Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro named a future Expeditionary Sea Base after Marine Corps veteran PFC Hector Cafferata Jr., who served during the Korean War and fought a one-man campaign against North Korean forces at Chosin Reservoir.
Del Toro announced the expeditionary sea base’s name during a ceremony at the National Museum of the Marine Corps Thursday, which marked the 70th anniversary of the signing of the Korean War Armistice agreement.
According to a Navy press release, naming an expeditionary sea base after a Marine follows the naming tradition for the class.
“And while there is no higher honor our Nation can bestow upon Private First Class Cafferata than the Medal of Honor, I am filled with a great sense of pride to announce today that our Fleet will be memorializing his actions by naming Lewis B. Puller Class Expeditionary Sea Base 8 (ESB-8)… Hector A. Cafferata Jr.,” Del Toro said during the ceremony.
Cafferata, a son of a Peruvian immigrant, joined the Marine Corps Reserve after high school. He was called to active duty in September 1950. By November 1950, he was in Korea, serving as a rifleman with the 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, according to a Navy release.
After members of his fire team were wounded or killed, Cafferata wages a one-man attack against the enemy forces. An enemy fighter threw a grenade toward the Marine unit during his fight. Cafferata grabbed the grenade and threw it away from his fellow Marines, injuring his right arm and hand. He continued fighting against the enemy until he was struck by enemy fire and required medical evacuation.
The Navy awarded General Dynamics NASSCO $1.4 billion in August 2022 to build the future Hector A. Cafferata Jr. The shipyard also built John L. Canley (ESB-6) and the future Robert E. Simanek (ESB-7).
“This class of expeditionary sea base ships—named for Marines who distinguished themselves in combat—are critical to our Fleet and our Joint Force, enabling a wide range of military operations. They enable the deployment of forces and supplies in all maritime environments around the globe, providing key prepositioned equipment and sustainment activities to our Marines and Sailors, both at-sea and ashore,” Del Toro said in his speech.
The ESBs are modified versions of NASSCO’s Alaska-class tankers that serve as sea bases for mine-counter measure and special operations forces.