The Navy announced today the newest Lewis and Clark-class dry cargo/ammunition ship (T-AKE) would be named USNS Medgar Evers. The announcement was made by Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus during a Jackson State University speaking engagement in Mississippi.
Continuing the Lewis and Clark-class tradition of honoring legendary pioneers and explorers, the Navy’s newest underway replenishment ship recognizes civil rights activist Medgar Evers (1925-1963) who forever changed race relations in America. At a time when our country was wrestling to end segregation and racial injustice, Evers led efforts to secure the right to vote for all African Americans and to integrate public facilities, schools, and restaurants. On June 12, 1963, the Mississippi native was assassinated in the driveway of his home. Evers’ death prompted President John F. Kennedy to ask the Congress for a comprehensive civil rights bill.
Other ships in the class include Scagawea, Alan Shepard and Amelia Earhart.
The dry cargo/ammunition ships are operated by the Navy’s Military Sealift Command and provide multi-product combat logistics support to the Navy fleet. USNS Lewis and Clark (T-AKE 1), the class lead ship, is a new Combat Logistics Force (CLF) underway replenishment vessel intended to replace the current capability of the Kilauea-class (T-AE 26) ammunition ships and Mars-class (T-AFS 1) combat stores ships. With the retirement of the Sacramento-class (AOE 1) fast combat support ships, the T-AKEs may also operate as battle group station ships when accompanied by a Henry J. Kaiser-class (T-AO 187) oiler. The T-AKE program calls for up to 14 ships and has a budget of more than $6 billion. The T-AKE acquisition program resides within the Navy’s Program Executive Office, Ships – Support Ships Boats and Craft Program Office (PEO Ships/PMS325).
Designated T-AKE 13, Medgar Evers will be the 13th ship of the class, and is being built by General Dynamics NASSCO in San Diego. As a combat logistics force ship, Medgar Evers will help the Navy maintain a worldwide forward presence by delivering ammunition, food, fuel, and other dry cargo to U.S. and allied ships at sea.
As part of Military Sealift Command’s Naval Fleet Auxiliary Force, Medgar Evers will be designated as a United States Naval Ship (USNS) and will be crewed by 124 civil service mariners and 11 Navy sailors. The ship is designed to operate independently for extended periods at sea, can carry a helicopter, 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.