ARLINGTON, Va. — The Navy will christen its first-in-class John Lewis-class replenishment oiler, the future USNS John Lewis (T-AO 205), during a 9 a.m. PDT ceremony Saturday, July 17, in San Diego, California, the Defense Department announced in a July 16 release.
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-California, will deliver the ceremonial principal address. Remarks will also be provided by James Geurts, performing the duties of Under Secretary of the Navy; Vice Adm. Ross Myers, commander, Fleet Cyber Command and commander, U.S. 10th Fleet; Rear Adm. Michael Wettlaufer, commander, Military Sealift Command; and Marcus Tyner, nephew of the ship’s namesake. In a time-honored Navy tradition, the ship’s sponsor, Alfre Woodard Spencer, will christen the ship by breaking a bottle of sparkling wine across the bow.
“Tomorrow we christen the first John Lewis-class replenishment oiler,” said acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Harker. “Leaders like Representative Lewis taught us that diversity of backgrounds and experiences help contribute to the strength of our nation. There is no doubt that the future Sailors aboard this ship will be galvanized by Lewis’ legacy.”
The future USNS John Lewis is the first ship in its class and will be operated by the Navy’s Military Sealift Command. The ship is named in honor of the late politician and civil rights leader. John Lewis-class oilers will be named for other prominent civil rights leaders and activists.
The John Lewis-class ships are based on commercial design standards and will recapitalize the current T-AO 187-class fleet replenishment oilers to provide underway replenishment of fuel to U.S. Navy ships at sea. These ships are part of the Navy’s Combat Logistics Force.
In June 2016, the Navy awarded a $3.2 billion contract to General Dynamics NASSCO in San Diego for the design and construction of the first six ships of the Future Fleet Replenishment Ship, the John Lewis-class (T-AO 205), with construction commencing in September 2018. The Navy plans to procure 20 ships of the new class.
Lewis passed July 17, 2020; the christening marks the one-year anniversary of his death.