USNS Chavez Delivered


December 2012


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The fourteenth and final ship in the Navy’s Lewis and Clark-class – the USNS Cesar Chavez – was delivered to the Military Sealift Command (MSC) Oct. 24 during a short ceremony in San Diego.


Members of the SIU’s Government Services Division will sail in the unlicensed slots aboard the dry cargo/ammunition ship (abbreviated as T-AKE), which was built at the union-contracted General Dynamics NASSCO shipyard.


The ship, which was christened May 5 in San Diego, honors Cesar Chavez, an American farm worker, labor leader and civil rights activist who co-founded the National Farm Workers Association, which later became the United Farm Workers. He is well known for his use of non-violent tactics that made the farm workers’ struggle a moral cause with nationwide support.


“This is an historic day for Military Sealift Command, as we accept into our fleet the last ship in the T-AKE program,” said Capt. Sylvester Moore, commander, MSC Pacific.


“Like the 13 ships that came before it, USNS Cesar Chavez will be an important component in support of the United States Navy ships and missions around the world. Whether we are supporting an aircraft carrier or transporting humanitarian assistance and disaster relief supplies, the T-AKEs and all MSC underway replenishment ships bring to life the motto: MSC delivers."


With a crew of 125 CIVMARS working for MSC (including SIU members and licensed officers) and 11 U.S. Navy Sailors who provide operational support and supply coordination, the 689-footlong Chavez is slated for use by MSC’s Combat Logistics Force, or CLF. CLF ships – also manned by SIU Government Services Division members – deliver ammunition, food, fuel and other supplies to U.S. and allied ships at sea, enabling the Navy to maintain a worldwide forward presence.


According to the Navy, the first 11 dry cargo/ammunition ships are operating as part of the CLF, “delivering vital fuel, equipment and supplies to Navy warships at sea. The remaining three ships in the T-AKE class are expected to be assigned to maritime prepositioning squadrons, which strategically place combat cargo at sea for rapid delivery to warfighters ashore.”


“The delivery of Chavez marks a significant milestone for MSC – we are now at full capacity with our dry-cargo and ammunition ships and stand ready to support a wide-range of Department of Defense requirements,” said Rear Admiral Mark Buzby, MSC commander. “The T-AKEs, and the professional mariners who operate them, are a true testament to MSC’s ability to operate forward and provide an unprecedented level of service and support to our warfighters worldwide.”


The ships in this class are replacing vessels such as the Kilauea-class ammunition ships and Mars- and Sirius-class combat stores ships as they reach the end of their service lives.



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