No. 021-M
MEMORANDUM FOR CORRESPONDENTS                   January 27, 1994

     Secretary of the Navy John H. Dalton announced today that a
new class of sealift ships will be named for the entertainer Bob
Hope.  USNS Bob Hope will be the lead ship in the new Bob Hope
class of sealift ships being built by Avondale Industries, Inc.,
New Orleans, Louisiana.  Up to six new ships, called Large,
Medium-Speed, Roll-on/Roll-off ships, are expected to be built
with the lead ship scheduled to enter service in early 1998.

     In making the announcement, Secretary Dalton called Mr. Hope
a "military hero" and said "we can never repay him for his
contributions to the men and women in uniform, but we can show
our appreciation with a class of ships named in his honor.  This
is our way of saying thanks for the memories."

     The lead ship was named Bob Hope in honor of his more than
50 years of support to U.S. forces stationed around the world. 
With the USNS Bob Hope coming into service, the spirit of this
renowned entertainer will continue to support the armed forces
for many years to come.

     These ships will be non-combatant vessels, crewed by
civilian mariners under the Navy's Military Sealift Command and
used to preposition tanks, trucks and other wheeled vehicles and
supplies needed to support an Army heavy brigade.  They will
become part of the newly established Brigade Afloat Force, an
eight ship force designed to preposition Army heavy equipment at
sea near potential contingency areas in the Middle and Far East. 
These ships, designated the T-AKR 300 class, will measure
approximately 950 feet in length and travel at speeds up to 24

     The contract for the lead ship was awarded in September 1993
and called for one ship at a cost of $265 million and included
options for up to five additional ships at a total cost of $1.3
billion.  The keel of the Bob Hope is scheduled to be laid in
June 1995 with an estimated launching of January 1997 and
delivery to the Navy in September 1997.

     This new sealift class is part of a major shipbuilding and
conversion program which will add up to nineteen sealift ships to
expand the nation's transportation capacity for DoD cargo -- an
increasingly important asset as U.S. overseas bases close. 
Recommendations to expand sealift emerged from a Congressionally
mandated mobility requirements study released in 1992.  The
report recommended that DoD add the equivalent of five million
square feet of sealift capability to ensure adequate at-sea
prepositioning and surge shipping of U.S. military cargo.

     In addition to the Bob Hope class ships, contracts for other
sealift ships have been awarded in 1993 including a $1.3 billion
contract to the National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (NASSCO)
for one new construction ship plus an option for up to five
additional ships, a $426 million contract to Newport News
Shipyard for two converted ships and a $635 million contract to
NASSCO for three converted ships.