Monday, August 17, 2009

General Dynamics NASSCO Launches USNS Matthew Perry

General Dynamics NASSCO Launches USNS Matthew Perry
Aug 17, 2009

SAN DIEGO - General Dynamics NASSCO, a wholly owned subsidiary of General Dynamics (NYSE: GD), yesterday launched the U.S. Navy's newest supply ship, USNS Matthew Perry (T-AKE 9), during a christening ceremony at the shipyard. The ship is named in honor of Commodore Matthew C. Perry, the U.S. Navy officer who established American trade with Japan in the mid-19(th) Century.

Vice Adm. Richard Hunt, the commander of the U.S. Navy's 3(rd) Fleet, was the ceremony's principal speaker. Ms. Hester Evans, the great-great-great granddaughter of Commodore Perry and the ship's sponsor, christened the ship by breaking the traditional bottle of champagne against the bow before the 689-foot-long ship slid into San Diego Bay. Approximately 2,000 people attended the ceremony.

Commodore Perry (1794-1858), the younger brother of Battle of Lake Erie hero Oliver Hazard Perry, received a midshipman commission in January 1809. Over the next 43 years, he commanded three ships and two squadrons of ships. In March 1852, he was selected to lead a U.S. mission to Japan, a country that had been essentially closed to outsiders for 200 years. Through Perry's statesman negotiations, the Convention of Kanagawa treaty was signed on March 31, 1854. The treaty provided that humane treatment be extended to U.S. sailors shipwrecked in Japanese territory, that U.S. ships be permitted to buy coal in Japan, and that the ports of Shimoda and Hakodate be opened to U.S. commerce. Perry lived his final years in New York City following his mission to Japan.

USNS Matthew Perry is the ninth ship of the Lewis and Clark (T-AKE) class of dry cargo-ammunition ships for the Navy, and the first ship to be named after Commodore Perry. NASSCO began constructing the ship in April 2008 and is scheduled to deliver it to the Navy's Military Sealift Command in the first quarter of 2010. When the Matthew Perry joins the fleet, its primary mission will be to deliver more than 10,000 tons of food, ammunition, fuel and other provisions to combat ships on the move at sea.

General Dynamics NASSCO employs more than 4,500 people and is the only major ship construction yard on the West Coast of the United States. NASSCO has delivered seven T-AKE ships to the Navy and is under contract to build five additional T-AKE ships, including the Matthew Perry. The Navy has also provided long-lead material funding to NASSCO for two more ships for a total class of 14 T-AKE vessels. The shipyard is also building a series of five commercial product carriers for American Petroleum Tankers, a shipbuilding joint venture led by the Blackstone Financial Group.

General Dynamics, headquartered in Falls Church, Va., employs approximately 92,000 people worldwide. The company is a market leader in business aviation; land and expeditionary combat systems, armaments and munitions; shipbuilding and marine systems; and information systems and technologies.

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