Navy Develops New Class of Oilers

Navy Develops New Class of Oilers

The U.S. Navy is surging through the early stages of development to build a new class of replenishment oilers able to replace the aging current fleet starting in 2020, service officials said.

Called TAO-X, the new fleet of oilers will include a new ship design engineered to accommodate the commercial-off-the-shelf technologies, said Frank McCarthey, program manager for Support Ships, Boats and Craft.

“The oilers re-supply Navy ships such as the combatants and the aircraft carriers. They provide jet fuel for the carriers and fuel for the engines on destroyers, frigates, auxiliary ships as well as the amphibious fleet,” said McCarthey. “Their job is to refuel at sea so that the ships do not have to interrupt their mission. Oilers have been part of the Navy since there were coal-fired ships.”

As a way to explore various design possibilities and examine the technologies most likely to increase ship performance, energy efficiency and integration, the Navy awarded three six-to-10 month industry study-contracts.

This will be followed by a formal request for proposal and full and open competition among bidders interested in building the oilers, with construction on the first of 17 ships slated to begin by 2016, said Lt. Kurt Larson, spokesman for Naval Sea Systems Command.

General Dynamics National Steel and Shipbuilding Company, Huntington Ingalls and VT Halter Marine Incorporated  – were each awarded firm-fixed price $1.7 million contracts, according to a Navy statement.

“We do have some flexibility to tailor additional studies as we move along. The idea is that we take their input after they conduct some trade studies. They may find things based on their expertise that are not evident to us,” McCarthey said.

The awarded contracts also include options for a ship integration study, inert gas system cost study, and the potential for additional special studies, analyses and reviews, Navy officials indicated.

The current procurement plan is for a total of 17 ships, with the lead ship scheduled to deliver in 2020, he added.

Although the Navy’s Capabilities Development Document is still pending approval from the Pentagon’s Joint Requirements Oversight Council, the service is currently maturing its plans to build a next-generation oiler equipped with state of the art capability, McCarthey explained.

Some of this includes intended areas of focus such as interest in incorporating environmentally sound engines optimized to minimize fuel consumption, utilizing coating systems on the outside of the hull to maximize corrosion resistance, and working with various control systems to optimize the use of on-board electricity, he added.

“We will look at products that were developed by the commercial marketplace to increase fuel efficiency, create a more efficient transmission system and improve the electrical and mechanical systems,” McCarthey said.

The Navy and the industry teams conducting trade studies are also likely to explore efforts to move toward electronic controls for the fueling systems which connect ships together, McCarthey added.

“There is an underwater line that runs from one ship to the next and cables and pulleys that suspend a fuel hose from the oiler to the customer ship. We’re moving toward electronic controls for the system that connects the two-ships together, instead of hydraulic controls,” he explained.

The TAO-X effort will also examine the possibility of variable speed electric drive for the ship, as well as ventilation approaches, air condition and a full range of commercial technology that is available today.

“Also, these ships will be double-hulled to protect the cargo. From an environmental perspective, if they were to suffer from a collision, they are much less likely to create an oil spill,” he said.

The new oiler will transport as many as 187,000 barrels of fuel, including jet fuel for the air wing on carriers and diesel fuel marine for other ships such as destroyers and Amphibious Ready Groups, McCarthey explained.

Plans for the new class of ships call for the vessel to function as what the Navy calls a station ship, meaning it will remain on-station with a Carrier Strike Group (CSG) or Amphibious Readiness Group (ARG) to provide fuel as required, Navy officials said.

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So I see the US Navy is designing a new oilier to support the LCS. It’s a sure sign the US Navy needs to kill the LCS program

What will be likely one of the more ironic aspects of this fleet oiler, is that it will probably be built to the level-2 navy standard, just like its predecessors are, and the LCS is not.

Maybe should should arm our fleet oilers, since they can take a bigger punch than the LCS can.

The US navy needs to build fleet oilers to fuel the DDG-1000’s, Burkes, LHD’s, LHA’s, and ARG’s, amongst others, in addition to the LCS.

We should build a 50-knot oiler that consumes so much fuel it won’t have any fuel left to deliver.

Surely it’s worth the powerpoint bullet point?

This new oiler class called the LUS (large underway ship) will be based upon the highly successful LCS framework, it will be build to a “sea frame” and the following modules will be placed on board depending upon the mission: mine warfare, antisubmarine warfare, attacking China warfare, or just the simple underway replenishment mission

–underway replenishment for fuel module
–lead line module
–a fuel hose module
–and a module for keeping track of how much fuel is being passed
–it’s have 8 gas turbine engine for high speed operations over 40 knots and 12 diesel engines for low speed ops up to 20 knots
–It’ll have multiple crews: blue, gold, green, gray and pink
–It’ll be highly automated so that it only require a crew of 5
–it’s cost 6 trillion dollars
–the first LUS sea frame is expected to roll out in 2035 and the modules are expected to be ready in 2067
–but it’ll requires itl’s own oiler ;-P

Here we talking about “oilers” and the LCS trolls smelled someone dissing the LCS machine from affar and all of sudden they are everywhere giving everyone a thumbs down Apparently someone put out a tweet “LCS is being dissed on dodbuzz, quick, get you ass over there and start thumbing down.” :-=D

Heck, I’m even going to get a bunch of thumbs down for this post ;-P

I once talked with a guy who had worked in DOD naval procurement as a civilian engineer and analyst during the Reagan years.

He said that Congress are institutionally incapable of understanding the idea of total cost of ownership. Various Congresscritters on the service committees would complain to the Navy about the high cost of nuclear-powered surface combatants.

His group’s response, backed up with a stack of economic and operations studies a foot high, was “Yes, nuclear surface combatants do cost a lot up front, but you then get largely compensating long term savings from having to buy, crew, operate and maintain fewer fleet oilers.”

The response was invariably a blank stare. All that Congress were ever able to imagine were individual vessel price tags, not the actual full long run cost of operation of the entire fleet. And Congress got their way.

So apart from CVN, there are no nuclear surface ships left in the Navy, and hey presto, here we now are at a time of brutal budget pressures having to devote scarce money to… more fleet oilers. Genius.

TBH, I heard that during the Reagan administration, the Nuclear cruisers were far too expensive to maintain.

BTW, you forgot about our subs, again.

Every ship class but the CVNs run on diesel. The carriers still need oilers to fuel the jets.

Maybe because you’re being a smart ass for no good reason.You did notice the article was about oilers and not the LCS right?

As I recall, the story was that the regular cruisers cost $30 million a year to maintain, the nuke cruisers, $50 million a year. But I like the no-oilers argument required to support the nuke cruisers.

Two of the Supply-class fast combat support ships are slated for inactivation. These ~20 year old ships provide fuel, food, ammo, etc., and are capable of making 25 knots, speed useful in providing logistic support to a CSG.

USNS Bridge (T-AOE-10) was commissioned in 1994, transferred to MSC in 2001, and will be inactivated in 2014. USNS Rainier (T-AOE-7) was commisioned in 1995, transferred to MSC in 2003, and will be inactivated in 2015. They are not going to be sold, scrapped or sunk, but also won’t be active and available, rather will be held in a reserve status.

That will reduce the number of fleet oilers from 19 to 17, leaving 2 Supply class and 15 Henry J Kaiser class oilers.

I’d like to see them step up NRL’s ongoing efforts in development of fuel oil synthesis (from seawater using electricity). Put a new class of large fast CGN in the fleet to provide air and missile defense to the CVNs/CSGs, and use the CGN’s nuclear plants to power shipboard fuel oil synthesis plants, to supplement fuel oil supply in the CSGs, and reduce demand on the fleet oilers.

Fuel oil synthesized from seawater using energy provided by a shipboard nuclear-electric power plant.

Any idea on the O&M for an oiler or a shore based gas station? $10 million/year more for a nuke, minus whatever you save not needing to refuel.

Nice try, “Big-Dean”…
The gray and pink crews will be combined into a single crew known as “grape”, and NO!,
the LUS will NOT require its’ own oiler…
It’s gonna be *WIND*POWERED*…
…otherwise, good post, as usual…

He said ships Subs are boats.

Yes, which didn’t stop “the anti-LCS trolls” from weighing in.……

In a era of shrinking budgets and money I dont see this is logical as a priority of naval funds. DDG-1000 new Carriers and new subs are needed but this head long rush for a oilers I think is navy pork at its BIGGEST.

Interesting that the Navy would want to build new T-AO’s; at last glance, they still had two unfinished KAISER class sitting in the reserve fleet in Texas.

Big Dean was making fun of the pro-LCS “trolls.”

They’d still need to be replenished because of the helos (av-gas) and stores.

Both ships were scrapped in 2011.

I call team pink!

mockery is the ultimate expression of free speech

if we didn’t have mockery we’d only have sarcasm ;-P

the Navy realized that once the .… hits the fleet in huge numbers that the … is going to
need dedicated milk cows to fuel its thirsty .….…… engines

Since buzzing around at … knots uses a lot of .… and those pesky little mines just don’t sit still ya know ;-P

(names, places and technology has been redacted to protect tender ears ya know)

““There is an underwater line that runs from one ship to the next and cables and pulleys that suspend a fuel hose from the oiler to the customer ship. We’re moving toward electronic controls for the system that connects the two-ships together, instead of hydraulic controls,” he explained.“
I’ve taken part in too many UNREPS to remember but I think I would remember an ‘underwater line’!
Are these new AO’s submersible? That would make them harder to locate and sink!
Authors can be so much fun!

Ahhh the good old days. Sitting on 8 million gallons and thumping along at flank trying to keep up with the Big E while simultaneously taking a roll and hitting the end of the tower spring, bursting a hose and spraying down a DD alongside with all the bridge crew on that destroyer decked out in dress whites. They were looking for AO144 crew at the next port of call (Malta I believe) as if it was our fault the hose broke.
Underwater hose???huh?? how about an underwater breeches buoy too! Dunking the chaplain takes on a new dimension! Nothing beat the roar of the heated oil in January below decks like the surf, put you right to sleep and the warm decks were first rate too! 2 years at sea in those old tubs, it was grand.

It is probably a throw back to the German U boat Milch cows that came out to service the type XIV boats.
Untersea boot indeed!

hey Navrm7, didn’t you hear, it’s the new underwater “module”

it’ll be ready for testing in 2046 :-D

“Now hear this, now hear this, this is the captain speaking, code pink, I say again code pink, this in not a drill” :-P

well tmb2, I didn’t start the thread, I’m simply just continuing it, and putting some humor in to boot ;-]

fart winds and wallowing seas my friend LOL

Gee, only 2 years at sea in an oiler? Try 5 and then another 3 on AE’s. To be honest here I prefer the oilers to the AE, at least you had a chance to jump overboard if you had a big problem. :)
Besides, the Navy in it’s wisdom turned over all of the AE/AO duties to the civilians I think. What a waste, it was a Boatswains Mate’s dream along with the Gator fleet.

Russ Abbey
Check, Virginia

Served with ComSerGru/Ron-1 back in 1970–71, we still had a few of the old WW II tankers as well as a few of the “state-of-the-art” replenishment ships, I think they were referred to as AOR’s and AOE’s. One of which the skipper took a chunk out of the quay in Long Beach and left the bow curled over. When I went aboard, thought that it was the fanciest ship in the Navy. The berthing spaces were roomy and with the portholes open quite airy too. Unlike some of the LST’s and LPH’s that my unit traveled on in late 73 and 74. The ships have come a long way since then.

Well any way no matter what type of ships we have, or how they are fueled, in the Navy there will always be a need for replenishment and service ships, AR’s, AH’s, AO’s, AE’s and any other critter that floats on the sea and keeps our fleets in action when they are needed.

Fair winds and following seas.

A Proud American (since 1868) and Veteran (1969–1994)
Et secundum diversitatem unitatis pro scientiam (Unity through diversity and knowledge.)
LPN/ret, HM2c(FMF)/USN, Sgt/USAR, ACM/olc, CWVet, VNeVet, GWVet, DAV/VFW Life Member.

DD-21-killed, turned to DD(X), resurrected as DDG-1000


Really, I am being serious here — I think DODBuzz should set up some kind of “personals” site, so folks like you can connect & chat…
THANK-YOU for your service, and your comments…


Your dates for USS Bridge are a bit off. I probably only caught this because my son is a plank owner and I was present at her naming ceremony.

Laid down, 2 August 1993, at National Steel and Shipbuilding, Co., San Diego, CA.
Launched, 24 August 1996
Commissioned USS Bridge (AOE-10), 5 August 1998
Decommissioned, 24 June 2004, at Naval Base Bremerton, WA. and placed in service as USNS Bridge (T-AOE-10) the same date

She’s been taken out of service and is now sitting @ Bremerton shipyard (PSNS). Her former sailors were able to make farewell visits in San Diego (where she was in Pre-com), and in Bremerton.

Underwater line? That does seem just a tad bit odd. Wonder what he meant. And he’s one of the honcho’s in charge?


…presumably, they also don’t get the benefits associated with military service, in terms of programs, health care and the like. And are you sure they actually make more?

Every class but the DDG’s, CGs, and FFGs

Helos haven’t run on Av-Gas in many decades. They run on JP5 which is also used to power all of the Navy’s oil powerd ships. Even on Nukes, JP5 is used for the Diesel generators.

Nuke cruisers were not “too expensive to maintain” during the Reagan years as that was when the Navy reached the high water mark of 9 nuke cruisers. The numbers stayed relatively constant through the Bush 41 yrs and then dropped off the cliff during the Clinton adminstration. By the end of the Clinton years, the Navy had ZERO nuclear cruisers.

Actually, they make a lot more but there are a lot fewer of them. The steaming watches are very small and made up of very well trained operators. They do not do much maintenance either, their job is to operate the ship.

So, you’re saying that it was Bill Clinton, all by himself, that eliminated all nuclear cruisers…???…
Wow, I didn’t know he had that much personal power…
What’s wrong with those Repubtards in Congress, to let this happen…???…
And why didn’t Bush, jr. undo what Clinton did…???…
Oh, that’s right, Bush,jr. was too busy cutting taxes on the rich, and raising FedGov spending and getting us into 2 illegal wars, because DaddyBush didn’t take out Saddam Hussein in 1991, like he SHOULD HAVE…
Face it, Grandpa, America has been SCREWED by BOTH parties…about equally…

Thanks for pointing this out. I was on the Moana Loa AE-8, the first ship t do an unrep. and there certainly no under water lines except when something screwed up.

They got the axe because they were coming up on their refuel; and the Navy had a very serious VLS fetish. Every destroyer and “cruiser” without VLS got kicked to the curb, not just nuclear cruisers.

Actually, they are planned to replace the Kaiser Class T-AOs and have been in the 30yr shipbuilding plan for 15yrs or so. But don’t let reality intrude on your rant.

…Navy Photos of the Day has a cool shot of LCS2 doing donuts…just sayin’…
(…wouldn’t the LCS be more radar-reflective if they polished it?…
OK, ok, I know, back to the TAO-X oilers.…

He may have been referring to astern refueling, something I remember practicing a grand total of once while on both USS Flint (AE-32) and USS Detroit (AOE-4).

Come along way from the oiler I served on U.S.S. Mattaponi A.O. 41 from1961 to 1963.

BD, soo funny and sooo true..har har…there are people taht’ll begin and end their careers on this project.

guys let me clear the air as a former sailor aboard BB-61 and now a federal govt sailor we do make more money than the average sailor and earn every penny. We do the job wth less a normal ship with a crew of 300 or more we do with 85 on usns ships. ON USS ships civillans are out manned 10 to 1 and they handle all maintence related to the ship, supply, engineering and navagation as well as mess cranking and gangway watches and fire and repair parties at sea. Our Navy has changed but make no mistake all aboard are sailors and we see ourselves as one crew 1 mission ‚one boss just diffrent benefits and rules of engagement.


I see, these are much more different and come a long way since the USS TALUGA AO 62 commissioned in 1942 — de commissioned in 1972 . I did six campaigns on it during Vietnam and Gulf of Tonkin 67 to 72 I ran ship’s story and supply holds between trips in country attached to CFT 116 RAD 532 on PBRs in the rivers.

retired with 23 years and never made more than civilian counter parts, retirement called benefits and not keeping up with civilian counter parts,medical is almost gone unless you go to the VA. Personally I could not in good thought recommend any one on military service, retirement is almost nothing now. I received my retirement money when I retired, today is much different. Sorry just telling it like it is.

Well, thank-you for your service, anyway, Wally, and I really do hope things go well for you…Have a good weekend, my friend…I wish I could do more, but I’m glad you did what you did…Stay Strong…

As a plank owner on the USS Kalamazoo AOR-6 I am somewhat amazed that we are still building oilers that have only one function, fuel. The AOR’s and AOE’s back in the 70’s and 80’s were multiple function ships that could provide not only fuel, but dry goods, frozen goods, fresh fruits/vegetables, spare parts, ammo and a variety of other services all from one ship. Even the AFS I was on (USS Niagara Falls AFS-3) had multiple capabilities. I’m also curious about if these new oilers are going to be manned by sailors or are they going to be USNS? Most of the auxiliaries that were operating after I retired in ’89 all became part of the Military Sealift Command and were being manned by civilians for the most part.

As far as the LCS program is concerned, unlike many here who seem to find the negative aspect of everything that our Navy does, I believe the LCS along with a lot of new ships designs are the future of the Navy and just as the old battleship sailors complained about carriers, and the surface force complained about the submariners, this new generation of ships will work out all the kinks and replace all the dinosaurs of the 20th century. The sailors of the Great White Fleet were dragged kicking and screaming into the 20th century and it seems the sailors of the 20th century will follow suit and be kicking and screaming into the 21st century.

…I hope you saw the recent “Navy Photos of the Day”, showing LCS2 doing a 360turn…very cool…

I was going to take the time to educate you on what we “civilians” provide for the “more money” we make, but the other commenter s below have pretty much nailed it.
I will add that we provide tremendous value to the Navy because of the relatively small crew size and the fact that we are professional mariners and thus don’t require BHA, family centers, shore duty, single sailor programs, MWR and all the little goodies that today’s Navy has come to expect. Most of us are on ships, at sea, forward deployed, far more than we are home. As for, “more money”? yeah maybe so, but we also pay taxes, contribute to our medical insurance, and our TSP plans. Trust me, none of us are rolling dough.

What they all run on is pretty much just a dry diesel. But then so is aviation fuel, and diesels can and do run off the same thing that the DDG’s, CG’s and FFG’s do. Point in fact that is pretty much what the small boats on-board them do and are.

You need to have the complete assortment of support vessels, not just a carrier, a sub and a destroyer. They would run out of fuel in a short period of time. Not to mention repair vessels, supply, fast attach, etc. The big problem with the non military mind is they do not see the requirements nor the needs to have a complete land, sea and air combat ready military.….


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