U.S. Navy to Christen USNS Cesar Chavez

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.

Addi­tion­al infor­ma­tion about the T‑AKE class of ship is avail­able on line at http://www.navy.mil/navydata/fact_display.asp?cid=4400&tid=500&ct=4 .

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)