JANUARY 7, 2016 —In a ship-naming ceremony held at the Cannon House Office Building in Washington, DC, yesterday, Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) Ray Mabus announced Jan. 6 that the first ship of the next generation of T-AO (X) fleet replenishment oilers (T-AO 205) will be named USNS John Lewis after the civil rights movement leader and current U.S. representative of Georgia's 5th Congressional District.
"As the first of its class, the future USNS John Lewis will play a vital role in the mission of our Navy and Marine Corps while also forging a new path in fleet replenishment," said Secretary Mabus. "Naming this ship after John Lewis is a fitting tribute to a man who has, from his youth, been at the forefront of progressive social and human rights movements in the U.S., directly shaping both the past and future of our nation."
The future USNS John Lewis will be operated by Military Sealift Command and provide underway replenishment of fuel and stores to U.S. Navy ships at sea and jet fuel for aircraft assigned to aircraft carriers.
A contract will be awarded for the ship in summer 2016 and construction is expected to begin in 2018.
According to a December 17, 2015 Congressional Research Service report:
"On June 25, 2015, the Navy, as part of its acquisition strategy for TAO(X) program, issued a combined solicitation consisting of separate Requests for Proposals (RFPs) for the detailed design and construction (DD&C) of the first six TAO(X)s, the detailed design and construction in FY2017 (and also procurement of long lead-time materials in FY2016) for an amphibious assault ship called LHA-8 that the Navy wants to procure in FY2017, and contract design support for the LX(R) program, a program to procure a new class of 11 amphibious ships.
"The Navy has limited bidding in this combined solicitation to two bidders—Ingalls Shipbuilding of Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII/Ingalls) and National Steel and Shipbuilding Company of General Dynamics (GD/NASSCO)—on the grounds that these are the only two shipbuilders that have the capability to build both TAO(X)s and LHA-8. Under the Navy’s plan for the combined solicitation, one of these two shipyards would be awarded the DD&C contract for the first six TAO(X)s, the other yard would be awarded the DD&C contract (and procurement of long lead-time materials) for LHA-8, and the shipyard with the lowest combined evaluated price will receive a higher profit on its DD&C contract and will be awarded the majority of the LX(R) contract design engineering man-hours."