Expeditionary sea base
An expeditionary sea base. Courtesy NASSCO

Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer announced Saturday that the service’s newest expeditionary sea base under construction in San Diego will be named in honor of Marine Corps Vietnam veteran and Medal of Honor recipient Miguel Keith.

The 784-foot-long vessel under construction at the NASSCO shipyard in Barrio Logan is a floating Marine base, with a 52,000 square foot flight deck, fuel and equipment storage, repair spaces, magazines, and mission-planning spaces.

It can carry 250 personnel, and support helicopters and tilt-rotor aircraft for mine countermeasures, counter-piracy operations, maritime security operations, humanitarian aid and disaster-relief missions.

Keith, who served as a machine gunner in Vietnam, was mortally wounded on the morning of May 8, 1970, in Quang Ngai Province when his platoon came under a heavy-ground attack. Despite being injured in the attack and open to hostile fire, he continued to engage the enemy with heavy machine gun fire, killing seven attackers and helping his platoon defeat a numerically superior enemy force.

The future USNS Miguel Keith is expected to be delivered to the Navy in 2019. NASSCO has already launched two previous ships in the series, and two more are planned after the Miguel Keith.

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.