Last week, the San Diego Tribune reported that USNS Charles Drew (T-AKE-10) went to sea for the very first time out of San Diego, CA. Here’s a litle bit of background on the namesake of the Navy’s newest dry cargo ship :
“A black scientist helped save thousands of lives during World War II. Dr. Charles Drew set up and ran the pioneer blood plasma bank in Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. This bank served as one of the models for the system of banks operated later by the American Red Cross. On October 1, 1940, in response to a British appeal, Dr. Drew was appointed medical director of the plasma project of Great Britain. As director of the first great experiment in the gross production of human plasma, Dr. Drew created models for later developments in the United States and Europe. When the project ended in 1941, Dr. Drew became the first director of a new project charged with the responsibility of setting up donor stations to collect blood plasma for the American armed services. He resigned three months later and became professor of surgery at Howard University. Under an American Red Cross ruling in World War II, Dr. Drew’s blood, ironically enough, would have been segregated from the blood of white donors.” – Before the Mayflower: A History of Black America: The Classic Account of the Struggles and Triumphs of Black Americans by Lerone Bennett, Jr. , p. 534.
Getting underway for the first time is an exciting time in the history of any ship. This sea trial was made even more special with the presence onboard of two of Dr. Drew’s children.