Expeditionary sea base
Artists conception of an expeditionary sea base underway. Courtesy Marine Corps

The keel for the Navy’s third expeditionary sea base, a special class of ships for low-intensity overseas missions, was laid down Tuesday at the General Dynamics NASSCO shipyard in Barrio Logan.

The future USNS Miguel Keith is named for a Vietnam-era Marine machine gunner who defeated a superior enemy force despite mortal sounds. Keith posthumously received the Medal of Honor for his heroism.

The 784-foot-long vessel 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.

The ship 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.