VANCOUVER, Wa. Army Col. Jered Helwig, the Army's Chief of Transportation and Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler from Washington's 3rd Congressional District performed ceremonial welds on the keel of the Army's newest watercraft during a ceremony in Vancouver, Wa. Monday, Sept. 16, 2019.

The Maneuver Support Vessel (Light), built by Vigor Works, a Vancouver-based company, is designed to meet future multi-domain operation maritime needs by delivering combat configured equipment, people, vehicles and sustainment cargo like fuel and water, from forward locations through degraded and austere ports, inland waterways, remote and unimproved beaches, and coastlines including anti access, area denial environments.

The watercraft is a shallow draft, high speed, digital vessel with a total 82 tons payload capacity. Once the first vessel has been built and tested, the low rate initial production phase will begin producing four MSV(L) vessels followed by full rate production. The first vessel is expected to launch In November of 2020.

Army watercraft has a documented history of expanding a commander's movement and maneuver options in support of unified land operations dating back to extensive operations in World War II, the Korean conflict, and the Vietnam War. More recent examples include actions supporting Operations' Just Cause (Panama), Restore Hope (Somalia), Uphold Democracy (Haiti), Allied Force (Kosovo), and the Global War on Terrorism.

Guest speakers at the keel-laying ceremony included Anne McEerny-Ogle the Mayor of Vancouver, Timothy Goddette, the U.S. Army Program Executive Office Combat Support and Combat Service Support Officer and representatives from Vigor Works including Chief Executive Officer Frank Foti.

The first MSV(L) is dedicated to the sacrifice and memory of Army Staff Sgt. Elroy F. Wells. Wells was born in Ponca City, Okla. and enlisted into the military in 1951. In 1970, Wells was on his third tour to Vietnam while assigned to the 1099th Transportation Company. On Dec. 27 his company was attacked and the landing craft he was in was hit by a rocket. Wells was among the soldiers killed in action. Wells' sacrifice will be immortalized in the name of the first 21st century Maneuver Support Vessel as it takes to sea.