The U.S. Navy has convinced Congress to buy a
another T-AKE fleet supply ship. This makes 14 of the new ships in service or
on order. The U.S. Navy is pleased with the performance of the T-AKE (which
replaces a larger fleet of separate ammo, cargo and fuel ships). Each T-AKE
costs 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 eight 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. There, the service squadrons (Servron) became a permanent fixture in the U.S. Navy. U.S. Navy
ships still sometimes 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. When a Servron is not available,
ships must return to port for fuel and other supplies.
The fourteen 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."