Navy TAO(X) Oiler Shipbuilding Program: Background and Issues for Congress Page: 4 of 20
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Navy TAO(X) Oiler Shipbuilding Program: Background and Issues for Congress
This report provides background information and issues for Congress on the TAO(X) oiler
shipbuilding program, a program to build a new class of 17 fleet oilers for the Navy. The Navy
wants to procure the first TAO(X) in FY2016. The Navy's proposed FY2016 budget requests
$674.2 million to fully fund the procurement of the first TAO(X).
Issues for Congress for FY2016 regarding the TAO(X) program include whether to approve,
reject, or modify the Navy's FY2016 request for $674.2 million for the procurement of the first
TAO(X); whether to fund the procurement of TAO(X)s in the Shipbuilding and Conversion, Navy
(SCN) account, as the Navy proposes, or in the National Defense Sealift Fund (NDSF); whether
to approve, reject, or modify the Navy's proposal to use a combined solicitation for the detailed
design and construction of the first six TAO(X)s, the detailed design and construction of LHA-8,
and contract design support for the LX(R) program, and to limit the bidding in this solicitation to
HII/Ingalls and GD/NASSCO; and whether to grant the Navy authority to use a block buy
contract to procure the first few TAO(X)s.
Decisions that Congress makes regarding the program could affect Navy capabilities and funding
requirements and the U.S. shipbuilding industrial base.
Role of Navy Fleet Oilers
The primary role of Navy fleet oilers is to transfer fuel to Navy surface ships that are operating at
sea, so as to extend the operating endurance of these surface ships and their embarked aircraft.
Fleet oilers also provide other surface ships with lubricants, fresh water, and small amounts of dry
cargo. Fleet oilers transfer fuel and other supplies to other surface ships in operations called
underway replenishments (UNREPs). During an UNREP, an oiler steams next to the receiving
ship and transfers fuel by hose (see Figure 1, Figure 2, and Figure 3).1
Oilers are one kind of Navy UNREP ship; other Navy UNREP ships include ammunition ships,
dry cargo ships, and multiproduct replenishment ships. The Navy's UNREP ships are known
1 The Navy states that
A typical connected replenishment starts when a warship makes an "approach" on a CLF ship. The
CLF ship maintains steady course and speed while the "customer ship" approaches and comes
alongside the CLF ship, matching course and speed. The distance between the two ships is usually
between 120-200 feet. The CLF ship then passes heavy metal wires, to the customer ship, that are
connected at the replenishment stations. These wires are placed under tension to support fuel hoses
for refueling operations or trolleys that move pallets of provisions, ammunition, or other cargo from
ship to ship. Ships with flight decks can also receive provisions and ammunition via vertical
replenishment. During this evolution a helicopter transfers cargo in external sling loads, or in the
case of mail or passengers, inside the helicopter.
(Statement of Mr. F. Scott DiLisio, Director, Strategic Mobility / Combat Logistics Division,
Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, on the Logistics and Sealift Force Requirements and Force
Structure Assessment Before the House Armed Services Committee Seapower and Projection
Forces Subcommittee, July 30, 2014, p. 3.)
Congressional Research Service
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Navy TAO(X) Oiler Shipbuilding Program: Background and Issues for Congress, report, March 25, 2015; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc808726/m1/4/: accessed November 17, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.