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November 2009

USNS Carl Brashear welcomes namesake's son
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By Sarah E. Burford, SEALOGPAC Public Affairs

Army Chief Warrant Officer Philip Brashear
Army Chief Warrant Officer Philip Brashear, son of the namesake for dry cargo/ammunition ship USNS Carl Brashear, takes a seat of honor on the bridge of the ship during a special underway embark in the Pacific Northwest. U.S. Navy photo

The master and crew of Military Sealift Command dry cargo/ammunition ship USNS Carl Brashear welcomed aboard the son of the ship's namesake for a voyage up the Columbia River from Cascade Shipyard in Portland, Ore., to the Manchester Fuel Pier in Manchester, Wash., Sept. 11-15.

U.S. Army Reserve Chief Warrant Officer Philip Brashear embraced the rare opportunity to spend time aboard his late father's living legacy, touring the ship while underway, talking with many of MSC's 124 civil service crew members aboard and observing life aboard the 689-foot ship.

Less than one year ago the warrant officer and other members of the Brashear family saw the newly constructed Lewis and Clark-class ship, T-AKE 7, come to life at a festive christening ceremony led by Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead Sept. 18, 2008, in San Diego.

Because Philip Brashear's second visit allowed him to spend four nights on board the ship, he had more time to fully appreciate the size and capabilities of the ship, which delivers ammunition, food, fuel and other dry cargo to U.S. and allied ships around the world - helping them maintain a strong forward presence.

As the ship navigated its way through some of the Pacific Northwest's most scenic terrain, Philip Brashear spent a few quiet moments on the bridge listening to the sounds of the ship moving through the water and reflecting back on his father, a U.S. Navy pioneer.

Master Chief Petty Officer Carl Brashear was one of the first African-Americans to graduate from the Navy Diving School and the first African-American to qualify and serve as a master diver on active duty. Carl Brashear paved the way for another minority group a few years later when he lost his leg in a diving accident. Determined to return to Navy diving, Carl Brashear put himself through a strenuous rehabilitation program and rigorous testing. Two years after the accident, he became the first person to certify or recertify to dive as an amputee. Years later, actor Cuba Gooding, Jr., played Carl Brashear in the popular movie "Men of Honor," which chronicles the diver's life.

Philip Brashear shared with crew members that while his father died before the commissioning of his namesake, the master chief would have been proud and humbled to have a Navy ship bear his name.

"My dad would have been so taken in by this ship," said Philip Brashear. "He had been on all different kinds of ships during his Navy career, but I think the sheer size and power of T-AKE 7 would have really impressed him. I think he would have also been very impressed with the state-of-art technology that every department on board seems to have."

Brashear was delivered to MSC on March 4, following a series of tests and sea trials. In addition to the ship's civil service mariners, 11 U.S. Navy sailors are embarked to provide supply coordination.

The T-AKE program has contract options for up to 14 ships, and 12 ships are currently fully under contract with MSC.