Keel-laying ceremony
The keel-laying ceremony for the future USS Robert E. Simanek. Courtesy NASSCO

Workers at the NASSCO shipyard in Barrio Logan have laid the keel for the Navy’s fifth expeditionary sea base, 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 feature a 52,000 square-foot flight deck for helicopters and tiltrotors.

The ship is named for a Marine who was awarded the Medal of Honor after shielding fellow Marines from a grenade at the Battle of Bunker Hill during the Korean War.

The keel was laid on the same day last week that the shipyard began construction of the future USNS Lucy Stone, a John Lewis-class fleet oiler.

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

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