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The ship commissioning ceremony has been observed by many navies around the world for more than three centuries and in our own fleet since 1775, when the first ship of the Continental Navy, the Alfred, was commissioned.Once commissioned, a ship becomes a Navy command and joins the other active ships in the fleet.
The ship’s namesake is Marine Corps Vietnam War veteran and Medal of Honor recipient Lance Cpl. Miguel Keith. Born 2 June 1951, in San Antonio, Texas, Keith enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in January of 1969 after graduating from North High School in Omaha, Nebraska, the previous year.
After completing training in September of 1969, Keith was assigned a rifleman with the 1st Combined Action Group, III Marine Amphibious Force, operating in the Republic of Vietnam at the time. Keith was fatally wounded in May of 1970 when his platoon came under a heavy ground-attack by enemy forces in Quang Ngai Province, Vietnam.
Keith was further wounded when a grenade exploded near his position, though he again concentrated his fire on an estimated 25 enemy soldiers preparing to attack, this time eliminating four and again causing the remainder to disperse. It was during these efforts that Keith was fatally wounded by an enemy soldier.
Keith’s actions in the face of overwhelming odds greatly contributed to the success of his platoon in routing a numerically superior enemy force, and upheld the finest traditions of the Marine Corps and of the U.S. Naval Service.
Miguel Keith is an Expeditionary Sea Base (ESB). ESBs are flexible, modular platforms and can be used across a broad range of military operations supporting multiple operational phases, much like the Expeditionary Transfer Dock (ESD) class.
The ship’s capabilities include a four-spot flight deck, a hanger bay able to store and operate two MH-53E Sea Dragon type helicopters, command and control assets, and equipment staging support, storage for mine sled and rigid hull inflatable boats, as well as accommodations and work spaces for the crew.
After commissioning, Miguel Keith will mainly be deployed in support of aviation mine countermeasures and special forces operations as well as humanitarian and traditional military missions.
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