Formerly known as Mobile Landing Platform (MLP), the Expeditionary Transfer Dock (ESD) / Expeditionary Sea Base (ESB) is a new class of auxiliary vessels under construction for the US Navy.
According to information published by the United States Department of Defense (DoD), the US Navy has commissioned its newest expeditionary mobile base, the future USS Miguel Keith Expeditionary Sea Base (ESB 5) ship, during a ceremony on Saturday, May 8, 2021, at Naval Air Station North Island, Coronado, California.
The USS Miguel Keith is the third Expeditionary Sea Base (ESB). ESB was previously known as Afloat Forward Staging Base. These vessels are highly flexible platforms that provide logistics movement from sea to shore supporting a broad range of military operations. The ESB is designed around four core capabilities: aviation facilities, berthing, equipment staging area, and command and control.
The Miguel Keith (T-ESB-5) is a Lewis B. Puller-class expeditionary mobile base that was built by the National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (NASSCO), a division of General Dynamics. The Expeditionary Sea Base (ESB) is the centerpiece of the U.S. Navy’s forward-deployed airborne mine countermeasures mission (AMCM). It will support the operations and maintenance of airborne mine countermeasures from detachment personnel and equipment.
T-ESB is a heavy-lift ship based primarily on the British Petroleum Alaska-class oil tanker design. The cargo area has been modified with a large mission deck, elevated flight deck (with aircraft hangar facilities), and military accommodations and workspaces for 250 personnel. The ship utilizes the same base ship as the Expeditionary Transfer Dock (T-ESD) class.
The ESBs are configured with a 52,000 square-foot flight deck, fuel and equipment storage, repair spaces, magazines, mission planning spaces and accommodations for up to 250 personnel. The ships are capable of supporting multiple missions including Air Mine Counter Measures (AMCM), counter-piracy operations, maritime security operations, humanitarian aid and disaster relief missions and U.S. Marine Corps crisis response. It will also support MH-53 and MH-60 helicopters and will be upgraded to support MV-22 tiltrotor aircraft.
Self-defense capability is limited to crew-served weapons only. The T-ESB was designed to operate in a non-hostile environment with low/negligible threats to the ship. However, mine countermeasure (MCM) operations may require the ship to operate close to littoral threat areas. The lack of self-defense capability renders the ship dependent upon other naval combatants and joint forces for protection in the littoral operating environment.
The USS Miguel Keith has an overall length of 239 m, a beam of 50 m, and a displacement of 90,000 tons. The propulsion system of the ship includes FM/MAN 6L48/60 Common Rail (CR) Medium-Speed Engines and a 24 MW diesel-electric plant. She can reach a top speed of 15 knots (28 km/h) with a maximum cruising range of 9,500 nautical miles (17,594 km).