The future USNS Miguel Keith docked at NASSCO. Image from NASSCO video

The Navy christened the fifth in a series of unique floating Marine bases at a ceremony on Saturday morning at the General Dynamics NASSCO shipyard in San Diego.

The future expeditionary sea base USNS Miguel Keith is named in honor of Vietnam War veteran and Medal of Honor recipient Lance Cpl. Miguel Keith, and was christened by his mother, Eliadora Delores Keith.

“USNS Miguel Keith honors the dedicated and heroic service of a fellow Marine,” said Richard V. Spencer, secretary of the Navy. “This dedication will live on in the ship and her crew as they deploy around the world bringing additional capability to our fleet. This christening cannot be achieved without the dedication demonstrated by the men and women who worked tirelessly to build this ship.”

The ship features an aviation hangar and flight deck capable of landing MV-22 Osprey tiltrotors and MH-53E Super Stallion helicopters, as well as extensive accommodations, work spaces, and ordnance storage for an embarked Marine force. The highly flexible vessel can support a variety of maritime missions, including special operations, airborne mine counter measures and humanitarian relief. Delivery to the Navy is expected later this year.

Keith was born in San Antonio in 1951 and enlisted in the Marines in 1969. He was serving as a machine gunner in Quang Ngai Province in 1970 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. Keith’s efforts resulted in him killing three attackers and dispersing two remaining adversaries. Despite mortal wounds, he continued to advance upon an estimated 25 enemy soldiers, killing four and dispersing the rest.

NASSCO in Barrio Logan is the largest shipyard on the West Coast and builds a variety of commercial and military vessels.

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Chris Jennewein

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