SAN DIEGO - A native of Aberdeen, Washington, is serving aboard one of the nation’s newest, most versatile warships, the future USS Miguel Keith (ESB-5).
Airman Paulian Beardsley is a 2019 Aberdeen High School graduate. According to Beardsley, the values required to succeed in the Navy are like those found in Aberdeen. “Living in my hometown taught me the importance of hard work and being confident,” Beardsley said. "Leaving my hometown also taught me that no matter how rough things get, it is imperative to stay positive."
Miguel Keith is an Expeditionary Sea Base (ESB) ship that will be commissioned by the U.S. Navy on May 8 in San Diego. Ship commissioning is a naval tradition that places a ship in active service.
The ship is named in honor of Marine Corps Vietnam veteran and Medal of Honor recipient Lance Cpl. Miguel Keith and is the first ship to bear the name. Miguel Keith was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism in Vietnam in May 1970.
ESB-5 is the third Expeditionary Sea Base (ESB) variant of the Expeditionary Transfer Dock platform (ESD). Expeditionary Mobile Base was previously known as Afloat Forward Staging Base (AFSB) in the Mobile Landing Platform (MLP) program. ESBs are highly flexible platforms that provide logistics movement from sea to shore supporting a broad range of military operations. The ESB variant is designed around four core capabilities: aviation, berthing, equipment staging area, and command and control.
Mrs. Eliadora Delores Keith, Miguel Keith’s mother, will serve as the ship’s sponsor. As part of a time-honored Navy tradition during the ceremony, Mrs. Keith, will give the first order to “man our ship and bring her to life.”
The ship’s Commanding Officer, Capt. Troy A. Fendrick, reported the ship as ready and the crew is excited to begin their mission.
“Preparing a warship to enter the surface fleet is a privilege and the Miguel Keith crew has done an exceptional job during this challenging time,” said Fendrick. "I am proud of our Sailors’ and Civil Service Mariners steadfast dedication to ship and each other. I am honored to serve as their commanding officer as we bring the ship to life.”
Sailors’ jobs are highly varied aboard Miguel Keith. Roughly 100 military officers and crew, plus 45 Military Sealift Command personnel make up the ship’s company, and they keep all parts of the ship running smoothly. Each crew member performs a number of tasks outside of their traditional job or rating.
Beardsley is an aviation ordnanceman responsible for maintaining the armory and its weapons in addition to, ensuring ordnance is safely received and off loaded when necessary.
“We are taught to be subject matter experts on the safety and operation of every weapon we use,” Beardsley said.
With more than 90% of all trade traveling by sea, and 95% of the world’s international phone and internet traffic carried through fiber optic cables lying on the ocean floor, Navy officials continue to emphasize that the prosperity and security of the United States is directly linked to a strong and ready Navy.
According to Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday, four priorities will focus efforts on sailors, readiness, capabilities and capacity.
“For 245 years, in both calm and rough waters, our Navy has stood the watch to protect the homeland, preserve freedom of the seas, and defend our way of life,” Gilday said. “The decisions and investments we make this decade will set the maritime balance of power for the rest of this century. We can accept nothing less than success.”
Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction within their command, community and career,Beardsley is most proud of achieving the Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist (ESWS) qualification. ESWS qualified sailors are technical experts within their rating who understand watchstanding requirements, and are proficient firefighters – they take their skill, knowledge, and understanding to the next level.
“It was really tough but worth it,” Beardsley said. "I was temporarily assigned to another ship for three months, so I was learning that ship and was working long days and up studying late every night. It was demanding but very rewarding at the same time."
Serving in the Navy is a family affair for Beardsley, who joined with her twin sister. Beardsley is honored to begin this family tradition of military service.
As a member of the U.S. Navy, Beardsley, as well as other sailors, know they are a part of a service tradition providing unforgettable experiences through leadership development, world affairs and humanitarian assistance. Their efforts will have a lasting effect around the globe and for generations of sailors who will follow.
“It is a privilege and an honor,” Beardsley added.
Due to public health and safety concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the commissioning will be a private event, rather than the traditional public commissioning ceremony.
The event will be livestreamed to allow viewing by the general public at https://allhands.navy.mil/Media/Live-Stream/.