The Navy’s latest Expeditionary Sea Base ship officially entered the fleet on Saturday.
The service commissioned USS Miguel Keith (ESB-5) in a ceremony at Naval Air Station North Island, Calif., the service said in a statement.
The new ESB will be based out of Saipan in the Northern Mariana Islands, according to the Navy.
“Capt. Troy A. Fendrick, a native of Tempe, Arizona, is the ship’s commanding officer and leads a crew of roughly 100 military officers and crew, alongside 44 Military Sealift Civil Service Mariners. The ship is 785 feet in length, has a beam of 164 feet, and a navigational draft of approximately 39 feet,” the Navy said.
“The ship, named in honor of Marine Corps Vietnam veteran and Medal of Honor recipient Lance Cpl. Miguel Keith, was built in San Diego by General Dynamics NASSCO and was delivered to the Navy on Nov. 15, 2019.”
U.S. Southern Command chief Adm. Craig Faller spoke at the ceremony.
Miguel Keith‘s commissioning comes after a flood in the summer of 2018 at the NASSCO dry dock knocked the ship off its blocks and caused the hull to take on water, subsequently delaying its delivery by approximately six months, USNI News previously reported.
The Navy previously planned for the ESBs to be Military Sealift Command ships with a USNS designation, but in early 2020 the service announced it would commission all ESBs as warships.
“This re-designation provides combatant commanders greater operational flexibility to employ this platform in accordance with the laws of armed conflict,” a Navy spokesman told USNI News at the time.
“The Secretary of the Navy approved the commissioning of all ESBs following feedback from the employment of ESB-3 and expected employment of subsequent ships of the class. Prior to commissioning, the ESB class was limited to defensive actions during times governed by the laws of armed conflict. Post commissioning, these ships have greater mission flexibility throughout the [range of military operations].”
In 2017, the service commissioned USS Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller (ESB-3) as a warship so the Navy could better use the platform in various missions and operations in the Middle East, where the ship is based.
USNI News previously reported that Puller’s crew had been experimenting with both mine countermeasures and helping amphibious ships with their missions in the region.
USS Hershel “Woody” Williams (ESB-4), the Navy’s second ESB, left last summer for its first deployment and is now based out of Souda Bay, Greece.