On Saturday General Dynamics NASSCO christened the Expeditionary Sea Base USNS Hershel “Woody” Williams, a most unsexy but important US Navy ship.
The ship’s namesake, Hershel “Woody” Williams, a Marine who received the Medal of Honor for his actions in the Battle of Iwo Jima during World War II, spoke at the ceremony. He is the last surviving recipient of the Medal of Honor from that battle.
“Every day we as shipbuilders and repairers come together to be a part of something much larger than ourselves.” said NASSCO President Kevin Graney. “The ships we design, construct and maintain serve a mission that is vital to our nation and the defense of freedom. Like every Marine, this ship is adaptable. Like its namesake, this ship is a force multiplier.”
USNS Hershel “Woody” Williams is the Navy’s second ESB ship. The 784-foot-long ship will serve as a flexible platform to support a variety of missions, including air mine countermeasures, counter-piracy operations, maritime security and humanitarian missions. The ship will provide for accommodations for up to 250 personnel, a 52,000-square-foot flight deck, fuel and equipment storage to support helicopters or tilt-rotor aircraft.
Following the ceremony harbor pilot Bill Bartsch maneuvered the ship out of San Diego Bay for sea trials. Provided she gets a clean sweep, the vessel will be delivered to the U.S. Navy in February 2018.
General Dynamics NASSCO has delivered three ships in the class to the Navy: USNS Montford Point (ESD 1), USNS John Glenn (ESD 2) and USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB 3). USNS Hershel “Woody” Williams (ESB 4) is the fourth ship to be constructed by NASSCO shipbuilders under the program. A fifth ship is currently under construction, with a planned delivery of March 2019, and funding for a sixth ship has passed several Congressional committees.