« The ship was underway conducting at sea testing in preparation for delivery later this year, » NAVSEA stated. The USNS Miguel Keith was damaged while under construction when the NASSCO drydock was accidentally flooded on 11 July 2018. Construction of the vessel was then delayed for several months.
The vessel will be the US Navy’s third Expeditionary Sea Base (ESB) ship, and the fifth auxiliary overall delivered by NASSCO under the Montford Point-class
The Montford Point-class is comprised of five ships across two variants 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 (T-ESB 4) was christened in October and is expected to deliver to Military Sealift Command at the end of February.
ESBs are highly flexible, modular platforms that are optimized to support a variety of maritime based missions including Special Operations Force and Airborne Mine Counter Measures support operations in addition to humanitarian support and sustainment of traditional military missions.
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.