SAIPAN – The U.S. Navy on Saturday commissioned its newest expeditionary sea base vessel, the USS Miguel Keith, which will operate from Saipan.

The commissioning ceremony took place Saturday morning at Naval Air Station North Island in Coronado, California.

Special Assistant to the Governor for Military Affairs Glenna Sakisat Palacios said based on the information provided to the CNMI, the USS Miguel Keith will be part of the Forward Deployed Naval Force operating from Saipan to "provide logistics movement from sea to shore, supporting a broad range of humanitarian and military operations."

Adm. Craig Faller, commander, U.S. Southern Command, delivered the commissioning ceremony's principal remarks.

He said the Miguel Keith "would be on the front line of global conflict against threats to the United States – particularly China."

"The Chinese Communist Party – with its insidious and corrupt influence – seeks global dominance and to impose its version of international order," he said. "To continue winning this global competition, we must be at the top of our game. We need to keep developing the best technology and the best ships, like you see here today."

Eliadora Delores Keith, Lance Cpl. Miguel Keith's mother, is the ship's sponsor. The ceremony was highlighted by a time-honored Navy tradition in which the sponsor gives the order to "man our ship and bring her to life!"

Capt. Troy Fendrick, a native of Tempe, Arizona, is the ship's commanding officer and leads a crew of roughly 100 military officers and sailors, alongside 44 Military Sealift Civil Service mariners.

The ship, which cost $525 million, is 785 feet in length, has a beam of 164 feet and a navigational draft of approximately 39 feet.

The ship was named in honor of Medal of Honor recipient Marine Lance Cpl. Miguel Keith, who died in action in Vietnam when he was 18.

The USS Miguel Keith was built in San Diego by General Dynamics NASSCO and was delivered to the Navy on Nov. 15, 2019.