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Shipyard’s Backlog Grows to 10

The Navy has exercised another option to buy a T-AKE-class cargo ship from National Steel and Shipbuilding Co.

The contract for the 689-foot ship is worth $317 million, shipyard parent General Dynamics announced Jan. 31.

The ship will be the ninth in the T-AKE series. In the Navy’s abbreviation system, T-AKE stands for an auxiliary ship run by a primarily civilian crew with the capability of hauling dry cargo and ammunition.

The value of the Navy contract has now grown to $2.8 billion.

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National Steel, which goes by the name Nassco, now has a backlog of 10 ships, and expects to keep approximately 1,000 skilled employees in their jobs through 2009. The Navy has options to order three additional T-AKE ships under the current contract.

In other news, the Navy announced the name of the third cargo ship in the series, which is now under construction. It will be called the USNS Alan Shepard. Shepard, a Navy pilot who died in 1998, was the first American in space, and flew both Mercury and Apollo missions. He retired as a rear admiral.

The first two ships also take their names from American explorers: USNS Lewis and Clark and USNS Sacagawea. Lewis and Clark will be delivered to the Navy during the second quarter. Sacagawea will be launched in May.

, Brad Graves

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