The future USNS John Lewis (T-AO 205), the first in a new class of fleet replenishment oilers, completed initial builder’s trials last week, the Navy said on Feb. 8

The ship was built by General Dynamics’ National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (NASSCO) [GD]. The trials included a series of both in-port and at-sea demonstrations to allow GD and the Navy to assess the ship’s systems and readiness before moving on to acceptance trials and delivery to the Navy.

The ship returned to port in San Diego on Feb. 4.

These new T-AOs will be operated by Military Sealift Command to provide diesel fuel and lubricating oil as well as small amounts of fresh and frozen provisions, stores, and potable water to Navy ships at sea and jet fuel for aircraft assigned to aircraft carriers.

The ship and class are named after civil rights activist and former Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), who died in 2020.

The vessels are based on commercial design standards and aim to recapitalize the current T-AO 187-class replenishment oilers. 

“Ensuring readiness through sea trials is a crucial step to bringing this ship closer to fleet tasking. USNS John Lewis will provide much needed capability to the fleet as the primary fuel pipeline at sea,” said John Lighthammer, program manager for the Auxiliary and Special Mission shipbuilding program office.

NASSCO is also in production on the future USNS Harvey Milk (T-AO 206), USNS Earl Warren (T-AO 207), and USNS Robert F. Kennedy (T-AO 208). The future USNS Lucy Stone (T-AO 209) and USNS Sojourner Truth (T-AO 210) are also under contract.