US Navy Commissions New Expeditionary Ship USS John L. Canley

The US Navy has commissioned a new Expeditionary Sea Base (ESB) vessel to improve the country’s military sea-to-shore logistics operations.

Named after a Vietnam-era Medal of Honor recipient, the USS John L. Canley (ESB 6) is a 784-foot (239-meter) ship designed to deploy troops and important cargo in regions where the US does not have easy access to land bases and seaports.

It has a four-spot flight deck, mission deck, and hangar and boasts four core capabilities: aviation support, berthing, equipment staging, and command and control.

During the ship’s commissioning in California, the navy performed several traditions, including a 19-gun salute, setting the vessel’s pennant, and manning the first watch.

More than 1,200 people witnessed the ceremony, including members of the Canley family, ship crew, Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro, and USS Canley Commanding Officer Capt. Thomas Mays.

“To anyone who had anything to do with the building of this ship, I say, ‘The Marines are ready to get on it, and get to it!’” Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Carlos Ruiz said.

The ESB 6 will join the USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB 3), USS Hershel Williams (ESB 4), and USS Miguel Keith (ESB 5) to support various maritime missions.


The new ship honors US Marine Corps veteran John L. Canley, who served as a company gunnery sergeant during the Battle of Hue City in 1968.

He was awarded the Medal of Honor in 2018 after carrying his wounded comrades to safety under heavy fire and sustaining an injury himself.

He assumed command of his company after their commanding officer was severely injured, leading attacks against enemy positions and successfully eliminating the threats.

Due to these heroics, Canley became the first African-American service member to receive the Medal of Honor within his lifetime.

He died on May 11, 2022.

“We, as Americans, have the unique opportunity to tell these stories and an obligation to learn from them,” Del Toro said. “We can only grow as a nation and as a fighting force by learning from our history.”

“It is my firm belief that USS John L. Canley will serve as an example to everyone who serves on this ship, or passes in her wake.”

USS John L. Canley
Hundreds of US Navy sailors attend the commissioning ceremony for the USS John L. Canley. Photo: Sarah Cannon/DVIDS

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