Keel Ceremony for USNS Miguel Keith (ESB 5)

SAN DIEGO – A time honored ceremony was held at General Dynamics NASSCO on January 30, 2018.

Keel laying is a long-recognized tradition of laying down the backbone of a ship. It is a milestone that marks when a ship begins to come to life. With the help of our NASSCO weld team, Mrs. Mary Easley, matron of honor and close friend of the Keith Family, welded Mrs. Delores Keith’s initials, the mother of the ship’s namesake, onto the keel plate. These initials will be a permanent part of the ship’s structure.

Miguel Keith, a native of San Antonio, Texas, began serving his country during the Vietnam War at the age of 18. On May 8, 1970, his platoon was subjected to heavy ground attack by an enemy force greatly outnumbering their own. Miguel was seriously wounded. Despite his injuries, Lance Corporal Keith demonstrated conspicuous gallantry and courage under fire. He ran across fire-swept terrain to deliver a hail of devastating machine-gun fire against the enemy.

A grenade detonated near Keith, injuring him further.

He got up again and charged an estimated 25 enemy soldiers who were massing to attack.

The vigor of his assault and his well-placed gun fire eliminated four enemy soldiers and caused the rest to retreat. Miguel’s heroic efforts contributed to the success of his platoon that day. During this combat, Miguel sustained mortal injuries.

Miguel’s valor and undaunted courage as a United States Marine resulted in him being posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

The USNS Miguel Keith (ESB 5) will carry Miguel’s legacy and the legacy of America to people all over the world. The men and women of General Dynamics NASSCO are honored to build this ship that will bear his name.

Matron of Honor Mary Easley welds the initials of Lance Corporal Miguel Keith’s mother.
The initials of Delores Keith, mother of ESB 5’s namesake Miguel Keith, will be a permanent part of the ship’s structure.
NASSCO employees and guests gather for the time honored keel laying ceremony for ESB 5.