T-AKE Lewis and Clark
As an auxiliary support ship, T-AKE will directly contribute to the ability of the Navy to maintain a forward presence. In its primary mission role, the T-AKE will provide logistic lift from sources of supply such as friendly ports, or at sea from specially equipped merchant ships by consolidation, and will transfer cargo (ammunition, food, limited quantities of fuel, repair parts, ship store items, and expendable supplies and material) at sea to station ships and other naval warfare forces. In its secondary mission, the T-AKE may be required to operate in concert with a Henry J. Kaiser-Class (T-AO 187) Oiler as a substitute station ship to provide direct logistics support to the ships within a Carrier Battle Group.
The T-AKE 1 Lewis and Clark-class of ships is intended to replace the T-AE 26 Kilauea class ammunition ships, T-AFS 1 Mars class combat stores ships and, when operating with T-AO 187 Henry J. Kaiser-Class oilers, the AOE 1 Sacramento class fast combat support ships. These ships are on average 40 years old and near the end of their service lives. Lewis and Clark is designed to carry 63 percent of what the AE and the AFS ships can carry, plus 100 percent of the refrigerated stores. Or she can carry more than 100 percent of just ammo or stores plus the refrigerated stores. She also has the ability to provide 1 million gallons of fuel while not taking away from her own stores, even though she is not an oiler. The Lewis and Clark-class dry cargo/ammo ships will also have the capability of transferring up to 50,000 gallons of potable water.
The T-AKE ships are 210 meters (689 feet) in length and 32.2 meters (105.6 feet) in beam, with a design draft of 9.12 meters (29.9 feet) and a displacement of 41,000 metric tons. In addition, the ships incorporate international marine technologies and commercial ship-design features, including an integrated electric-drive propulsion system, to minimize operating costs over their projected 40-year service life.
Specific features of the T-AKE include convertible cargo stowage areas, which can be reconfigured as the situation demands. T-AKE was designed to accommodate stowage containers called QUADCONs in its multipurpose cargo stowage areas. Additionally, forklift-towable trailers have been designed to allow more efficient movement of pallets on the ship's transfer deck. T-AKE will also have upgraded material handling equipment, transfer deck and pre-staging areas, Shipboard Warehouse Management System (SWMS), Lightweight Cargo Stowage System (LCSS) and elevator upgrades.
NASSCO has incorporated international marine technologies and commercial ship-design features into the T-AKE class, including an integrated electric-drive propulsion system. The ships can deliver more than 10,000 tons of food, ammunition, fuel and other provisions to combat ships at sea.
Innovative design and space-saving techniques, will give this new breed of ship the ability to service the fleet better and more cost-effectively. These ships are much more capable. Some of the biggest, most noticeable differences in the Lewis and Clark include an open transfer deck, multipurpose cargo holds, improved cargo elevators and the use of the shipboard warehouse management system. All this directly contributes to the ability of the Navy to maintain a forward presence. Lewis and Clark combine the capabilities of the oilers and ammunition ships and cargo ships into one.
Lewis and Clark is an achievement of ingenuity and advancement within the combat logistics force. The principle characteristic of Lewis and Clark is the ship's two main holds that can carry either ammunition or dry cargo. Lewis and Clark also has the largest cargo-carrying capacity of any combat logistic force ship afloat. She has convertible ammunition, dry cargo, refrigerated and freezer capacity, two full holds for specialty cargo and space for 24,000 barrels of fuel oil.
This class of ships has the largest flight deck of any vessel in the combat logistic force. Each can support two military logistics helicopters to conduct vertical replenishments. Designed to operate independently for extended periods at sea, these ships will transfer ammunition, food, limited quantities of fuel, repair parts, ship store items and expendable supplies and material to US, NATO and other allied ships while at sea.
The new design resulted in wide-open, unobstructed weather decks and larger magazines. The ship is designed with the most modern ammunition elevators that conform to the latest safety codes. The fuel stations are mounted on the O-1 level, away from the cargo area. This gives the ship more maneuverability in the cargo areas. Another design improvement is Lewis and Clark's flight deck. It does not taper off like its predecessors, but rather is 106-feet wide for the entire length, allowing for more room to stage gear. The new design also includes a bow thruster for pulling into and out of ports without having to rely on tugs.
Innovation and the environment also played a huge role in the design of this new ship class. Lewis and Clark will be installed with the first shipboard warehouse management system ever used at sea. Using a combination of bar code scanners and software, the ship's crew will be able to track each piece of cargo from on-load to off-load, allowing carrier strike group commanders to access the exact location of their cargo while it is aboard the ship. This feature will reduce the hundreds of hours cargo mates typically spend on board ship keeping track of cargo. To protect the environment in the 21st century, the ship has also been equipped with several newly designed environmental control systems that surpass standards set by the Maritime Pollution Act.
The designers of Lewis and Clark did not forget about the crew who will call this ship home either - the ship's living accommodations are substantial. Each crew member, from the entry-level supply utility to the master, will have an individual stateroom. Most will also have their own private bath. High-speed Internet, cable TV and phone outlets will be installed in every room. The ship also boasts four lounges, a library, a workout facility and a hobby shop, among other things.
Lewis and Clark will be manned by 124 civil service mariners and 13 Navy Sailors. All ships of this class will be operated by the U.S. Navy's Military Sealift Command. Four will use Norfolk as their base of operations.
One of the primary goals of the T-AKE program is to provide effective fleet underway replenishment capability at the lowest life cycle cost. To meet that goal, the new class of ship was built to commercial specifications and standards, and is certified/classed by the American Bureau of Shipping, the U.S. Coast Guard and other US regulatory bodies. This ship was built from the keel up to commercial standards under a performance contract. This contract basically told the shipyards what the ship should be able to do - not how to build it.