USNS Charles Drew: A floating gas station, grocery & hardware store, post office

USNS Charles Drew: A floating gas station, grocery & hardware store, post office thumbnail

The USNS Charles Drew, an American Navy cargo ship, arrived in an Indian shipyard for repair and allied activities, marking a significant step forward for India-US relations and the Indian shipbuilding industry. The US Navy has awarded a contract to private firm L & T’s Shipyard in Kattupalli, near Chennai in southern India.The vessel will spend days at the private shipyard to undergo repair work in various areas.

The USNS Charles Drew:

The vessel is known as the United States’ Military Sealift Command’s Lewis and Clark-class dry cargo ship, USNS Charles Drew. The Charles Drew is a cargo-carrier vessel that provides critical support to the U.S. Navy fleet operating in the Indo-Pacific Region. 

The USNS Charles Drew is massive! #689ft long,106ft wide & has a displacement of 41,000tons (IAC Vikrant displacement is similar)

Manned by a 53-member crew Charles Drew has 2 helos, supplies almost anything that US navy ships at sea require (spares, mail, fuel, food, ammo)

— Sidharth.M.P (@sdhrthmp) August 8, 2022


The ships of MSC’s CLF (Military Sealift Command Combat Logistics Force) are the supply lines to U.S. Navy ships at sea. These ships provide virtually everything US Navy ships need, including fuel, food, fleet ordnance and dry cargo, spare parts, mail, and other supplies.  

All CLF ships are government-owned and operated by U.S. government civil service mariners. In addition to U.S. Navy ships, Military Sealift Command’s Combat Logistics Force also resupplies international partners and allies operating in the Indo-Pacific Region. CLF ships enable the US Navy fleet to remain at sea and combat ready for extended periods of time.  

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The USNS Charles Drew is 689 ft long, 106 ft wide, has a displacement of 41,000 tons, and can travel at a speed of 20 knots. The ship is manned by a 53-member crew and can carry over 6,600 tonnes of dry cargo, over 1,700 tonnes of refrigerated stores, and 18,000 barrels of cargo fuel. A barrel is a unit of volume equal to 42 U.S. gallons or 9702.0 cubic inches.

The USNS Charles Drew is designed to carry 63% more cargo than previous AE and AFS classes of ships, and it can accommodate two vertical replenishment helicopters.

What Indian and US officials said about the Charles Drew visit

“We are indeed pleased to welcome US Naval Ship USNS Charles Drew to India for making her voyage ready,” India’s Defence Secretary Dr Ajay Kumar said.India’s initiative also assumes special significance in furthering the strategic partnership between India and the US. It marks the beginning of a new chapter for deeper engagement. “

He added that the arrival of USNS Charles Drew for repairs was a sign of a maturing Indian shipbuilding industry. “Today, India has six major shipyards with a turnover of nearly $2 billion. We are making ships not only for our own requirements. We have our own design house and are capable of making all kinds of state-of-the-art ships. The country’s first indigenous aircraft carrier, Vikrant, is a shining example of the growth of the Indian shipbuilding industry.

US Consul General in Chennai, Ms. Judith Ravin, said: “In April, at the US-India 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin affirmed their intention to explore utilising Indian shipyards for repairs on US Navy vessels. This first-ever repair of USNS Charles Drew is a landmark development to be celebrated as a symbol of our strengthened US-India partnership.

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The Defence Attaché at the US Embassy in New Delhi. Rear Admiral Michael Baker said, “Our shipping industries positively contribute to a free and open Indo-Pacific by partnering to deliver effective, efficient, and economical repair of military vessels.”



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