General Dynamics NASSCO Lays Keel for Future Navy Ship John L. Canley

U.S. Navy seal. Image via Department of the Navy.

San Diego-based General Dynamics NASSCO on April 30 laid the keel for the future U.S. Navy ship John L. Canley, the Navy’s fourth Expeditionary Sea Base (ESB).

Expeditionary Sea Base ships are highly flexible platforms used across a broad range of military operations supporting multiple operational phases.

Acting as a mobile sea base, they’re a part of the critical access infrastructure that supports the deployment of forces and supplies to provide prepositioned equipment and sustainment with adaptable distribution capability.

The latest ship is named for Medal of Honor recipient Marine Corps Sgt. Major (Retired) John L. Canley, who was awarded the nation’s highest honor 50 years after his actions serving as Company Gunnery Sergeant, Company A, First Battalion, First Marines, First Marine Division in the Republic of Vietnam during the Battle of Hue City.

“We are honored to be building this ship named for a young man who put the life of his fellow Marines ahead of himself,” GD-NASSCO spokesman Brian Jones said during the keel laying ceremony. “Sgt. Major Canley fought off multiple enemy attacks, took command of his company … and while in command, he led attacks against enemy-fortified positions while exposing himself to enemy fire while he worked to carry wounded Marines to safety.”

Canley, who is still alive but was unable to attend the keel laying ceremony, was awarded the Medal of Honor in 2018.

ESBs support Aviation Mine Countermeasure and Special Operations Force missions. In addition to a flight deck, ESBs have a hangar with two aviation operating spots capable of handling MH-53E equivalent helicopters, accommodations, workspaces, and ordnance storage for embarked force, enhanced command, control, communications, computers and intelligence.

“The ship has the third-largest flight deck in the Navy fleet and accommodates up to 250 Navy personnel,” NASSCO President David Carver said. “It’s a privilege to build a ship named after a true American hero

The ships support embarked force mission planning and execution and has a reconfigurable mission deck area to store embarked force equipment, including mine sleds and Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIBs).

In 2019, the Navy decided to commission all Expeditionary Sea Base ships to allow them to conduct a broader and more lethal mission set compared to original plans for them to operate with a USNS designation.

A Navy O-6 commands ESBs and a hybrid-manned crew of military personnel and Military Sealift Command civilian mariners. This crew makeup provides combatant commanders with increased operational flexibility in employing the platform.

Construction of the future USS Robert E. Simanek (ESB 7) and the Navy’s John Lewis Class Fleet Replenishment Oilers (T-AO) are ongoing at GD-NASSCO’s facilities.