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USNS John Lewis (T-AO 205) on builder's trials on or before 4 February 2022.

USNS John Lewis (T-AO 205) on builder's trials on or before 4 February 2022.
Click on this photograph for links to larger images of this class.

Class: JOHN LEWIS (T-AO 205)
Design: T-AO 205
Displacement (tons): 48,927 full
Dimensions (feet): 746' oa, 707' wl x 106.3' x 33.5' max
Armament: Space, weight and power reserved for CIWS or SeaRAM (Rolling Airframe Missile)
Complement: 125 total
Speed (kts.): 20
Propulsion (BHP): 38,000 (2 x 19,000)
Machinery: 2 medium-speed Fairbanks Morse four-stroke diesels with exhaust after-treatment system, 2 screws

205JOHN LEWIS30 Jun 2016NASSCO13 May 201912 Jan 202126 Jul 2022
206HARVEY MILK30 Jun 2016NASSCO3 Sep 20206 Nov 202111 Jul 2023
207EARL WARREN30 Jun 2016NASSCO30 Apr 202228 Oct 2022--
208ROBERT F KENNEDY30 Jun 2016NASSCO5 Dec 202228 Oct 2023--
209LUCY STONE30 Jun 2016NASSCO27 Apr 2023----
213(Unnamed)19 May 2023NASSCO------

AONameTInactStrikeDisposalFateMA Sale
205JOHN LEWIST----------
206HARVEY MILKT----------
207EARL WARRENT----------
208ROBERT F KENNEDYT----------
209LUCY STONET----------

Class Notes:
On June 30, 2016, General Dynamics National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (NASSCO) was awarded a contract for the detailed design and construction of six JOHN LEWIS (T-AO 205) class replenishment oilers. The T-AO 205 class has capabilities similar to those of the preceding HENRY J KAISER (T-AO 187) class, relies on existing technologies rather than new technologies, and is constructed to commercial standards. To guard against oil spills, T-AO 205s are double-hulled, like modern commercial oil tankers and the last three ships of the KAISER class, with a space between the two hulls to protect the inner hull against events that puncture the outer hull. The new ships can carry 156,000 barrels of oil and have increased dry cargo storage over the HENRY J KAISER class. There are stations on both sides of each ship for underway replenishment of fuel and stores for a total of 5 refueling stations and two dry cargo transfer rigs. They are placed in service with MSC to support the fleet when completed. By 2021 these along with the remaining ships of the T-AO 187 class, the T-AOE 6 class, and the new T-AKE 1 type were categorized as Combat Logistics Ships in contrast with the other auxiliaries which were categorized as Fleet Support ships. On January 6, 2016, then-Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced that the T-AO 205 class ships would be named for “people who fought for civil rights and human rights.”

According to a Congressional Research Service (CRS) report, the required number of oilers largely depends on the numbers and types of other surface ships (and their embarked aircraft) to be refueled, and the projected operational patterns for these ships and aircraft. The Navy’s force-level objective as released on December 15, 2016 called for achieving and maintaining a 355-ship fleet, including 32 CLF (Combat Logistics Force) ships, of which 20 were to be T-AO 205s. The Navy procured the first T-AO 205 in FY 2016, the second in FY 2018, the third and fourth in FY 2019, and the fifth and sixth in FY 2020. All six were procured under a block buy contract that was authorized by the FY 2016 National Defense Authorization Act. Two more ships were added under the Navy’s FY 2022 budget and another followed in FY 2023. The NASSCO contract was modified on 4 August 2022 to include T-AO 211 and 212 and an option for T-AO 213 when authorized (which occurred on 19 May 2023). The Navy’s five-year (FY 2024-FY 2028) shipbuilding program includes one T-AO 205 (the tenth ship) in FY 2024, two in FY 2026, one in FY 2027, and one in FY 2028, bringing the class at that time to 14 ships, although these five-year plans are often poor predictors of actual procurement.

Since 2019 the Navy and DOD have been working to develop a new Navy force-level goal to replace the 2016 355-ship goal. At the same time the Navy’s FY 2021 budget submission initiated the NGLS program, also known as the Next-Generation Medium Logistics Ship program, which envisaged building a new class of CLF ships (or a family of CLF ship designs) that would be smaller and individually less expensive to procure than the Navy’s current CLF ships. (The Navy now also refers to the NGLS as a T-AOL or light oiler.) The NGLS (or T-AOL) is part of a new operational concept that the Navy is studying called Distributed Maritime Operations (DMO). To more effectively counter the improving anti-access/area-denial (A2/AD) capabilities of adversaries (China in particular), which aim to create a defended area around a country that in time of conflict would be a “no-go zone” for opposing military forces, DMO calls for shifting to a new, more distributed fleet architecture that is to include a reduced proportion of larger ships and an increased proportion of smaller ships along with conducting more-widely dispersed Navy operations. DMO aims at avoiding a situation in which an adversary could defeat U.S. naval forces by concentrating its attacks on a relatively small number of large, high-value U.S. Navy ships. The Navy’s five-year (FY 2024-FY 2028) shipbuilding plan programs the procurement of the first NGLS in FY 2026 followed by one each year in FY 2027 and FY 2028, concurrent with T-AO 205 procurement in the same years. The future of the Combat Logistic Force may thus be very different from the current mix of T-AOEs, T-AOs, and T-AKEs.

The underway replenishment system of record for new ship construction beginning with the T-AO-205 class is the new "Electric STREAM" (E-STREAM) fuel and cargo delivery system. In the early 2000s, a requirement to increase the sortie generation rate of GERALD R FORD class aircraft carriers led to the development of a new, heavier-capacity UNREP system design. The transfer requirements were increased from 25 5,700-pound loads per hour to either 25 12,000- or 50 6,000-pound loads per hour. Two prototype heavy delivery stations were built, one ashore and one in 2012 on USNS ARCTIC (T-AOE-8). This new system, with variable-frequency drives and a programmable logic control system, has proved more reliable, more compact, easier to use and maintain, and less damaging to cargo while preserving complete compatibility with existing STREAM receiving stations at the original load weight but with increased transfer speeds. A third installation on board USNS CESAR CHAVEZ (T-AKE 14) was completed in October 2017. As of 2018 only the speed improvements and not the heavy lift capability were being implementated.

Ship Notes:
205JOHN LEWISFY 2016. Construction started 20 Sep 2018, christened alongside a NASSCO pier 17 Jul 2021. Acceptance trials 25 Apr 2022.
206HARVEY MILKFY 2018. Christened at launch 6 Nov 2021, acceptance trials completed May 2023, delivery accepted 11 Jul 2023.
207EARL WARRENFY 2019. Christened 21 Jan 2023.
208ROBERT F KENNEDYFY 2019. Construction started 21 May 2021.
209LUCY STONEFY 2020. Construction started 21 Oct 2022.
210SOJOURNER TRUTHFY 2020. Construction started 27 Mar 2023.
214(Unnamed)FY 2024.

Page Notes:
Compiled: 9 Jun 2022
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2022
Special sources: CRS Report by Ronald O'Rourke, "Navy John Lewis (TAO-205) Class Oiler Shipbuilding Program: Background and Issues for Congress," as updated March 27, 2023.