USAV Gen. Brehon B. Somervell (LSV3)
The USAV Gen. Brehon B. Somervell (LSV3) is a Frank S. Besson–Class logistical support vessel named for Brehon Burke Somervell, a Little Rock (Pulaski County) native who was essential to the United States’ logistical efforts during World War II.
Brehon Burke Somervell was born in Little Rock on May 9, 1892. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, in 1914 and served in the 1916 Punitive Expedition into Mexico prior to shipping off to France during World War I. He was awarded a Distinguished Service Medal and a Distinguished Service Cross for his service there. He served in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers after returning to the United States and, during the Great Depression, ran the Works Progress Administration’s operations in New York, during which time LaGuardia Airport was constructed.
When World War II began, Somervell was placed in charge of the War Department’s Construction Division, responsible for building the nation’s bases for troop training. After being made a brevet brigadier general in early 1941, he pushed for consolidation of the military high command, resulting in construction of the Pentagon. He was awarded an Oak Leaf Cluster for his Distinguished Service Medal. Named head of the Army Service Force, Somervell organized the supply of all U.S. forces in all theaters during the war. He retired on April 30, 1946, and was made a full four-star general on the retired list. He enjoyed a successful postwar career as an industrialist before dying on February 13, 1955. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.
The USAV Gen. Brehon B. Somervell was built at Moss Point Marine (which later became VT Halter Marine, Inc.) at Pascagoula, Mississippi, and delivered on July 26, 1988. As a Frank S. Besson–Class logistics supply vessel, it was designed to deliver cargo to shallow terminals, undeveloped coastlines, and inland waterways; it is able to offload a full load in as little as four feet of water.
The Somervell displaces 4,199 tons, is 273 feet long and 60 feet wide, and has a twelve-foot draft. The vessel’s twin Electro-Motive Diesel engines produce speeds up to twelve knots. The ship can transport 2,000 short tons of cargo and carries a crew of eight officers and twenty-three enlisted troops.
The Somervell has spent the majority of its service with the U.S. Army Reserve but joined the Eighth Theater Sustainment Command at Joint Base Pearl Harbor–Hickam in Hawaii in February 2019 for operations with the U.S. Army. Plans were announced to retire the vessel in 2029.
For additional information:
“Frank S. Besson Class.” Naval Technology.. https://www.naval-technology.com/projects/lsv/ (accessed December 9, 2021).
“USAV Gen. Brehon B. Somervell (LSV-3).” NavSource.org. http://www.navsource.org/archives/30/10/1003.htm (accessed December 9, 2021).
U.S. Department of Transportation Marine Administration. Report to Congress Biennial Assessment of the Ship Disposal Program, 2018. https://www.maritime.dot.gov/sites/marad.dot.gov/files/docs/national-defense/ship-disposal-program/2771/2017-biennial-assessment.pdf (accessed December 9, 2021).
Mark K. Christ
Central Arkansas Library System
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