AUG09-02. U.S. Navy christens roll-on/roll-off cargo ship USNS Red Cloud.

By DoD Public Affairs

The U.S. Navy christened its newest roll-on/roll-off cargo ship, USNS Red Cloud (T-AKR 313), on Aug. 7 at National Steel and Shipbuilding Company in San Diego, Calif.

Rep. Duncan Hunter of California delivered the ceremony’s principal address. Annita Red Cloud, daughter of the ship’s namesake, and Marilyn Clemins, wife of Navy Adm. Archie Clemins (Commander-in-Chief of U.S. Pacific Fleet), serve as co-sponsors of the ship. In the time-honored Navy tradition, Red Cloud and Clemins each broke a bottle of champagne across the bow to formally name the ship.

The ship is named "Red Cloud" in honor of Army Cpl. Mitchell Red Cloud Jr. (1925-1950), a native of Hatfield, Wis., who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for actions during the defense of a ridge in front of his company’s command post in Korea on Nov. 5, 1950. As the first to detect the approach of enemy forces, Red Cloud gave the alarm and initiated action as the enemy charged from an area less than a hundred feet away. This action allowed his company to organize a defense. He maintained his position despite being severely wounded. He wrapped his arm around a tree to allow him to continue firing upon the enemy until he was mortally wounded. His heroic actions prevented his company from being overrun. One previous ship, YT 268 (1943-1986), was named Red Cloud in honor of the American Indian Chief (1822-1909).

Red Cloud is the newest in the Watson class of large, medium speed, roll-on/roll-off sealift ships and was constructed at National Steel and Shipbuilding Co. in San Diego, Calif. The ship is operated by the U.S. Navy’s Military Sealift Command in Washington, D.C. and crewed by civilian mariners.

A non-combatant vessel, Red Cloud’s roll-on/roll-off design makes it ideal for transporting helicopters, tanks, and other wheeled and tracked military vehicles, having approximately 390,000 square feet of cargo carrying space. Red Cloud is 950 feet in length, has a beam of 106 feet and displaces 62,644 tons. The gas turbine-powered ship will be able to sustain speeds up to 24 knots. -USN-