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USNS Joshua Humphreys (T-AO 188) on 24 February 1987.

USNS Joshua Humphreys (T-AO 188) on 24 February 1987.
Click on this photograph for links to larger images of this class.

Class: HENRY J KAISER (T-AO 187)
Design: Top Level Requirements of 9 August 1983
Displacement (tons): 14,766 light, 42,383 full
Dimensions (feet): 678' oa, 651' wl x 98' e x 36' max nav
Armament: none
Accommodations: Accommodations for 36 officers and 53 enlisted, up to a maximum of 135 men
Speed (kts.): 20
Propulsion (HP): 32,540
Machinery: 2 medium-speed diesel engines with geared reduction drive, 2 screws

187HENRY J KAISER12 Nov 1982Avondale22 Aug 19845 Oct 198519 Dec 1986
188JOSHUA HUMPHREYS20 Jan 1983Avondale17 Dec 198422 Feb 19863 Apr 1987
189JOHN LENTHALL22 Nov 1983Avondale15 Jul 19859 Aug 198625 Jun 1987
190ANDREW J HIGGINS22 Nov 1983Avondale21 Nov 198517 Jan 198722 Oct 1987
191BENJAMIN ISHERWOOD6 May 1985Penna. SB, Chester12 Jul 198615 Aug 1988--
192HENRY ECKFORD6 May 1985Penna. SB, Chester22 Jan 198722 Jul 1989--
193WALTER S DIEHL28 Jun 1985Avondale7 Aug 19862 Oct 198713 Sep 1988
194JOHN ERICSSON16 Jun 1988Avondale13 Mar 198921 Apr 199019 Mar 1991
195LEROY GRUMMAN27 Feb 1987Avondale6 Jul 19873 Dec 19882 Aug 1989
196KANAWHA16 Jun 1988Avondale13 Jul 198922 Sep 19906 Dec 1991
197PECOS12 Feb 1987Avondale17 Feb 198823 Sep 19896 Jul 1990
198BIG HORN20 Jun 1988Avondale9 Oct 19892 Feb 199121 May 1992
199TIPPECANOE24 Mar 1989Avondale19 Nov 199016 May 19928 Feb 1993
200GUADALUPE6 Oct 1988Avondale9 Jul 19905 Oct 199125 Sep 1992
201PATUXENT24 Mar 1989Avondale16 Oct 199123 Jul 199421 Jun 1995
202YUKON6 Oct 1988Avondale13 May 19916 Feb 199325 Mar 1994
203LARAMIE24 Mar 1989Avondale10 Jan 19946 May 19957 May 1996
204RAPPAHANNOCK6 Oct 1988Avondale29 Jun 199214 Jan 19957 Nov 1995

AONameTOOSStrikeDisposalFateMA Sale
187HENRY J KAISERTIn service 2021--------
188JOSHUA HUMPHREYSTIn service 2021--------
189JOHN LENTHALLTSked decomm FY 2023--------
190ANDREW J HIGGINST6 May 19966 Jan 200919 May 2009Trf--
191BENJAMIN ISHERWOODTNot completed29 Dec 199715 Aug 1993Canc.MASALE
192HENRY ECKFORDTNot completed10 Nov 199715 Aug 1993Canc.MASALE
193WALTER S DIEHLTSked decomm FY 2023--------
194JOHN ERICSSONTIn service 2021--------
195LEROY GRUMMANTIn service 2021--------
196KANAWHATIn service 2021--------
197PECOSTIn service 2021--------
198BIG HORNTIn service 2021--------
199TIPPECANOETIn service 2021--------
200GUADALUPETIn service 2021--------
201PATUXENTTIn service 2021--------
202YUKONTIn service 2021--------
203LARAMIETIn service 2021--------
204RAPPAHANNOCKTIn service 2021--------

Class Notes:
President Ronald Reagan upon taking office in January 1981 advocated a strengthened defense policy against the Soviet Union, and his Secretary of the Navy, John F. Lehman, Jr., responded with a plan for a 600-ship navy. By December 1982 Lehman had obtained congressional approval to build more than 100 additional ships, which when added to the 479 afloat would come close to the 600-ship goal. Included in the plan was a replacement program for auxiliaries and mobile logistic support ships that contained long-term provisions to build a new class of oilers and a new AOE. Funding for the first of the new oilers was authorized in the FY 1982 budget and construction of three more of the class was included in the remainder of Lehman's five-year program. The contract for T-AO 187 was awarded on 12 November 1982, and Top Level Requirements for the fleet oiler, T-AO 187 type were promulgated on 9 August 1983, to be applicable to the T-AO in the FY 1982 and later programs. Sixteen HENRY J KAISER (T-AO 187) class ships were procured between FY 1982 and FY 1989 (excluding two not completed) and entered service between 1986 and 1996. They had an expected service life of 35 years, which the first ship in the class reached in 2021.

The design of the AO 187 class evolved out of a Pacific Fleet review of the CIMARRON (AO 177) class conducted in 1975. It revealed a need for a fleet oiler whose primary mission would be to provide one-stop replenishment to small surface combatants and amphibious units. It would also bring replacement fuel to the AOEs and AORs that supported carrier battle groups, and it could refuel these battle groups directly although this was considered a secondary mission. Although having the capacity to provide replenishment of small quantities of ammunition and provisions, it would have fewer delivery stations and a crew smaller than an AOR. In April 1979 CNO reviewed the features desired for new construction oilers and directed that all follow-on oilers to the AO 177 class be designed and constructed to commercial standards and manned by civilians. The 1983 Top Level Requirements for the class stated that the objective of the T-AO program was to acquire a class of fleet oilers, constructed to commercial standards, which would provide at low cost an operational platform to replenish carrier battle groups and other surface forces operating independently of carrier battle groups. The ship was to transport POL received from shore depots or suitably-equipped tankers to AOEs, AORs and AOs, delivering and consolidating while underway at speeds between 10 and 15 knots (speeds higher than 16 knots were expected to be used only in wartime with most peacetime operations being at 12-14 knots). Basic characteristics were a sustained speed of 20 knots (80% full power, clean bottom, calm sea), an endurance at that speed of 6,000 nm, a maximum draft of 35 feet with a freeboard from the load waterline to the UNREP deck of not less than 25 feet (changed on 28 August 1987 to a maximum draft of 36 feet with a freeboard of not less than 24 feet), a liquid cargo of 180,000 barrels, dry cargo of 430 tons of non-refrigerated, palletized, drummed liquids and bottled gases, and a minimum of seven 20-foot refrigerated containers. The ship was to have a replenishment-at-sea (CONREP, or connected replenishment) capability for liquid cargo equivalent to that of the AO 177 class oiler and was to have five Standard Tensioned Replenishment Alongside Method (STREAM) stations (3 to port and 2 to starboard) for fuel and two for dry cargo. The CONREP equipment was basically to be that used in AO 177. The ship was also to have a VERTREP (helicopter transfer) capability for dry cargo. Main propulsion was to be from two medium-speed diesel engines with geared reduction drive to twin shafts equipped with controllable-pitch propellers, arranged for split-plant operation. The ship was not to be designed for operation in ice fields without icebreaker support but was to be ice-strengthened. The ship was designed from the outset for operation by a civilian MSC crew according to MSC procedures with a small Navy detachment to handle communications and, when fitted, the Close-In Weapons System (CIWS).

When completed all of these ships were placed in service with MSC to support the fleet, initially replacing both the jumboized AO 105 class and the AO 143 class oilers. T-AO 191-192, however, were never completed. The contract for them with Pennsylvania SB of Chester, PA, (the former Sun SB & DD yard) was terminated effective 31 Aug 1989 and the ships were towed incomplete to NSY Philadelphia. They were reawarded to Tampa SY, Tampa, FL, 16 Nov 1989 but this politically-inspired arrangement failed, the contract was terminated 15 Aug 1993. The Navy decided that their completion as oilers was no longer necessary and considered converting them into ammunition ships, but the conversion was found to be cost-prohibitive and the incomplete ships were towed to MARAD's James River Reserve Fleet for disposal. After obtaining CALOOSAHATCHEE, CANISTEO, COMPASS ISLAND, and CANOPUS (whose scrapping was held up by local protests until 2008), the British firm Able UK was to get a contract to scrap 9 more ships including AO 191-192, but they stayed in the NDRF until resold by Able in 2011. In response to the EXXON VALDEZ oil spill and the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 T-AO 201, 203 and 204 were built with double hulls, the previous ships of the class having single hulls. These final ships also had integrated electrical auxiliary propulsion and a cargo capacity that was reduced by 17 percent (about 21,000 barrels), although this could be restored in an emergency. Hull separation in the double hulls was 6 feet at the sides and 6.5 feet on the bottom. By 2021 the remaining ships of the T-AO 187 class were categorized as Combat Logistics Ships along with the T-AOE 6 class and the later T-AKE 1 type. In contrast, other auxiliaries were categorized as Fleet Support ships. In early 2022, with the AO 205 class beginning to come on line and with the early T-AO 187 ships reaching their age limit, SECNAV placed T-AO 189 and 193 on the list of ships proposed for inactivation during Fiscal Year 2023, with T-AO 187-188, 194-195, and 197 to follow in FY 2025-27.

Ship Notes:
187HENRY J KAISERFY 1982. Name assigned 29 Aug 1983. OOS 31 Jan 1995, active in Iraq War 2003.
188JOSHUA HUMPHREYSFY 1983. Name assigned 5 Mar 1984. OOS 29 Jun 1996, active with MSC 23 Feb 2005 to 30 Nov 2006 and from 10 Jun 2010.
189JOHN LENTHALLFY 1984. Name assigned 24 May 1985. OOS 11 Nov 1996, active with MSC 7 Dec 1998.
190ANDREW J HIGGINSFY 1984. Name assigned 9 Sep 1985. OOS 6 May 1996 and to SBRF same date. Trf. to Chile 19 May 2009. Comm. 10 Feb 2010 at Mobile, Ala., as the Chilean supply ship ALMIRANTE MONTT (AO 52) replacing their ARAUCANO.
191BENJAMIN ISHERWOODFY 1985. Name assigned 9 Sep 1986. Christened at Tampa, Fla., 7 Dec 1991. Canc. when 95.3% complete. To JRRF 27 Sep 1994. Downgraded to non-retention May 1995. Title to MA 1 Feb 1999. Sold to Able UK but remained in JRRF, resold by them to International Shipbreaking Ltd. at Brownsville, Tex. Title transferred from Able to ISL on the day vessel departed. Withdrawn from MA accounts upon departure on 12 Jul 2011.
192HENRY ECKFORDFY 1985. Name assigned 18 Mar 1987. Launch originally given as 14 Aug 1989. Canc. when 84% complete. To MA custody in JRRF 4 Oct 1994. Downgraded to non-retention May 1995. Strike also given as 29 Dec 1997. Title to MA 2 Feb 1998. Sold to Able UK but remained in JRRF, resold by them to International Shipbreaking Ltd. Title transferred from Able to ISL on the day vessel departed. Withdrawn from MA accounts upon departure on 19 Jul 2011.
193WALTER S DIEHLFY 1985. Name assigned 9 Sep 1986. Out of service and to reserve 1 Oct 2022.
194JOHN ERICSSONFY 1986. Original contract 27 Feb 1986 with Penna. SB, Chester, cancelled. Name assigned 18 Mar 1987.
195LEROY GRUMMANFY 1986. Name assigned 2 Mar 1987.
196KANAWHAFY 1987. Original contract 12 Feb 1987 with Penna. SB, Chester, cancelled. Name assigned 6 Jan 1988.
197PECOSFY 1987. Name assigned 6 Jan 1988.
198BIG HORNFY 1988. Name assigned 9 May 1989.
199TIPPECANOEFY 1988. Name assigned 8 Dec 1989.
200GUADALUPEFY 1989. Name assigned 9 May 1989.
201PATUXENTFY 1989. Name assigned 8 Dec 1989.
202YUKONFY 1989. Name reassigned from T-AOT 152 on 9 May 1989.
203LARAMIEFY 1989. Name assigned 8 Dec 1989.
204RAPPAHANNOCKFY 1989. Name assigned 9 May 1989.

Page Notes:
Compiled: 24 Oct 2021
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2021
Special sources: Thomas Wildenberg, Gray Steel and Black Oil (Annapolis, 1996)