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Military Sealift Command accepts Navy's newest combat logistics ship – USNS Wally Schirra

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sept. 1, 2009

San Diego today. The ship was built by General Dynamics NASSCO.

Schirra, named in honor of astronaut Walter “Wally” Schirra, is the eighth ship in the Lewis and Clark-class of underway replenishment ships. These ships – called T-AKEs – deliver ammunition, provisions, stores, spare parts, potable water and petroleum products to the Navy's underway carrier and expeditionary strike groups allowing them to stay at sea, on station and combat ready for extended periods of time.

“Not only have the T-AKEs greatly improved MSC's ability to deliver vital supplies to our Navy's deployed strike groups worldwide, but the flexibility in operations of this new class of ships has also enabled us to support a range of other missions,” said Capt. Jerome Hamel, commanding officer of MSC's office in San Diego, Sealift Logistics Command Pacific. “For example, USNS Richard Byrd is currently deployed on a humanitarian and civic assistance mission in the Western Pacific for the U.S. Pacific Command.”

In September, the 689-foot Schirra will go on a short “shakedown cruise” where the ship's crew will test a range of shipboard operations. Schirra is anticipated to begin conducting missions for MSC in May 2010.

Schirra is crewed by 124 civil service mariners working for MSC and 11 sailors who provide operational support and supply coordination. When needed, Schirra can also carry a helicopter detachment.

The Navy expects to build 14 T-AKEs, which are replacing some of MSC's aging, single-mission ships such as Kilauea-class ammunition ships and Mars- and Sirius-class combat stores ships that are nearing the end of their service lives.

MSC operates approximately 110 noncombatant, civilian-crewed ships that replenish U.S. Navy ships, conduct specialized missions, strategically preposition combat cargo at sea around the world and move military cargo and supplies used by deployed U.S. forces and coalition partners.

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