Henry J. Kaiser class oiler

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USNS Big Horn (T-AO-198)
USNS Big Horn (T-AO-198)
Class overview
Name:Henry J. Kaiser
Builders:Avondale Shipyard, Inc., New Orleans, Louisiana (14 ships)
Sun Shipbuilding and Drydock Company, Chester, Pennsylvania (2 ships)
Pennsylvania Shipbuilding Company, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Tampa Shipbuilding Company, Tampa, Florida (2 ships; neither completed)
Preceded by:Cimarron class
Built:August 1984-May 1996
In service:December 1986-present
Cancelled:2 (both laid up incomplete)
Active:14 as of 12 October 2008
Laid up:3 as of 12 October 2008 (one completed ship and the two incomplete ships)
General characteristics
Class and type: Henry J. Kaiser class fleet replenishment oiler
Tonnage: 31,200 deadweight tons
Displacement: All ships: 9,500 tons light
Patuxent, Laramie, and Rappahannock: 42,000 long tons (42,674 metric tons) full load
All other ships: Variously reported as 40,700 long tons (41,353 metric tons) and as 42,382 tons full load
Length: 677 ft (206 m)
Beam: 97 ft 5 in (29.69 m)
Draft: 35 ft (11 m) maximum
Installed power: 16,000 hp (11.9 MW) per shaft
34,442 hp (25.7 MW) total sustained
Propulsion: Two medium-speed Colt-Pielstick PC4-2/2 10V-570 diesel engines, two shafts, cp propellers
Speed: 20 knots (37 km/h)
Capacity: Patuxent, Laramie, and Rappahannock: 159,000 barrels of fuel oil and jet fuel
Other ships:178,000 to 180,000 barrels of fuel oil and jet fuel
All ships: 7,400 square feet (690 m2) of dry cargo space; eight 20-foot (6.1 m) refrigerated containers with room for 128 pallets
Complement: 66 to 89 civilian personnel and 7 to 24 U.S. Navy personnel
Armament: Peacetime: none
Wartime: probably 2 x 20 mm Phalanx CIWS
Aircraft carried: None
Aviation facilities: Helicopter landing platform
Notes: Five refueling stations
Two dry cargo transfer rigs

The Henry J. Kaiser class is an American class of fleet replenishment oilers which began construction in August 1984. The class comprises eighteen underway replenishment oilers which are operated by Military Sealift Command to provide underway replenishment of fuel to United States Navy combat ships and jet fuel for aircraft aboard aircraft carriers at sea.

Technical Overview

There are stations on both sides of each ship for underway replenishment of fuel and stores. The ships in this class have a small capacity to carry and transfer fresh and frozen foods as well as other materials, and have two dry cargo transfer rigs.

Patuxent, Laramie, and Rappahannock differ from the other 15 ships in having double hulls to meet the requirements of the Oil Pollution Act of 1990. Hull separation is 6 feet (1.83 m) at the sides and 6 feet 6 inches (1.98 m) on the bottom.

Construction Program

The first ship, Henry J. Kaiser, was laid down on 22 August 1984, and construction continued until delivery of the final unit, Laramie, on 7 May 1996. Four shipyards were involved in the construction. Of the 16 completed ships, two -- John Ericsson and Kanawha -- were contracted to Sun Shipbuilding and Drydock Company of Chester, Pennsylvania, for construction, and Avondale Shipyard, Inc., of New Orleans, Louisiana, built the other 14.

Two ships of the class, Benjamin Isherwood and Henry Eckford, were cancelled prior to completion. Originally, their construction was contracted with the Pennsylvania Shipbuilding Company of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, which defaulted on the contract in 1989. Later work was performed under a new contract by the Tampa Shipbuilding Company of Tampa, Florida, a division of the American Ship Building Company. Disputes over corrective construction and materials costs between the U.S. Navy and Tampa Shipbuilding resulted in termination of the build contracts for these two vessels in 1993, with Henry Eckford 84 percent and Benjamin Isherwood 95.3 percent complete. The Navy determined that they no longer were needed as oilers, and a study of their potential conversion into ammunition ships concluded that such a conversion was cost-prohibitive. They were placed in an incomplete condition in long-term storage, were struck from the Navy List in 1997, and remain in reserve in the custody of the Maritime Administration.


The class is named for its lead unit, USNS Henry J. Kaiser (T-AO-187), which in turn is named for the American industrialist and shipbuilder Henry J. Kaiser (1882-1967). The first nine ships were named for American shipbuilders, inventors, naval architects, and aeronautical engineers who played important roles in the history of the U.S. Navy, in some cases being the first U.S. Navy ships to be named for the men. The tenth through eighteenth ships were named after American rivers, which is a more traditional naming convention for U.S. Navy oilers.


The ships are in non-commissioned service in the Military Sealift Command, with primarily civilian crews. The 16 completed ships all have seen active service since joining the fleet between 1986 and 1996, although some have spent periods out of service in reserve or in a limited operational status.


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| Henry J. Kaiser class oilers

Photo Ship Hull No. Status NVR
USNS Henry J. Kaiser (T-AO-187) Henry J. Kaiser T-AO-187 Active--Southern California Duty Oiler AO187
USNS Joshua Humphreys (T-AO-188) Joshua Humphreys T-AO-188 Inactivated 1996, returned to service 2005 AO188
USNS John Lenthall (T-AO-189) John Lenthall T-AO-189 Active AO189
USNS Andrew J. Higgins (T-AO-190) Andrew J. Higgins T-AO-190 Inactivated May 1996. Sold to the Chilean Navy May 2009. Towed to Atlantic Marine Alabama shipyard, Mobile, Alabama, September 2009 for three-month refit. Commissioned to Chilean Navy on 10 February 2010 and renamed Almirante Montt.[1] AO190
USNS Benjamin Isherwood (T-AO-191) Benjamin Isherwood T-AO-191 Cancelled when 95.3% complete,
transferred to the Maritime Administration,
laid up in the James River Reserve Fleet
USNS Henry Eckford (T-AO-192) Henry Eckford T-AO-192 Cancelled when 84% complete,
transferred to the Maritime Administration,
laid up in the James River Reserve Fleet
USNS Walter S. Diehl (T-AO-193) Walter S. Diehl T-AO-193 Active AO193
USNS John Ericsson (T-AO-194) John Ericsson T-AO-194 Active AO194
USNS Leroy Grumman (T-AO-195) Leroy Grumman T-AO-195 Active AO195
USNS Kanawha (T-AO-196) Kanawha T-AO-196 Active AO196
USNS Pecos (T-AO-197) Pecos T-AO-197 Active AO197
USNS Big Horn (T-AO-198) Big Horn T-AO-198 Active AO198
USNS Tippecanoe (T-AO-199) Tippecanoe T-AO-199 Active AO199
USNS Guadalupe (T-AO-200) Guadalupe T-AO-200 Active AO200
USNS Patuxent (T-AO-201) Patuxent T-AO-201 Active AO201
USNS Yukon (T-AO-202) Yukon T-AO-202 Active AO202
USNS Laramie (T-AO-203) Laramie T-AO-203 Active AO203
USNS Rappahannock (T-AO-204) Rappahannock T-AO-204 Active AO204