JUNE 27, 2022 – Expeditionary sea base USNS John L. Canley (ESB-6), Military Sealift Command’s newest ship, was christened during a ceremony at the General Dynamics NASSCO shipyard in San Diego, Calif., on June 26, 2022.
The event was attended by VIP guests including the Honorable Meredith Berger, Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Energy, Installations and Environment); Lt. Gen. Michael Langley, commander, U.S. Marine Forces Command; Vice Adm. Ross Myers, commander, U.S. Fleet Cyber Command/10th Fleet; Sgt. Maj. David Wilson, Command Sergeant Major, 1st Marine Division; Thomas Kiss, director, Ship Management, Military Sealift Command; Captain, Austin Hanbury, Canley’s civil service master; Jason Briggs, Canley’s Chief Engineer, the ship’s crew, and Sailors from the ships pre-commissioning unit, and five Medal of Honor recipients.
The 784 foot ship honors Gunnery Sgt. John L. Canley, a United States Marine who distinguished himself in battle during the Viet Nam war, in January/February 1968, during the Battle of Huế, with Company A, 1st Battalion, 1st Marines. Canley was originally awarded the Navy Cross but this was upgraded to the Medal of Honor, fifty years after the battle, making him the first living Black Marine to receive the nation’s highest military decoration for valor. The only previous Black recipients in the Marine Corps who received the medal posthumously.
“If we operate this great ship with a fraction of the skill, tenacity and courage displayed by John Canley, our naval service will be well-positioned to meet the challenges that lie ahead!” said Kiss during his remarks during the ceremony.
The official christening moment happened when the ship’s sponsor, Canley’s daughter, Patricia Sargent ,broke a bottle of champagne over the ship’s bow with the words, “For the United States of America, I christen you the USNS John L. Canley. May God bless this ship and all who sail on her.”
“What we christen today is not just a ship,” said Dave Carver, president, General Dynamics NASSCO. “It is the embodiment of American unity and purpose; a beacon of freedom that will carry John Canley’s legacy and the legacy of America to people all over the world.”
Canley is the sixth ship in the expeditionary mobile base platform build for MSC, and the third expeditionary staging base model. When activated, Canley will primarily support aviation mine countermeasure and special operations force missions. In addition to the flight deck, the ship has a hangar with two aviation operating spots capable of handling MH-53E Sea Dragon-equivalent helicopters; accommodations, work spaces, and ordnance storage for embarked force; enhanced command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence to support embarked force mission planning and execution; and reconfigurable mission deck area to store embarked force equipment to include mine sleds and rigid hull inflatable boats.
“Navy forces are more important than ever in building global security, projecting power, deterring foes, and rapidly responding to crisis that affect our national security. To do that we have to be forward, engaged, and ready,” said Kiss. “This expeditionary sea base will do all those things and much more, providing our leadership with options and maneuver space; and supporting the Joint Force through a unique combination of aviation support, equipment staging, command and control, and most importantly, a well-trained crew.”
Canley will be delivered to the MSC fleet later this year, where it will undergo testing and qualifications in preparation for its support of a variety of maritime-based missions, including Special Operations Forces and Airborne Mine Counter Measures support operations, humanitarian and traditional military missions.
Story by Sarah Burford
Military Sealift Command Pacific