Military Sealift Command christened its newest ship, fleet replenishment oiler USNS Robert F. Kennedy, during a ceremony Saturday at the General Dynamics NASSCO shipyard in San Diego.
Among the dignitaries on the scene were Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro; former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.; Rear Adm. Brendan McClain; and Capt. Micah Murphy, commander, Military Sealift Command Pacific, and commander Task Force 33.
The ship honors Robert F. Kennedy, an American lawyer and politician who served as the 64th United States Attorney General from January 1961 to September 1964, during his brother John F. Kennedy’s presidency.
The ship was officially christened when Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Robert Kennedy’s oldest child and ship’s sponsor, broke the ceremonial bottle of champagne against the ship’s hull.
“The Navy is a fighting force and a force for peace,” Kennedy Townsend said. “It is fitting that the Secretary of the Navy named a class of ship after civil rights leaders like my father.”
The 746-foot Kennedy is the fourth ship in the John Lewis-class, according to a Navy news release. This class of oilers has the ability to carry 162,000 barrels of diesel ship fuel, aviation fuel and dry stores cargo. The upgraded oiler is built with double hulls to protect against oil spills and has strengthened cargo and ballast tanks. It will be equipped with a basic self-defense capability, including crew-served weapons and Nixie torpedo decoys. It also has the capabilities for close-in weapons systems such as SeaRAMs, and an Anti-Torpedo Defense System. The Lewis-class of oilers will replace the current Kaiser Class fleet replenishment oilers.