Lewis and Clark Class Dry Cargo Resupply

Warships are cool. Warships are sexy. But if you want those warships to project power beyond your shores, you have to keep them resupplied. Let’s look at some of the ways the US Navy keeps its ships supplied. We’ll start with the Lewis and Clark class Dry Cargo Resupply ships, known by the hull code T-AKE.

The Lewis and Clark class are 689 feet long, 105.6 feet in beam, and have a design draft of 29.9 feet. They displace 41,000 tons and are designed to handle up to 6,005 tonnes or 783,000 cubic feet of dry cargo, plus 2,390 tonnes or 18,000 barrels of fuel. of the 6,005 tonnes of dry cargo, 1,557 tonnes are refrigerated storage. Dry cargo can include ammunition, frozen and dry food, consumables, and spare parts. The T-AKEs are equipped with US Navy Underway Replenishment equipment, and can resupply any US or allied vessel that is equipped with same.

The T-AKEs are all-electric ships, generating power with four diesel generators. They have one electrically-driven screw, plus a bow thruster for maneuvering in port. The electric drive system can propel the Lewis and Clark class ships at speeds of up to 20 knots. Electric power is also used to run the Automated Storage and Retrieval System (ASRS). ASRS can work with any standard container, will retrieve containers in weather up to sea state 5, and will survive undamaged in weather up to sea state 9.

The Lewis and Clark class have a crew of 124 civilians and 11 naval personnel. A mostly civilian crew is what gives the ships the “T-” prefix on the hull type classification. At present, the T-AKEs do not have any active means of self defense, but there is space and topweight available for CIWS if this is desired in the future.

Also of note is that the T-AKEs are generally built to civilian standards, with some additions for increased survivability. This was to reduce costs, bypass any potential bottlenecks, and to produce a design that would also have a lot of marketability to the civilian merchant marine.

5 thoughts on “Lewis and Clark Class Dry Cargo Resupply

  1. Chris Bradshaw

    Eh, they’re not as fast, survivable, or cool as their predecessors, the Sacramentos. Your slow, civilian-standard Lewis and Clark without any CIWS is more or less fine for supplying a strike group that’s beating up on stone age ISIS-goons. But, if you want to penetrate a peer state A2AD zone, your carrier battle group is going to want something fast and capable of swatting a missile or two. That’s where the new-ish Supply-Class AOE ship comes in, but they’re still slower than the Sacramentos, under-armed, and there’s only 4 of them, which will rapidly be targeted in a real war against a peer state.

    I think we’re losing out on capability relative to what we had between the 60s and early 2000s. What a shame.

    Reply
    1. parvusimperator Post author

      Haha, we’ll get to the Supply-class (what a stupid, stupid name). Also one of the roles of the L&Cs is to refill the Supply-class at some “safe” transition point, per doctrine somewhere. Of course, the enemy gets a vote too.

      What I haven’t dug up yet is how far into an unsafe zone the Supply-class are meant to go. More to follow.

      And are the Sacramentos really the L&C predecessors, or the Supply-class predecessors?

  2. Chris Bradshaw

    Sacramentos are technically Supply-class predecessors, but neither modern class really has any survivability against anyone more sophisticated than the Taliban.
    The problem with figuring out how far into an A2AD zone fleet auxiliaries should be operating is that the USN hasn’t really been conducting realistic war games with multiple carrier battle groups against a proxy China, and if they have, they haven’t been releasing their notes.

    Completely agreed on the absurdity of the name.

    Reply
    1. parvusimperator Post author

      I mean, you can ADD CIWS. Beyond a couple CIWS/SRBOC/ECM, they’re in the wrong place.

      Why the concern about speed though? We’re talking about a five not difference in top speeds. They don’t have to keep up with a carrier trying to generate wind, and that’s not going to let them outrun a silkworm any better.

  3. Chris Bradshaw

    You’re not trying to outrun Silkworms or Flankers, you’re trying to outrun Kilo subs. More precisely, you’re trying to give SSKs that are trying to get in position for an intercept and ambush the smallest possible window of time and space to line up an attack. More knots is good for this.

    And yes, in a long war you can always slap on CIWS, but you go to war with the stuff you have, not the stuff you sail back to a suddenly overcrowded shipyard to refit for. By the time a ship heads home and gets CIWS, plus the crew training to use it, the decisive phase of a modern naval war could already be over.

    Reply

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