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Press Release

MSC PAO 97-38
July 28, 1997
For more information, contact:
Marge Holtz or Nancy Breen
(202) 685-5055

Military Sealift Command's second
new LMSR is christened

Large, medium-speed, roll-on/roll-off ship USNS Watson (T-AKR 310) was christened July 26 at National Steel and Shipbuilding Company, San Diego, Calif. Named in honor of Army Pvt. George Watson, who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions during World War II, USNS Watson will become part of the Military Sealift Command's Afloat Prepositioning Force and used to preposition at sea ammunition, equipment and supplies for the Army.

Secretary of the Army Togo D. West was the principal speaker at the christening ceremony, and his wife, Gail, officially gave the ship its name.

"Pvt. George Watson exemplifies the partnership among soldiers, sailors and merchant mariners fighting for America. That partnership is as strong today as it was when Watson gave his life for his comrades," said Rear Adm. William H. Butler, USNR, who represented Military Sealift Command at the ceremony.

It is very appropriate that Military Sealift Command--whose mission is to provide for the ocean transportation of equipment, fuel supplies and ammunition to sustain U.S. forces worldwide during peacetime and in war--has one of its newest ships named in honor of a person who gave his life saving others during combat at sea. When Watson's ship was repeatedly attacked by enemy bombers, he helped others to make it to life rafts so that they might live, until he was so exhausted that he was pulled down by the tow of the sinking ship. The civilian mariners who crew USNS Watson will put themselves in harm's way to make sure that U.S. soldiers have what they need to get the job done.

As one of 19 large, medium-speed, roll-on/roll-off ships being built or converted at U.S. shipyards, USNS Watson is the first of seven new gas turbine propulsion LMSRs.

When the LMSR acquisition program is completed, the Navy will have approximately 5 million square feet of additional strategic sealift capacity.