US Navy Accepts Third John Lewis Oiler Vessel

The US Navy has received the third John Lewis-class replenishment oiler ship, USNS Earl Warren (T-AO 207), in San Diego.

A handover ceremony took place after the vessel completed its Integrated Sea Trials to demonstrate capability and readiness prior to its in-service deployments.

The US government approved the T-AO 207’s construction alongside five other oiler platforms in 2016. The ship’s keel was laid in 2022, with the overall hull christened in January 2023.

“Delivery of the third ship in the class will bring more refueling capability directly to the fleet, including replenishment underway capacity,” US Navy Auxiliary and Special Mission Shipbuilding Program Manager John Lighthammer stated.

“The civilian mariners who crew this ship will have the tools they need to operate in often rapidly changing environments.”

USNS John Lewis (T-AO 205) sits pierside at Naval Surface Warfare Center, Port Hueneme Division (NSWC PHD), Friday, Nov. 4. The U.S. Navy fleet replenishment oiler, delivered to Military Sealift Command in July, is in the beginning months of its year-long ship qualification trials schedule and stopped by NSWC PHD for a stores resupply and minor repairs by builder representatives. The Underway Replenishment (UNREP) fuel and cargo delivery stations aboard the civilian-crewed ship use the new Electric Standard Tensioned Replenishment Alongside Method (E-STREAM) technology, designed by NSWC PHD UNREP engineers. USNS John Lewis is the first oiler to have the new E-STREAM systems on board, and the command’s UNREP team members were excited to see in person the system installed on a ship. (U.S. Navy photo by Dana Rene White/Released)
USNS John Lewis (T-AO 205). Photo: Dana Rene White/US Navy

T-AO Program

The John Lewis fleet was designed to replace the US military’s Henry J. Kaiser-class replenishment oilers in service since the 1980s.

The effort procured nine systems since its launch, with the latest order for three ships placed in 2022.

Upon their completion, the John Lewis oilers sail to maintain the supply of power, food, and dry goods for carrier strike groups, amphibious components, and other sea-based forces positioned internationally.

The Pentagon plans to expand the fleet to 20 vessels, all of which are to be operated by the Military Sealift Command.

The John Lewis Fleet

Each John Lewis replenishment platform can carry 156,000 barrels (24.8 million liters) of fuel.

It is powered by twin medium-speed diesel engines for a maximum speed of 20 knots (37 kilometers/23 miles per hour).

The 746-foot (230-meter) ship can accommodate up to 125 personnel and incorporates a flight deck for helicopters as well as dry cargo transfer rigs and multiple refueling stations.

The John Lewis vessels are armed with torpedo countermeasures, rolling airframe missiles, short-range automated guns, and several .50-caliber machine guns.

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