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Sea Transportation: New Ships For the Servron
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July 28, 2007: The U.S. Navy is so pleased with the performance of its new fleet of T-AKE supply ships (which replaces a larger fleet of separate ammo, cargo and fuel ships), that it has ordered another. Eventually, the navy hopes to get a dozen of them, each costing about half a billion dollars. The ships are built mostly to commercial standards, which keeps costs down, and speeds up construction. Currently, six are in service and four are on order. The T-AKE is the grandchild of the Servron. Developed out of necessity during World War II, because of a lack of sufficient forward bases in the vast Pacific, the service squadrons (Servron) became a permanent fixture in the U.S. Navy. Ships now normally stay at sea for up to six months at a time, being resupplied at sea by a Servron. New technologies were developed to support the effective use of the seagoing supply service. Few other navies have been able to match this capability, mainly because of the expense of the Servron ships and the training required to do at sea replenishment.

 

The twelve T-AKEs will replace 16 existing supply ships that are reaching the end of their 35 year service life this year. The T-AKE is a 41,000 ton (displacement) ship that is 689 feet long and move along at 32 kilometers an hour. The crew consists of 99 civilians and eleven military personnel. There are berths for 209 people on the ship. The ship can carry 7,000 tons of cargo and 2,380 tons of fuel (nearly a million gallons). Two helicopters (CH-46 or MH-60) can be carried. The first ship of the class is the "Lewis and Clark."

 

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eldnah       10/19/2007 2:03:18 PM
T-AKEs illustrate what I believe is a flaw in the current USN shipbuilding philosophy, building fewer, larger and allegedly more capable replacements. I understand there are economies of size and cost involved but fewer ships limits the number of places one can be and the greater loss of capability for each ship lost. Given theses are warships one has to accept some attrition in warfare but the fact that the USN has not lost a ship from enemy action since WWII (OK, we may never know what really happened to the Scorpion) may have led to an overly optimistic view of future attrition. I wonder if industry was on a wartime footing and fully mobilized how long it would take in 2008 to build a CVN, DDG, FFG, SSN, or T-AKE  or would the USN build less complex/capable ships to make up wartime losses. Any thoughts?
 
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