Sign marks start of construction
A sign marks the start of construction for the future USS Robert E. Simanek. Courtesy NASSCO

General Dynamics NASSCO began construction Wednesday of the fifth ship in the Navy’s expeditionary sea base program, a class of large ships with storerooms, barracks and a landing deck to support special-forces operations.

The future USS Robert E. Simanek will be 784 feet long and support a 52,000 square-foot flight deck for helicopters and tiltrotors.

Dennis DuBard, a retired Naval officer and long-time NASSCO employee, initiated the first cut of steel that will be used to construct the vessel.

“Today, we start construction of the ship that honors the life and service of the ship’s namesake, Marine Corps Private First Class Robert E. Simanek,” said Dave Carver, president of NASSCO. “This ship represents the thousands of men and women who will spend roughly 2 million hours building this ship.”

The future USS John L. Canley, the fourth ship in the program, is scheduled to be launched in the summer of 2022. The first three ships — the USS Lewis B. Puller, USS Hershel “Woody” Williams, and USS Miguel Keith — have been delivered to the Navy.

NASSCO in Barrio Logan is the largest shipyard on the West Coast, designing, constructing and repairing ships for the Navy and commercial customers.

An expeditionary sea base. Courtesy NASSCO

Chris Jennewein

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