General Dynamics NASSCO has marked a significant milestone by christening and launching the USNS Robert F. Kennedy - the fourth vessel in the John Lewis-class fleet oiler programme for the U.S. Navy.

The launch ceremony of USNS Robert F. Kennedy was graced by prominent figures who paid tribute to the ship's namesake, Robert F. Kennedy, a U.S. Navy veteran and public servant.

In accordance with maritime tradition, the USNS's sponsor christened the vessel by breaking a champagne bottle against its hull.

The USNS Robert F. Kennedy honors Robert F. Kennedy, the U.S. Navy veteran who served as U.S. attorney general from 1961 to 1964 and as U.S. senator for New York from 1965 to 1968.

USNS Robert F. Kennedy boasts state-of-the-art features, including advanced fuel storage and delivery systems, enhanced cargo handling capabilities, and increased flexibility for fleet support operations.

The USNS Robert F. Kennedy joins the ranks of the first two ships in the class, the USNS John Lewis and the USNS Harvey Milk, which have already been delivered to the Navy.

The Kennedy is 746 feet long, and all the oilers in the John Lewis-class fleet, along with the Kennedy, have a remarkable ability to carry 162,000 barrels of diesel ship fuel, aviation fuel, and dry storage cargo.

The John Lewis-class fleet oilers are also equipped with double hulls to protect against oil spills, strengthened cargo and ballast tanks, and a basic self-defense capability, including crew-served weapons, degaussing, and Nixie Torpedo decoys

Kennedy, along with other oilers, have space, weight, and power reservations for close-in weapon systems like SeaRAMs and an anti-torpedo defense system.

The Lewis-class oilers are set to replace the aging Kaiser-class fleet replenishment oilers in the Military Sealift Command fleet.

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