Drydock Collapse at General Dynamics NASSCO Shipyard Floods U.S. Navy Ship Under Construction

A barrier collapse at the General Dynamics NASSCO shipyard in San Diego Wednesday night resulted in the flooding of the dry dock in which a U.S. Navy ship was being constructed.

The ship under construction was an expeditionary mobile base (ESB), the future USNS Miguel Keith (T-ESB-5). Miguel Keith had her keel laid on 30 January 2018 with an expected delivery date to the U.S. Navy of August 2019. It is currently not known, the extent of damage to the ship and how long the incident would delay construction.

“Last night, there was a flooding incident with the graving dock used to support construction of the future USNS Miguel Keith (ESB 5). There were no injuries. The ship is safe and in stable condition. Personnel are currently assessing impact to the ship”, said a statement from NASSCO on July 12.

According to the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department (SDFD), the flooding was caused by the collapse of a barrier that holds water.

“On July 11, General Dynamics National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (GD-NASSCO) reported a flooding incident in its graving dock where Miguel Keith (ESB 5) is currently under construction,” DefenseNews quoted Colleen O’Rourke, a spokesperson with the U.S. Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA). “The ship floated off the docking blocks and took on water through hull cuts that were made to support the ship’s construction and outfitting.”

“The extent of damage to the ship will not be known until NASSCO and Navy personnel can fully assess the situation. Miguel Keith is currently in a safe and stable condition and all personnel are safe and accounted for”, she added.

The footage captured on Thursday afternoon by SkyFOX showed the broken graving dock and floating debris after the damaging incident.

National Steel and Shipbuilding Company, commonly referred to as NASSCO, is an American shipbuilding company with three shipyards located in San Diego, Norfolk, and Mayport. It is a division of General Dynamics.

The San Diego shipyard specializes in constructing commercial cargo ships and auxiliary vessels for the U.S. Navy and Military Sealift Command (MSC); it is the only new-construction shipyard on the West Coast of the United States.

USNS Miguel Keith (T-ESB-5)

USNS Miguel Keith (T-ESB-5) is an expeditionary mobile base (ESB) vessel under construction for the United States Navy.

The ship was named in honor of Lance Corporal Miguel Keith, U.S. Marine Corps, who received the Medal of Honor posthumously for combat action in Quang Ngai Province during the Vietnam War in 1970.

Expeditionary Mobile Base (ESB)

ESB vessels are designed to support low-intensity missions, allowing more expensive, high-value amphibious warfare ships and surface combatant warships to be re-tasked for more demanding operational missions for the U.S. Navy. These ESB variants are slated to operate in the Middle East and the Pacific Ocean.

They are capable of supporting special forces missions, counter-piracy/smuggling operations, maritime security operations, and mine clearance, as well as humanitarian aid and disaster relief missions. In order to support these extended roles, the ESBs will have military detachments in addition to the civil service mariners.

The ESBs include a four spot flight deck and hangar and a versatile mission deck and are designed around four core capabilities: aviation facilities, berthing, equipment staging support, and command and control assets. The ESBs will operate as the component commander requires providing the U.S. Navy fleet with a critical access infrastructure that supports the flexible deployment of forces and supplies.

Montford Point class ESD/ ESB

The Montford Point class is comprised of five ships across two variants (ESB and Expeditionary Transfer Dock, ESD) in support of the Maritime Prepositioning Force. USNS Montford Point (T-ESD 1) and USNS John Glenn (T-ESD 2) have been delivered and are currently in service.

The first of the ESB variant, USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB 3), was delivered to the fleet in 2015 as a USNS ship. In August 2017, the ship was commissioned as an USS ship on station in Bahrain. The USNS Hershel “Woody” Williams (ESB 4) was christened in October last year and delivered to Military Sealift Command earlier this year.

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