The US Navy has christened and launched the tenth Lewis and Clark Class dry cargo / ammunition ship USNS Charles Drew (T-AKE-10) at the General Dynamics NASSCO shipyard in San Diego.

The ship was named in honour of Dr Charles Drew, who developed techniques for blood storage and applied his knowledge to developing large-scale blood banks during World War II, consequently saving thousands of lives worldwide.

The US Navy’s Military Sealift Command (MSC) received the ninth dry cargo ship of the class, USNS Matthew Perry (T-AKE 9), on 24 February 2010 after completing a series of tests and trials from August 2009.

Perry will operate in the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean and is expected to conduct missions for MSC at the end of 2010 while Drew is scheduled to be delivered to the MSC fleet in 2011.

The Lewis and Clark Class dry cargo ships enable naval forces to stay at sea, on station and combat ready, for extended periods of time.

The ships can accommodate a crew of 135 and cruise at a maximum speed of 20kt.