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Author Topic:   Navy names USNS Wally Schirra
Robert Pearlman
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From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 03-04-2008 01:37 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
U.S. Department of Defense release
Navy Secretary Names Two New Auxiliary Dry Cargo Ships

Secretary of the Navy Dr. Donald C. Winter announced the naming of the seventh and eighth Military Sealift Command ships of the Lewis and Clark-class Auxiliary Dry Cargo ships (T-AKE) as Carl Brashear and Wally Schirra.

The selection of Carl Brashear, designated T-AKE 7, honors Master Chief Boatswain's Mate (Master Diver) Carl M. Brashear, who joined the United States Navy in 1948. He was a pioneer in the Navy as the first black deep-sea diver, the first black Master Diver and the first U.S. Navy diver to be restored to full active duty as an amputee, the result of a leg injury he sustained during a salvage operation. After 31 years of service, Brashear officially retired from the U.S. Navy on April 1, 1979. Brashear was the subject of the 2000 movie "Men of Honor" starring Cuba Gooding Jr.

The selection of Wally Schirra, designated T-AKE 8, was chosen in honor of Captain Walter "Wally" Schirra. Schirra was a U.S. Naval Academy graduate and former Navy test pilot who served in both World War II and Korean War.

On Oct. 3, 1962, Schirra became the fifth American in space and is honored as one of the original seven Mercury astronauts. He holds the distinction of being the only astronaut to fly in each of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs. Schirra officially retired from the U.S. Navy and NASA in 1969. Schirra and the other original Mercury 7 astronauts were the subject of the 1983 movie "The Right Stuff".

The naming of Carl Brashear and Wally Schirra continues the tradition of the T-AKE Lewis and Clark-class of honoring legendary pioneers and explorers.

The ship's design is 689 feet in length, has an overall beam of 106 feet, a navigational draft of 30 feet, and displaces approximately 42,000 tons. Powered by a single-shaft diesel-electric propulsion system, the ship can reach a speed of 20 knots. As part of the Naval Fleet Auxiliary Force, the ship will be designated USNS. The term stands for United States Naval Ship. Unlike their United States Ship (USS) counterparts, USNS vessels are manned primarily by civil service and civilian mariners working for the U.S. Navy Military Sealift Command.
The Navy christened T-AKE 3 the USNS Alan Shepardin December 2006.

Robert Pearlman
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Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 04-15-2008 12:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
General Dynamics release
General Dynamics NASSCO Lays Keel of USNS Wally Schirra

Construction of Ninth T-AKE Ship Begins Next Week

General Dynamics NASSCO, a wholly owned subsidiary of General Dynamics, today laid the keel for USNS Wally Schirra, the eighth dry cargo-ammunition ship in the U.S. Navy's T-AKE program. Secretary of the Navy Donald C. Winter recently named the ship in honor of the late Navy captain and original NASA pioneer. The Wally Schirra is scheduled to be delivered to the Navy in the third quarter of 2009.

On April 21, NASSCO will begin construction of the ninth ship of the Lewis and Clark (T-AKE) class. The ship will be named later and is scheduled to be delivered to the Navy in the first quarter of 2010.

"From keel-laying to delivery, NASSCO is significantly reducing the T-AKE build cycle with each subsequent ship and providing substantial cost savings to the Navy," said Frederick J. Harris, president of General Dynamics NASSCO. "What took 26 months to complete on T-AKE 1 is now projected to take 16 months for T-AKE 8 and 9. NASSCO recognizes that the timely delivery of these high-quality ships helps the Navy improve its global combat logistics capabilities."

NASSCO has delivered the first four ships of the Lewis and Clark class and will deliver the fifth ship, USNS Robert E. Peary (T-AKE 5), in June. USNS Amelia Earhart (T-AKE 6) was launched on April 6 and USNS Carl Brashear (T-AKE 7) is under construction at the San Diego shipyard.

The T-AKE ship incorporates international marine technologies and commercial ship-design features, including an integrated electric-drive propulsion system to minimize operating costs over its projected 40-year service life. The primary mission of the ships is to deliver as much as 10,000 tons of food, ammunition, fuel and other provisions to combat ships at sea. NASSCO has contracts to build 11 T-AKE ships. The Navy has options to build three additional ships for a total class of 14 vessels.

Robert Pearlman
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From: Houston, TX
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posted 03-03-2009 04:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
General Dynamics release
The christening and launch of USNS Wally Schirra (T-AKE 8) will take place on Sunday morning, March 8, 2009, and will be open to the public. The shipyard main gate opens at 6 a.m. The hour-long ceremony begins at 7 a.m. The shipyard is located at the intersection of 28th Street and E. Harbor Drive in San Diego. The Harborside station on the blue line of the San Diego Trolley is located directly across the street from the main gate.

Photo credit: Francis French

Robert Pearlman
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From: Houston, TX
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posted 03-05-2009 11:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
U.S. Department of Defense release
Navy To Christen USNS Wally Schirra

The Navy will launch and christen dry cargo/ammunition ship USNS Wally Schirra, Sunday, March 8, 2009, during a 7 a.m. PDT ceremony at the General Dynamics NASSCO shipyard in San Diego, Calif.

Continuing the Lewis and Clark-class (T-AKE) tradition of honoring legendary pioneers and explorers, the Navy's newest underway replenishment ship recognizes Walter "Wally" Schirra Jr., a U.S. Naval Academy graduate and former Navy test pilot who served in both World War II and the Korean War. On Oct. 3, 1962, Schirra became the fifth American in space and is honored as one of the original seven Mercury astronauts. He holds the distinction of being the only astronaut to fly in each of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo space programs. Schirra officially retired from the Navy and NASA in 1969.

NASA astronaut and Navy Capt. Lee M. E. Morin will deliver the ceremony's principal address. Serving as ship's sponsor, Josephine Schirra will christen the ship in honor of her late husband. The launching ceremony will include the time-honored Navy tradition of the sponsor breaking a bottle of champagne across the bow to formally christen the ship.

USNS Wally Schirra is the eighth ship of the T-AKE class, a program of up to 14 ships, the first 11 of which will serve as combat logistics force ships and the last three of which are expected to be part of the Maritime Prepositioning Force (Future). As a combat logistics force ship, USNS Wally Schirra will help the Navy maintain a worldwide forward presence by delivering ammunition, food, fuel, and other dry cargo to U.S. and allied ships at sea.

As part of Military Sealift Command's Naval Fleet Auxiliary Force, Wally Schirra is designated as a United States Naval Ship and will be crewed by 124 civil service mariners and 11 Navy sailors. The ship is designed to operate independently for extended periods at sea and can carry two helicopters and additional military personnel to conduct vertical replenishment. The ship is 689 feet in length, has an overall beam of 106 feet, a navigational draft of 30 feet, displaces approximately 42,000 tons, and is capable of reaching a speed of 20 knots using a single-shaft, diesel-electric propulsion system.

FFrench
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Posts: 3093
From: San Diego
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posted 03-08-2009 07:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FFrench     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It has been an incredible two days of events here in San Diego surrounding the launch of the USNS Wally Schirra. My deepest thanks to the Schirra family for inviting me and my wife to the launch and all the surrounding festivities.

It was a very impressive lineup of guests from all aspects of Wally's life - including, from the space years, Bill and Valerie Anders, Scott and Patty Carpenter, Jim and Marilyn Lovell, Tom Stafford, Suzi Cooper, Chuck Friedlander, John Healey, Dale Myers, Dee O'Hara, Laura Shepard Churchley and her sister Julie. Plus of course, Jo, Suzi and Marty Schirra. I had the honor of being seated with Healey and Myers for most of the events, who had fascinating stories to tell.

Current NASA astronaut (and Navy Captain) Lee Morin was the principal speaker just prior to the launch, and gave one of the most moving and personal speeches I have ever heard a current NASA astronaut give. Anders, Carpenter, Lovell and Stafford also shared their personal impressions of their colleague, both moving and humorous.

The launch itself, taking place as dawn broke over San Diego bay and the tide was highest, was just as spectacular as the launch of the USNS Alan Shepard I had witnessed a few years ago. Except, this time, all agreed that Wally was pulling one last "Gotcha." Jo christened the ship with a bottle of champagne broken over the bow, and then... the ship did not move. It was so cold this morning, apparently, that the grease on the runners was too tacky. Very, very slowly, the ship inched (literally) away from the viewers, with Laura giving it a couple of playful shoves of encouragement. Then, after a number of people remarked that, in classic Wally fashion, Schirra was not going to launch "until I am good and ready, dammit," the immense ship picked up speed, and with a blast of its horn and a colorful display of streamers it slid into the bay. Watching something the size of a city block race away from you like that is an unforgettable experience. I took some video, which I plan to post here, along with some photos.

It was a weekend of suitable Schirra-esqe levity all around, and held a special surprise for me. Looking in the formal program brochure, and at the short biography of Schirra, I was amazed to find the following line..."He was also a major contributor to the 2007 book, In the Shadow of the Moon, which captured his final published thoughts on his life and career."

To have this mentioned in a brief summary of his entire life was incredibly special.

FFrench
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From: San Diego
Registered: Feb 2002

posted 03-08-2009 07:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FFrench     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Everyone agreed that to formally name the ship "Wally," and not "Walter," was a good decision.

The ship pre-dawn about an hour before launch.

Space ship or ocean ship, there is a countdown clock...

As dawn broke, four of Wally's cohorts gathered...
(L-R: Bill Anders, Tom Stafford, Jim Lovell, Scott Carpenter)

FFrench
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From: San Diego
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posted 03-08-2009 07:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FFrench     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Lee Morin gives a moving speech.

Dee O'Hara and Dale Myers listen.

(L-R) Jo Schirra, Suzy Schirra, Laura Shepard Churchley and Lee Morin prepare to christen the ship.

FFrench
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Posts: 3093
From: San Diego
Registered: Feb 2002

posted 03-08-2009 08:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FFrench     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

The ship slips into the bay.

Marty, Jo and Suzy Schirra. You can see the ship beginning to turn in the background, and just how immense it is.
Dee O'Hara with actor Mark Harmon, who played Schirra in "From the Earth to the Moon", and who also attended the launch.
Carpenter, Lovell, Anders and Stafford share fond memories of their colleague.

FFrench
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Posts: 3093
From: San Diego
Registered: Feb 2002

posted 03-08-2009 08:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FFrench     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm not a collector, but know that many of you are, so thought this might be of interest from this weekend's ship launch.

Firstly, collectibles probably not available to the public. For the two catered food events, some honest-to-goodness Wally Schirra chocolate. For one event, an entire bar of the stuff:

And for another, a small chocolate medallion with image on it:

Also, probably not available to the public, but I saw a number of the shipyard crew wearing different-colored shirts like this, with "Crew" on the sleeve.

Now, available for sale to those attending the launch, they had Schirra-ship-themed polo shirts (men and women's, many different sizes, but only one color), and mugs too:

Also, baseball caps:

The polo shirt is being showcased here by our lovely male model Bill Anders:

I asked at the shipyard if these items (polo shirts, mugs and hats) would be available for others after the event, and I was told yes. The person who can give information about / take orders for them is:

Melina Hadfield, M/S 20F, General Dynamics NASSCO, 2798 Harbor Drive, San Diego, CA 92113, or melina.hadfield@nassco.com.

Robert Pearlman
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From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 03-12-2009 02:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here is the USNS Wally Schirra insignia, courtesy Francis French.

ejectr
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Posts: 1488
From: Brimfield, MA
Registered: Mar 2002

posted 08-08-2009 09:17 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ejectr   Click Here to Email ejectr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Naval Sea Systems Command Public Affairs
Future USNS Wally Schirra Completes Acceptance Trials

The future USNS Wally Schirra (T-AKE 8) completed Acceptance Trials Aug. 6, sailing from and returning to the General Dynamics NASSCO shipyard in San Diego.

The future USNS Wally Schirra is the eighth ship of the Lewis and Clark-class to be presented to the Navy's Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) for acceptance. This is the final major milestone prior to delivery to the Navy and the first and only time the ship will go to sea prior to her crew moving aboard. During acceptance trials, the dry cargo/ammunition ship successfully demonstrated a variety of systems including main propulsion, engineering, ship control systems and crew support.

"The successful completion of acceptance trials is a major step towards bringing the ship into the fleet," said Frank McCarthey, the T-AKE-class program manager for the Navy's Program Executive Office for Ships (PEO Ships). "The T-AKE program continues to deliver high quality ships to the fleet on cost and ahead of schedule."

NASSCO continues to make substantial reductions in labor hours from hull to hull on the program, and it has invested significant capital in the yard over the last several years. T-AKEs have been delivering approximately one to two months early, with future ships delivering even earlier as the program compresses the overall build profile. Wally Schirra is scheduled to deliver Sept. 1, more than a month ahead of the contract delivery date.

The T-AKE program has contract options for up to 14 ships with 12 ships fully under contract. To date, seven ships of the T-AKE class have been delivered, the last of which was USNS Carl Brashear (T-AKE 7) on March 4.

As a combat logistics force ship, Wally Schirra will help the Navy maintain a worldwide forward presence by delivering ammunition, food, fuel and other dry cargo to U.S. and allied ships at sea. The ship is designed to operate independently for extended periods at sea and can carry and support two helicopters. T-AKE 8 was launched and christened March 8 at the General Dynamics NASSCO shipyard in San Diego.

Continuing the Lewis and Clark-class tradition of honoring legendary pioneers and explorers, the Navy's newest underway replenishment ship recognizes Walter "Wally" Schirra Jr., a U.S. Naval Academy graduate and former Navy test pilot who served in both World War II and the Korean War. Schirra also holds the distinction of being the only astronaut to fly in each of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo space programs.

PEO Ships is responsible for the development and acquisition of U.S. Navy surface ships and is currently managing the design and construction of a wide range of ship classes and small boats and craft. These platforms range from major warships such as frontline surface combatants and amphibious assault ships to air-cushioned landing craft, oceanographic research ships and special warfare craft. PEO Ships has delivered 32 major warships and hundreds of small boats and craft from more than 30 shipyards and boat builders across the United States.

ejectr
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From: Brimfield, MA
Registered: Mar 2002

posted 09-05-2009 02:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ejectr   Click Here to Email ejectr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Military Sealift Command Public Affairs
MSC Accepts Navy's Newest Combat Logistics Ship - USNS Wally Schirra

Military Sealift Command (MSC) accepted delivery of dry cargo/ammunition ship USNS Wally Schirra (T-AKE 8) in San Diego Sept. 1. The ship was built by General Dynamics NASSCO.

Schirra, named in honor of astronaut Walter "Wally" Schirra, is the eighth ship in the Lewis and Clark-class of underway replenishment ships. These ships – called T-AKEs – deliver ammunition, provisions, stores, spare parts, potable water and petroleum products to the Navy's underway carrier and expeditionary strike groups allowing them to stay at sea, on station and combat ready for extended periods of time.

"Not only have the T-AKEs greatly improved MSC's ability to deliver vital supplies to our Navy's deployed strike groups worldwide, but the flexibility in operations of this new class of ships has also enabled us to support a range of other missions," said Capt. Jerome Hamel, commanding officer of MSC's office in San Diego, Sealift Logistics Command Pacific. "For example, USNS Richard Byrd 9T-AKE 4) is currently deployed on a humanitarian and civic assistance mission in the Western Pacific for the U.S. Pacific Command."

In September, the 689-foot Schirra will go on a short "shakedown cruise" where the ship's crew will test a range of shipboard operations. Schirra is anticipated to begin conducting missions for MSC in May 2010.

Schirra is crewed by 124 civil service mariners working for MSC and 11 Sailors who provide operational support and supply coordination. When needed, Schirra can also carry a helicopter detachment.

The Navy expects to build 14 T-AKEs, which are replacing some of MSC's aging, single-mission ships such as Kilauea-class ammunition ships and Mars- and Sirius-class combat stores ships that are nearing the end of their service lives.

MSC operates approximately 110 noncombatant, civilian-crewed ships that replenish U.S. Navy ships, conduct specialized missions, strategically preposition combat cargo at sea around the world and move military cargo and supplies used by deployed U.S. forces and coalition partners.

FFrench
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Posts: 3093
From: San Diego
Registered: Feb 2002

posted 10-07-2009 09:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FFrench     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I had the great pleasure today of being the guest of the captain aboard the USNS Wally Schirra. By kind invitation of the shipbuilders, they asked if I would be willing to donate a copy of both "Into That Silent Sea" and "In the Shadow of the Moon" (which together cover all of Wally’s space flights) to the ship's library. I was happy to do so. It was wonderful to get a tour of the ship -- an incredible piece of engineering.

See here for discussion of the U.S. Navy's naming ships for astronauts.

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