The keel for the future USS John L. Canley (ESB 6), the Navy’s fourth Expeditionary Sea Base (ESB), was laid at General Dynamics National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (GD-NASSCO) shipyard in San Diego on April 30.
The ship is named for Medal of Honor Recipient Marine Corps Sergeant Major (Retired) John L. Canley.
Canley 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.
“Sergeant Major Canley’s story is one of service, honor, and commitment. All those who serve aboard his namesake ship will carry on his distinguished legacy,” said Tim Roberts, Strategic and Theater Sealift program manager, Program Executive Office, Ships. “These mobile, modular sea base ships are optimized to support the needs of our Sailors and Marines while providing critical access in the maritime domain.”
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 are 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.
These ships support Aviation Mine Countermeasure and Special Operations Force missions. In addition to the flight deck, the ESB has 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 (C4I). These 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.
As one of the Defense Department's largest acquisition organizations, PEO Ships is responsible for executing the development and procurement of all destroyers, amphibious ships, sealift ships, support ships, boats, and craft.