General Dynamics NASSCO Launches USNS Washington Chambers on San Diego’s Working Waterfront — Press Release

by: Matthew Potter
September 13, 2010

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General Dynamics NASSCO Launches USNS Washington Chambers on San Diego’s Working Waterfront

Shipyard Celebrates Man of Unique Vision Who Changed Naval Warfare Forever

SAN DIEGO, Sept. 11 /PRNewswire/ — Sept. General Dynamics NASSCO, a wholly owned subsidiary of General Dynamics (NYSE:GD) , today launched the U.S. Navy’s newest supply ship, USNS Washington Chambers (T-AKE 11), during a christening ceremony at the shipyard on the city’s working waterfront. The ship is named in honor of Captain Washington Chambers (1856-1934), the innovative U.S. Navy officer who oversaw the growth of the Navy’s fledgling aviation program. His visionary developments enabled the launching of airplanes from Navy ships only a few short years after man’s first flight at Kitty Hawk, an advancement that made Chambers a pivotal figure in naval aviation’s difficult but ultimately successful evolution from a force of relatively simple planes to today’s sophisticated aircraft.

“Just as Washington Chambers saw the need for modernization in the field of naval aviation, so too does our team embrace the need for change in our endeavors if we are to be successful when confronted with future challenges,” said Fred Harris, president of NASSCO. “This morning’s ceremony is the culmination of thousands of individual efforts by the more than six thousand men and women of the General Dynamics NASSCO-Navy shipbuilding team who are working hard on improvements to meet present and emerging threats to our national security.

“The Washington Chambers represents the latest result of aggressive steps NASSCO is taking to adopt a culture of continuous improvement use to maximize efficiency and deliver affordable vessels to our customers. These steps are taking the form of initiatives focused on first-time quality, on-time delivery and under budget performance, thus improving the final product and increasing NASSCO’s ability to compete. As a result, the Chambers will be built with 58 percent fewer man-hours than was required to build Lewis and Clark, the first ship of the class,” Harris said.

More than 1,000 attendees cheered as the ship’s sponsor, Mrs. Loretta Penn, christened the ship by breaking the traditional bottle of champagne against the bow before the 689-foot-long vessel slid into the waters of San Diego Bay. Penn donated a collection of 62 books for the ship’s library, enhanced by the addition of Chambers’s biography From Torpedoes to Aviation: Washington Irving Chambers and Technological Innovation in the New Navy: 1876 to 1913, signed by the author and presented to Mrs. Penn and the ship’s crew during the launch festivities.

“Washington Irving Chambers was the quintessential officer for the modern, professional, United States Navy that was emerging at the end of the 19th century: he was smart, forward-looking, operationally proficient and technically savvy,” said Rear Admiral Richard J. O’Hanlon, Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic, the ceremony’s principal speaker in honoring the ship’s namesake. “Chambers lived in uncertain times, against the backdrop of a Navy undergoing a great deal of change. He was not content with the status quo, but rather looked for ways to improve the fleet in which he served – from boat launching systems to torpedo designs, from designs for an all-big-gun battleship to improvements in shipyard management.

“Perhaps his most significant contributions to our modern navy were toward the end of his career, when he was assigned to ‘look into’ naval aviation by the Secretary of the Navy. The ultimate results of that assignment changed naval warfare forever. Visionary that he was, Chambers soon saw the potential of this emerging technology, and he worked tirelessly to convince others of the value of aviation to a modern navy. Many did not share his vision.

“He fought an uphill battle for support and funding. Nevertheless, he made things happen and became a central and pivotal figure in Naval aviation’s difficult but ultimately successful evolution from a force of a few relatively primitive airplanes to our current force of the most sophisticated, lethal and combat proven aircraft the world has ever seen,” said O’Hanlon.

USNS Washington Chambers is the eleventh ship of the Lewis and Clark (T-AKE) class of dry cargo-ammunition ships for the Navy, and the first Navy ship to be named after Washington Chambers. The Navy’s new class of replenishment ships has been named to honor legendary pioneers and explorers. NASSCO began constructing the Washington Chambers in March 19, 2009 and is scheduled to deliver it to the Navy’s Military Sealift Command in the first quarter of 2011. When the Washington Chambers joins the fleet, its primary mission will be to deliver nearly 10,000 tons of food, ammunition, fuel and other provisions to combat ships at sea.

General Dynamics NASSCO employs more than 3,700 people and is the only major ship construction yard on the West Coast of the United States. NASSCO has delivered ten T-AKE ships to the Navy and is under contract to build four additional T-AKE ships, including the Washington Chambers, for a total class of 14 vessels. Additional information on NASSCO can be found at

General Dynamics, headquartered in Falls Church, Va., employs approximately 91,000 people worldwide. The company is a market leader in business aviation; land and expeditionary combat systems, armaments and munitions; shipbuilding and marine systems; and information systems and technologies. More information about General Dynamics is available online at

Source: General Dynamics NASSCO

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