Tag Archives: USNS Robert F. Kennedy (T-AO 208)

Keel-laying ceremony

On Monday, December 5, General Dynamics National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (NASSCO) laid the keel for the future USNS Robert F. Kennedy (T-AO-208), the fourth ship in the John Lewis-class fleet replenishment oiler program for the U.S. Navy.

USNS Robert F. Kennedy (T-AO-208)
General Dynamics NASSCO Lays Keel for Future USNS Robert F. Kennedy (T-AO-208)

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, sixth Lieutenant Governor of Maryland, the sponsor for the future USNS Robert F. Kennedy (T-AO-208) and daughter of the ship’s namesake, welded her initials onto a steel plate that will be permanently affixed to the ship’s keel and will remain with the vessel throughout its time in service.

Former Secretary of the U.S. Navy Ray Mabus declared the John Lewis-class of oilers be named after leaders who fought for civil and human rights. The fourth ship honors Robert F. Kennedy, who served as the U.S. Attorney General from 1961 to 1964 and as a U.S. Senator from New York from 1965-1968.

Robert F. Kennedy

On May 21, General Dynamics National Association of Sewer Service Companies (NASSCO) started construction of the future USNS Robert F. Kennedy (T-AO 208), the fourth of six vessels for the U.S. Navy’s John Lewis-class fleet oiler program.

USNS John Lewis (T-AO 205)
USNS John Lewis (T-AO 205) (General Dynamics NASSCO picture)

Francisco Medina, a long-time NASSCO employee and the Start of Construction honoree, initiated the first cut of steel that will be used to construct the vessel.

«Today, we celebrate a time-honored tradition that marks the beginning of production for the ship and to celebrate the life and service of the ship’s namesake Robert F. Kennedy», said Dave Carver, president of General Dynamics NASSCO. «This ship represents the thousands of men and women who have worked hard to make this ship class a success».

Designed to transfer fuel to U.S. Navy carrier strike group ships operating at sea, the 742-feet/226 meters vessels have a full load displacement of 49,850 tons, with the capacity to carry 157,000 barrels of oil, a significant dry cargo capacity, aviation capability and up to a speed of 20 knots/23 mph/37 km/h.

Due to current COVID-19 restrictions, representatives from NASSCO and the U.S. Navy gathered for a hybrid virtual and in-person ceremony. A short recap video with remarks will be released via the NASSCO website following the event.