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General Dynamics - Launch of US Navy's Newest Supply Ship

General Dynamics : 15 May, 2007  (Company News)
General Dynamics NASSCO, a wholly owned subsidiary of General Dynamics today launched the U.S. Navy's newest resupply ship, USNS Richard E. Byrd (T-AKE 4). The ship is named in honor of the Navy Rear Admiral and Medal of Honor recipient who explored the North and South Poles by air.
The Tuesday evening ceremony took place at the NASSCO shipyard. Secretary of the Navy Donald Winter spoke at the event. Rear Admiral Robert Reilly Jr., commander of the Navy's Military Sealift Command (MSC), was the ceremony's principal speaker. Mrs. Bolling Byrd Clarke, Byrd's oldest daughter and the ship's sponsor, christened the ship by breaking the traditional bottle of champagne against its bow.

A 1912 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and a naval aviator, Byrd (1888- 1957) explored the North Pole region by air in May 1926. He received the Medal of Honor for the flight. Two and a half years later, Byrd began his first expedition to the Antarctica. He commanded the first flight over the South Pole in November 1929. Byrd completed four more expeditions to the Antarctic continent over the next 26 years, including the 1955 'Operation Deep Freeze' expedition that established the permanent U.S. facilities at the South Pole.

USNS Richard E. Byrd is the fourth ship of an expected class of 11 T-AKE dry cargo-ammunition ships for the Navy. NASSCO began constructing the 689-foot-long ship in February 2006. The ship is scheduled to be delivered to the Navy in November. The T-AKE class incorporates international marine technologies and commercial ship-design features, including an integrated electric-drive propulsion system, to minimize operating costs over its projected 40-year service life.

When the Richard E. Byrd joins the fleet, its primary mission will be to deliver more than 10,000 tons of food, ammunition, fuel and other provisions to combat ships at sea. It is the second navy ship to be named in honor of the polar explorer. The first ship, USS Richard E. Byrd (DDG 23), was a Charles F. Adams-class guided missile destroyer that served from 1964 to 1990.
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