The U.S. Navy’s newest Expeditionary Sea Base (ESB) vessel, the future USNS Miguel Keith (T-ESB-5) successfully completed acceptance trials on Oct. 11.
The trials were conducted off the coast of southern California after departure from the General Dynamics National Steel and Shipbuilding Co. (NASSCO) shipyard in San Diego. During the week of trials, the Navy’s Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) conducted comprehensive tests to demonstrate and evaluate the performance of all of the ship’s major systems.
“Our ESBs are bringing tremendous operational capability to our combatant commanders. These ships are supporting a wide variety of mission sets in the 5th and 6th Fleet and more recently have demonstrated their ability to integrate mine countermeasure mission packages,” said Capt. Scot Searles, Strategic Sealift and Theater Sealift program manager, Program Executive Office Ships. “These sea trials demonstrated the high quality of this ship and its readiness to join the fight.”
ESBs are highly flexible, modular platforms that are optimized to support a variety of maritime-based missions including Special Operations Force (SOF) and Airborne Mine Counter Measures (AMCM) support operations in addition to humanitarian support and sustainment of traditional military missions.
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. 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.
The future USNS Miguel Keith (T-ESB-5) is the third platform of the ESB variant and is scheduled to be delivered to the Navy in early fiscal 2020.
The vessel was named in honor of Marine Corps Vietnam veteran and Medal of Honor recipient Miguel Keith during a ceremony in National Harbor, Maryland, Nov. 4, 2017. The keel laying for the vessel was conducted on Jan. 30 last year.
The first two vessels of the ESB class, USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB-3) and USNS Hershel “Woody” Williams (T-ESB-4), are already delivered.
The ESB vessels are/will be operated by the Navy’s Military Sealift Command (MSC) with predominantly civilian crews, with the exception of USS Lewis B. Puller, which owing to the nature of her operations, was commissioned and now operated directly by the Navy with USN crews. After commissioning on 17 August 2017 in Bahrain, Lewis B. Puller’s prefix changed from USNS to USS and her hull designation changed from T-ESB-3 to ESB-3.
GD-NASSCO is also under contract for detail design and construction of ESB 6 and 7, with an option for ESB 8.