Expeditionary sea base John L. Canley — named after Medal of Honor recipient Marine Sgt. Maj. John Canley — was christened Saturday in San Diego.

Military Sealift Command is slated to receive the expeditionary sea base in 2022 to undergo testing and qualifications for a variety of maritime operations, including aviation mine countermeasure and special operations force missions.

The 784-foot ship is the sixth expeditionary mobile base built for Military Sealift Command, and the fourth expeditionary mobile base of the Puller class: the Lewis B. Puller (ESB 3), Hershel “Woody” Williams (ESB 4); Miguel Keith (ESB 5); and John L. Canley (ESB 6). It is outfitted with a flight deck and two aviation operating spots for MH-53E Sea Dragon-equivalent helicopters.

“Navy forces are more important than ever in building global security, projecting power, deterring foes and rapidly responding to crises that affect our national security,” Thomas Kiss, director of ship management at Military Sealift Command, said in a Navy news release. “To do that we have to be forward, engaged and ready. 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, who died in May from cancer, received the Navy Cross in 1968 for his actions in Hue City, Vietnam, where he and other Marines from Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, warded off multiple attacks while relieving another Marine company.

Canley’s award citation says he “repeatedly rushed across gunfire-swept terrain” and rescued more than 20 Marines amid these attacks.

Canley’s Navy Cross was upgraded to the Medal of Honor in 2018. He was the first living Black Marine to receive the Medal of Honor.

Patricia Sargent, Canley’s daughter, christened the ship as she broke a bottle of champagne over the ship’s bow.

Others who attended the christening ceremony at General Dynamics NASSCO shipyard included Meredith Berger, assistant secretary of the Navy; Lt. Gen. Michael Langley, commander of U.S. Marine Forces Command and Dave Carver, president of General Dynamics NASSCO.

“What we christen today is not just a ship,” Carver said in the release. “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.”

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