Navy’s lead ship of its new class of fleet replenishment oilers, has completed initial builder’s trials and returned to port.

As explained, the builder’s trials consist of a series of in-port and at-sea demonstrations that allow the navy and the shipbuilder, General Dynamics National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (NASSCO), to assess the ship’s systems and readiness prior to acceptance trials and delivery to the navy.

Photo by: General Dynamics NASSCO

“Ensuring readiness through sea trials is a crucial step to bringing this ship closer to fleet tasking,” said John Lighthammer, program manager, Auxiliary and Special Mission Shipbuilding Program Office.

“USNS John Lewis will provide much needed capability to the fleet as the primary fuel pipeline at sea. We are looking forward to getting the ship into the hands of Sailors and merchant mariners as another tool to support at-sea operations.”

The new John Lewis-class ships will be operated by Military Sealift Command to provide diesel fuel and lubricating oil, and small quantities of fresh and frozen provisions, stores, and water to the ships at sea, and jet fuel for aircraft assigned to aircraft carriers. The new vessels will add capacity to the navy’s Combat Logistics Force and “become the cornerstone of the fuel delivery system,” according to the US Navy.

In 2016, General Dynamics NASSCO was awarded the contract by the US Navy for the detailed design and construction of the next generation of fleet oilers, the John Lewis-class, previously known as the TAO(X). The contract calls for the design and construction of six 226-meter-long oilers with a full load displacement of 49,850 tons.

The company started the construction of USNS John Lewis in September 2018. The ship was launched in January 2021 and christened in July of the same year.

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NASSCO is currently in production on USNS Harvey Milk (T-AO 206), USNS Earl Warren (T-AO 207), and USNS Robert F. Kennedy (T-AO 208). The future USNS Lucy Stone (T-AO 209) and USNS Sojourner Truth (T-AO 210) are under contract.