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    Keel Laid For Newest MSC Ship USNS Robert F. Kennedy



    Story by Sarah Cannon 

    Military Sealift Command Pacific

    Military Sealift Command Pacific’s commanding officer, Capt. Kendall Bridgewater joined Employees of Military Sealift Command, and General Dynamics NASSCO of San Diego to celebrate the keel laying of MSC’s newest ship, USNS Robert F. Kennedy (T-AO 208) at the NASSCO shipyard San Diego today.

    The time-honored tradition of the keel laying marks the official start of construction of the ship. Part of the tradition is for the sponsor to weld their initials into the keel plate of the new ship. After a pre-ceremony instruction at “Welding School,” the ship’s sponsor, Kathleen Kennedy- Townsend, the daughter of the ship’s namesake, dressed in protective equipment, took welding torch in hand and stepped into the ship’s history. The steel plate with her initials will be permanently affixed to the ship’s keel, remaining with the vessel through its time in service.

    “As Civil Service Mariners operate these ships, great Americans like Robert F. Kennedy will continue to be honored by the Mariners who sail them and the Sailors, Marines, Coastguardsman, Soldiers, Airmen, and Guardians they will support long into the future,” said Bridgewater in his remarks. “As each ship joins the fleet, our naval service will be better positioned to meet the challenges ahead.”

    The fourth ship in the John Lewis Class of fleet replenishment oilers, the ship honors Robert F. Kennedy, an American lawyer and politician who served as the 64th United States Attorney General from January 1961 to September 1964, during his brother John F. Kennedy’s presidency, where he advocated for the civil rights movement, fought against organized crime and the Mafia, and involvement in U.S. foreign policy related to Cuba. Following his tenure as Attorney General, he served as a U.S. Senator from New York. In 1968, Robert Kennedy was considered a frontrunner for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. During a campaign event in Los Angeles, in June of that year, he was assassinated. A prominent member of the Democratic Party, Robert Kennedy has come to be viewed by some historians as an icon of modern American liberalism.

    “Senator Kennedy was a champion of equality who sought to eliminate the disparities and close opportunity gaps that plagued our nation during his lifetime,” said Bridgewater, “We are proud and honored to sail a ship in his name.”

    In her remarks, Kennedy-Townsend remembered her family’s long tradition of service in the Navy.

    “My family has had a long connection to the Navy. My grandfather served in the Navy in WWII. My uncle famously served in the Navy as a lieutenant on PT-109 in WWII and my father served as a Seaman 2nd Class. My family has always believed that the Navy is a great place to serve and to learn,” said Kennedy-Townsend. “Today, as we lay the keel for this new ship, we celebrate the Navy’s commitment, our country and the commitment of this ship and the people who build it. Today, we celebrate freedom, democracy, perseverance and the willingness to work hard.”

    Following construction and christening, the ship will go through a rigorous schedule of tests and inspections before joining the MSC fleet of over 120 ships, operating throughout the world.



    Date Taken: 12.06.2022
    Date Posted: 12.06.2022 15:08
    Story ID: 434630
    Location: US

    Web Views: 285
    Downloads: 0