General Dynamics National Steel and Shipbuilding Company recently laid the keel for the Navy’s next Expeditionary Sea Base, the service announced today.
NASSCO on Friday laid the keel for the future USS Robert E. Simanek (ESB-7) at its San Diego, Calif., shipyard.
“The ship is named for Private First Class Robert Ernest Simanek, who was awarded the Medal of Honor for shielding fellow Marines from a grenade at the Battle of Bunker Hill during the Korean War. The Medal of Honor was presented to him by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in a White House ceremony in 1953,” the service said in a news release.
Simanek, who was also awarded the Purple Heart, died in August at the age of 92, according to the Marines Corps Reserve.
“We are honored this ship will celebrate the late Robert E. Simanek’s legacy as a Medal of Honor recipient and Korean War veteran and his dedication to our country,” Tim Roberts, the program manager for strategic and theater sealift within the Program Executive Office Ships, said in the Navy news release. “ESBs provide a critical capability to the fleet and provide for increased flexibility.”
The Lewis B. Puller class ESBs were originally going to have the United States Naval Ship designation, but the Navy in 2019 decided to commission them into service.
Ann Simanek, Simanek’s daughter, is the ship’s sponsor, according to the Navy.
The hulls are based on the Alaska-class commercial oil tankers, which were also built at NASSCO. The first two built for the Navy – USNS Montford Point (ESD-1) and USNS John Glenn (ESD-2) – were planned for use as mobile landing platforms that would transfer vehicles from roll-on/roll-off logistics ships to landing craft at sea. The service plans to decommission the two original MLPs as part of the Fiscal Year 2023 budget submission, USNI News has reported.
USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB-3) was modified from the original Montford Point original design to serve as a platform for special operations and mine countermeasures forces. Puller has operated in U.S. Central Command since 2017. USS Woody Williams (ESB-4) has operated extensively in Europe and Africa, USNI News previously reported. USS Miguel Keith (ESB-5) deployed to the Western Pacific earlier this year. The most recent ESB, John L. Canley (ESB-6) is under construction.