Saturday, August 08, 2009

Future USNS Wally Schirra Completes Acceptance Trials

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The future USNS Wally Schirra (T-AKE 8) completed Acceptance Trials Aug. 6, sailing from and returning to the General Dynamics NASSCO shipyard in San Diego.

The future USNS Wally Schirra is the eighth ship of the Lewis and Clark-class to be presented to the Navy's Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) for acceptance. This is the final major milestone prior to delivery to the Navy and the first and only time the ship will go to sea prior to her crew moving aboard. During acceptance trials, the dry cargo/ammunition ship successfully demonstrated a variety of systems including main propulsion, engineering, ship control systems and crew support.

"The successful completion of acceptance trials is a major step towards bringing the ship into the fleet," said Frank McCarthey, the T-AKE-class program manager for the Navy's Program Executive Office for Ships (PEO Ships). "The T-AKE program continues to deliver high quality ships to the fleet on cost and ahead of schedule."

NASSCO continues to make substantial reductions in labor hours from hull to hull on the program, and it has invested significant capital in the yard over the last several years. T-AKEs have been delivering approximately one to two months early, with future ships delivering even earlier as the program compresses the overall build profile. Wally Schirra is scheduled to deliver Sept. 1, more than a month ahead of the contract delivery date.

The T-AKE program has contract options for up to 14 ships with 12 ships fully under contract. To date, seven ships of the T-AKE class have been delivered, the last of which was USNS Carl Brashear (T-AKE 7) on March 4.

As a combat logistics force ship, Wally Schirra will help the Navy maintain a worldwide forward presence by delivering ammunition, food, fuel and other dry cargo to U.S. and allied ships at sea. The ship is designed to operate independently for extended periods at sea and can carry and support two helicopters. T-AKE 8 was launched and christened March 8 at the General Dynamics NASSCO shipyard in San Diego.

Continuing the Lewis and Clark-class tradition of honoring legendary pioneers and explorers, the Navy's newest underway replenishment ship recognizes Walter "Wally" Schirra Jr., a U.S. Naval Academy graduate and former Navy test pilot who served in both World War II and the Korean War. Schirra also holds the distinction of being the only astronaut to fly in each of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo space programs.

PEO Ships is responsible for the development and acquisition of U.S. Navy surface ships and is currently managing the design and construction of a wide range of ship classes and small boats and craft. These platforms range from major warships such as frontline surface combatants and amphibious assault ships to air-cushioned landing craft, oceanographic research ships and special warfare craft. PEO Ships has delivered 32 major warships and hundreds of small boats and craft from more than 30 shipyards and boat builders across the United States.