The US Navy has announced that the construction of the fourth Expeditionary Sea Base (ESB) ship has officially commenced.

The General Dynamics National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (GD-NASSCO) shipyard in San Diego, California, is developing the vessel designated as ESB 6.

ESB ships are designed as flexible platforms to support the logistical movements and deployment of forces for various military operations.

Program Executive Office – Ships strategic and theater sealift program manager Tim Roberts said: “This is a great navy day as we mark the start of construction on the fourth ship in a class of flexible, adaptable ships that will provide our combatant commanders with enhanced capabilities.

“The ESB platform has proven to be a valuable addition to the navy and Marine Corps battle force.”

Typically, ESBs support Aviation Mine Countermeasure and Special Operations Force missions.

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Such vessels feature a flight deck and a hangar to support MH-53E equivalent helicopter landings. The ESBs include accommodations, work spaces and ordnance storage for embarked force.

The ships are also equipped with command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence (C4I) to support the embarked force with mission planning and execution.

Last year, the navy commissioned all ESB ships to equip them for a broader mission set.

A navy O-6 commands the ESBs with a crew comprising military personnel and Military Sealift Command civilian mariners.

NASSCO has also been contracted for building the ESB 7, with an option for constructing the ESB 8.