US Navy christens future USNS Harvey Milk T-AO 206 John Lewis-class replenishment oiler

According to information published by the United States Navy on November 6, 2021, the U.S. Navy has christened the John Lewis-class replenishment oiler, the future USNS Harvey Milk (T-AO 206), during a ceremony that was held on Saturday, November 6, 2021, in San Diego, California.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 A photo illustration announcing that Military Sealift Command fleet oiler, T-AO 206, will be named USNS Harvey Milk. (U.S. Navy Photo Illustration/Released)

The USNS Harvey Milk will be the second of the John Lewis-class of underway replenishment oilers that will be operated by the U.S. Military Sealift Command to support ships of the United States Navy. The class will comprise twenty oilers which will be operated by Military Sealift Command to provide underway replenishment of fuel and limited amounts of dry cargo to United States Navy Carrier Strike Groups, Amphibious ready groups, and other surface forces to allow them to operate worldwide.

In June 2016, the Navy awarded a $3.2 billion contract to General Dynamics NASSCO in San Diego to design and construct the first six ships of the Future Fleet Replenishment Ship, the John Lewis-class (T-AO 205), with construction commencing in September 2018. The Navy plans to procure 20 ships of the new class.

The John Lewis-class ships are based on commercial design standards and will recapitalize the current T-AO 187-class fleet replenishment oilers to provide underway fuel replenishment to Navy ships at sea. Fleet replenishment oilers are part of the Navy's Combat Logistics Force.

The new replenishment tankers will have the capacity to carry 156,000 barrels of oil, including biofuels, and will be fitted with a helideck with the capacity to conduct refueling for helicopters. The new ship can hold more dry cargo than its predecessor.

The John Lewis-class ship can be armed with a close-in weapon system (CIWS) or SeaRAM (Rolling Airframe Missile) anti-ship missile defense system for detecting and destroying anti-ship cruise missiles. It can be also armed with a Nixie torpedo countermeasure system to counter torpedo attacks. An advanced degaussing system (ADS) will be installed to protect the ship from modern magnetically fused sea mines. The John Lewis-class can also carry crew-served weaponry to offer protection against fast-attack craft.