San Diego-based shipbuilder General Dynamics NASSCO has laid the keel for the future USNS Robert F. Kennedy, honoring the late U.S. Attorney General and New York senator, the company announced Dec. 5.
Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, the vessel’s sponsor and the daughter of the man the vessel is named after, was present to etch her initials onto a steel plate that is to be added to the keel of the vessel.
The USNS Robert F. Kennedy is the U.S. Navy’s fourth ship in the John Lewis-class fleet replenishment oiler program. The vessel is part of a multi-vessel contract won by NASSCO in 2016 to design and construct the navy’s next generation of fleet oilers to replace the current T-AO 187-class fleet.
The contract calls for six 742-foot-long oilers that are able to move fuel to naval carrier strike group vessels at sea. Each oiler features a full load displacement of 49,850 tons, can carry up to 157,000 barrels of oil, a large capacity for dry cargo, aviation capability and up to a speed of 20 knots, according to the company.