The Navy will christen its newest roll-on/roll-off cargo ship USNS Brittin (T-AKR 305) at Litton-Avondale Shipyard in New Orleans, La., at 10 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 21.
The ship will honor Army Sgt. 1st Class Nelson V. Brittin, (1920-1951), who was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously for leading his squad in an attack on a hill near Yonggong-ni, Korea, March 7, 1951. Wounded by a grenade, Brittin refused medical attention and hurled grenades into enemy positions. When his weapon jammed, he leapt into a foxhole where he killed the occupants with his rifle butt and bayonet. He continued to clear foxholes and single-handedly eliminated a machine-gun nest. When a camouflaged machine gun opened fire upon his squad, Brittin charged the position before he was killed by a burst of machine gun fire. He accounted for 20 enemy casualties and silenced four automatic weapons before he was killed. No previous ship has been named Brittin.
Retired Gen. Terrence R. Dake, former assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, will deliver the principal address. Dorothy Brittin Moffa, a sister of the ship's namesake and Sue Dake, the general's wife, will serve as ship's co-sponsors and, in the time-honored Navy tradition, will break bottles of champagne across the bow to formally name the ship.
The sixth in the Bob Hope class of large, medium speed, roll-on/roll-off (LMSR) sealift ships, Brittin is a non-combatant vessel built by Litton-Avondale Industries in New Orleans. It will be crewed by civilian mariners and operated under contract for the Navy's Military Sealift Command, Washington, D.C.
The LMSR ships are ideal for loading military combat and combat support equipment needed overseas and for resupplying necessary equipment and supplies during national crisis. The ship's six-deck interior has a cargo carrying capacity of approximately 380,000 square feet and its roll-on/roll-off design makes it ideal for transporting helicopters, tanks and other wheeled and tracked military vehicles.
Two 110-ton single pedestal twin cranes allow it to load and unload cargo where shoreside infrastructure is limited. A commercial helicopter deck enables emergency, daytime landings. Brittin is 951 feet in length, has a beam of 106 feet, and displaces approximately 62,000 long tons. The diesel-powered ship will be able to sustain speeds up to 24 knots.