The USNS Wally Schirra christened

The late-astronaut and longtime Rancho Santa Fe resident Wally Schirra has his name attached to a Navy cargo ship that was launched Sunday at the NASSCO shipyard on San Diego Bay.

The USNS Wally Schirra, the eighth in a class of cargo ships, was christened by his widow, Josephine, who broke a champagne bottle against the side of the vessel as their son and daughter watched, NASSCO’s Karl Johnson said.

Schirra was one of the original seven Mercury astronauts and was the command pilot of Apollo VII, the first manned flight in the program that led to landings on the moon. He was familiar to millions of Americans as the space expert sitting next to Walter Cronkite during the Apollo 11 landing and other space adventures.

Schirra died in 2007.

Also in attendance were astronauts Bill Anders, Scott Carpenter, Jim Lovell, and Tom Stafford; and actor Mark Harmon, who portrayed Schirra in the 1998 miniseries “From the Earth to the Moon,” Johnson said.

The new 689-foot boat is part of the Lewis and Clark class of T-AKE ships, is designed to carry and transfer to other vessels ammunition, food, fuel, repair parts and other supplies so that the Navy can maintain a forward operating capability. They carry a crew of 172.

The Navy has ordered 14 of the vessels from NASSCO.

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Posted by Pat Sherman on Mar 9, 2009. Filed under Archives. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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