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Navy Secretary Mabus Announces Ship Class Named John Lewis

January 7, 2016
Press Release

All ships within the John Lewis class named for civil rights heroes

                Today Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) Ray Mabus announced Jan. 6 that the first ship of the next generation of fleet replenishment oilers (T-AO 205) will be named USNS John Lewis after the civil rights movement hero and current U.S. representative of Georgia's Fifth Congressional District.  Mabus also announced that, not only would one ship be named Rep. John Lewis, but the entire class of ships would be named the John Lewis class, and each of the ships within that class would be named in honor of one of the nation's civil rights heroes.

            The announcement was made at a ship-naming ceremony held at the Cannon House Office Building in Washington, D.C.

            "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 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. T-AO 205 will, for decades to come, serve as a visible symbol of the freedoms Representative Lewis holds dear, and his example will live on in the steel of that ship and in all those who will serve aboard her."

            "I am deeply moved that Secretary Mabus would grant me this great honor," said Rep. Lewis.  "I remember his leadership as the former governor of Mississippi.  He was more than progressive.  He was just a good and decent man.  We need more leaders like him in federal service.  When the Secretary came by my office and shared the idea with me that he would like to name a ship for me, we both teared up a bit, and I almost lost it.  This is such a magnificent vessel.  It is a great honor.  It is my hope that the USNS John Lewis and the entire class of ships commemorating civil rights heroes will inspire future generations to do all they can to serve humanity and this country."

            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.  It is likely that a room on the ship will also be dedicated to commemorating the legacy of Rep. Lewis featuring artifacts and memorabilia which tell the story of his life.  It will be manned by some people who have not yet been born and will serve as a lasting tribute to his contribution to the nation.