General Dynamics NASSCO was awarded $1.4 billion contract modifications to construct a sixth Expeditionary Sea Base Ship (ESB 8) and two additional John Lewis-class fleet oilers (T-AO 211, 212) for U.S. Navy.
This award is in addition to the $600 million already received for long-lead materials. T-AO 213, an additional oiler the Navy can purchase, is also available under the contract modification. This would bring the potential total value of the four ships to $2.7 billion.
The construction of the four ships will begin in the third quarter of 2023 and will continue through 2027.
Dave Carver, President of General Dynamics NASSCO, stated that NASSCO is committed to working with the Navy to deliver the ships needed for the fleet. “As partners with the Navy, we remain dedicated to ensuring the success of both of these programs to help enhance and expand the Navy’s forward presence and warfighting capabilities while providing sustained growth for our workforce.”
The Navy awarded NASSCO a contract in 2011 to design and construct the first two ships of the Mobile Landing Platform program. They were USNS Montford Point (USNS John Glenn). From there, the program evolved to include USS Lewis B. Puller and USS Hershel Williams (ESB 3), USS Miguel Keith and USS Hershel Williams (ESB 4), USS John L. Canley (ESB 6), USS Robert E. Simanek (7), both of which were ESBs.
ESB ships can support multiple maritime-based missions such as Air Mine Counter Measures, Special Operations Forces and limited crisis response. The 784-foot ships can be used as a mobile seabase and have a 52,000-square-foot flight deck that supports MH-53, MH-60 tilt-rotor, MV-22 tiltor and H1 aircraft operations.
Currently, construction is underway on the future USS John L. Canley and USS Robert E. Simanek.
In 2016, the Navy gave NASSCO a contract to design the John Lewis-class fleet oilers. These vessels, measuring 742 feet, are intended to transport fuel to U.S. Navy ships at sea. They have a full load displacement (49,850 tons), the capacity to carry 157,000 barrels of oil and significant amounts of dry cargo and provide aviation capability while traveling at speeds of up to 20 knots.
In July 2022, the first ship, USNS John Lewis (T AO 205), was delivered to the U.S Navy. The USNS Harvey Milk, USNS Earl Warren, and USNS Robert F. Kennedy are currently being built. The six ships will all be named after civil rights leaders.
The U.S. Navy’s Military Sealift Command operates both classes of ships.