The Navy will christen and launch the dry cargo/ammunition ship the USNS Cesar Chavez, Saturday, May 5, 2012, during a 7:30 p.m. PDT ceremony at the General Dynamics NASSCO shipyard in San Diego.
The ship is named to honor prominent civil rights activist Cesar Chavez, who served in the Navy during World War II.
Juan M. Garcia III, assistant secretary of the Navy for manpower and reserve affairs, will deliver the ceremony’s principal address. Serving as the ship’s sponsor is Helen Fabela Chavez, widow of the ship’s namesake. The ceremony will include the Navy’s time-honored tradition of the sponsor breaking a bottle of champagne across the bow to formally christen the ship.
Continuing the Lewis and Clark class T-AKE tradition of honoring legendary pioneers and explorers, the Navy’s newest underway replenishment ship recognizes Mexican-American civil rights activist Cesar Chavez (1927-1993), who served in the Navy during World War II. Chavez later went on to become a leader in the American Labor Movement and co-found the National Farm Workers Association, which became the United Farm Workers.
Designated T-AKE 14, Cesar Chavez is the final of the Lewis and Clark dry cargo/ammunition ships, all of which will be operated by the U.S. Navy’s Military Sealift Command. To help the Navy maintain a worldwide forward presence by delivering ammunition, food, fuel, and other supplies to U.S. and allied ships at sea, T-AKEs are serving as combat logistics force (CLF) ships. In support of the enhanced maritime prepositioning ship squadron concept of operations, two T-AKEs are being allocated to the maritime prepositioning squadrons to provide sea-based logistics support to Marine Corps units afloat and ashore.
As part of MSC, T-AKE 14 is designated as a United States naval ship and will be crewed by civil service mariners. This is the first Navy ship named after Chavez. For CLF missions, the T-AKEs’ crews include a small department of sailors.
Like the other dry cargo/ammunition ships, T-AKE 14 is designed to operate independently for extended periods at sea and can carry two helicopters and their crews. The ship is 689 feet in length, has an overall beam of 106 feet, has a navigational draft of 30 feet, displaces approximately 42,000 tons and is capable of reaching a speed of 20 knots using a single-shaft, diesel-electric propulsion system.