San Diego-based shipbuilder General Dynamics NASSCO confirmed in late June that it has been awarded a $600 million contract by the U.S. Navy to support construction of the seventh and eighth ships in USN’s the John Lewis-class fleet oiler (T-AO) program, as well as the sixth ship in its Expeditionary Sea Base (ESB) program.
The contract modifications for long-lead-time material provide $500 million for T-AO 211 and 212, and $100 million for ESB 8. Construction is scheduled to begin in the third quarter of 2023 and continue into 2027.
“NASSCO shipbuilders are honored to build T-AO 211, T-AO 212 and ESB 8,” General Dynamics NASSCO President Dave Carver said. “The NASSCO team is excited to work with our Navy partners to ensure the success of both historic programs which are critical in supporting the Navy’s forward presence.”
In 2011, the Navy awarded NASSCO with a contract to design and build the first two ships in the newly created Mobile Landing Platform (MLP) program, the USNS Montford Point and USNS John Glenn. The program evolved, adding the USS Lewis B. Puller, USS Hershel “Woody” Williams and the USS Miguel Keith, USNS John L. Canley and the USNS Robert E. Simanek (ESB 7), configured and renamed as ESBs.
ESBs are highly flexible platforms designed to support multiple maritime-based missions. Acting as a mobile sea base, the 784-foot ship has a 52,000 square-foot flight deck to support aircraft operations. Following the delivery of the first five ships to the U.S. Navy, the sixth ship, the USNS John L. Canley, was christened on June 25. The USNS Robert E. Simanek (ESB 7), the seventh ship, is under construction.
In 2016, the Navy awarded NASSCO with a contract to design and build the first six ships in the next generation of fleet oilers, the John Lewis-class (T-AO 205), previously known as the TAO(X). 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 first ship, the future USNS John Lewis (T-AO 205), is scheduled for delivery later this year. The future USNS Harvey Milk (T-AO 206), the future USNS Earl Warren (T-AO 207), and the future USNS Robert F. Kennedy (T-AO 208), are under construction.