US ship USNS Robert E. Simanek christened in ceremony

The USNS Robert E. Simanek, the latest addition to the US Navy’s Expeditionary Sea Base programme, was christened at the General Dynamics NASSCO shipyard in San Diego in a ceremony attended by dignitaries and military officials. 

The USNS Robert E. Simanek (ESB-7) was also a tribute to the bravery and sacrifice of Private 1st Class Robert E. Simanek, a hero of the Korean War.

Representatives from General Dynamics NASSCO and the Military Sealift Command (MSC) joined forces to unveil the seventh vessel in the Expeditionary Sea Base (ESB) programme. The event drew a distinguished gathering, including political figures, military leaders, and members of the Simanek family, all united in honouring the ship’s namesake.

The daughter of the late hero, Ann Simanek Clark, bestowed the traditional christening honour upon the vessel. 

Construction on the USNS Robert E. Simanek started in December 2021, and the keel was authenticated just short of a year later, in October 2022. These 784-foot ships are configured with a 52,000 square-foot flight deck to support MH-53, MH-60, MV-22 tilt-rotor, and H1 aircraft operations.

The vessel is poised to undertake a range of maritime missions, from supporting Special Operations Forces to conducting airborne mine countermeasure operations.

The USNS Hector A. Cafferata Jr. (ESB 8), the sixth ship in the ESB programme, is scheduled to be christened in 2025. The first four ships in the ESB programme – USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB 3), USS Hershel “Woody” Williams (ESB 4), USS Miguel Keith (ESB 5), and USS John L. Canley (ESB 6) – have been delivered to the US Navy.

In October 2023, General Dynamics NASSCO clinched a contract from the US Navy worth up to $754m. This agreement entailed modernising, maintaining, and repairing two Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, the USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93) and the USS James E. Williams (DDG 95). 

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