Second US Navy Expeditionary Sea Base Hershel “Woody” Williams hits the water

Early evening view of USNS Hershel “Woody” Williams following the float-out. Photo: NASSCO

The US Navy’s second Expeditionary Sea Base USNS Hershel “Woody” Williams was floated out by shipbuilder General Dynamics NASSCO on August 19.

During the float out, NASSCO moved the ship from a graving dock to one of its piers for the next phase of construction.

As part of the process, seawater flows into the graving dock, gradually raising the ship until it floats on its own.

Named after retired U.S. Marine and Medal of Honor recipient, Hershel Woodrow “Woody” Williams, the 784-foot-long ship will serve as a flexible platform to support a variety of missions, including 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, and will also support MH-53 and MH-60 helicopters with an option to support MV-22 tilt-rotor aircraft. The ship is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 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 USNS Lewis B. Puller (ESB 3). In addition to USNS Hershel “Woody” Williams (ESB 4), a fifth ship as part of the program is under construction at NASSCO.

Hershel “Woody” Williams’s predecessor, the USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB 3), was recommissioned from a Military Sealift Command ship to a full-blown warship in Bahrain last week.

Turning the Puller into a commissioned warship will provide the navy with greater operational flexibility which it needs to respond to a security environment that has become “faster paced, more complex and increasingly competitive”, the US Navy said.

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