The US Navy is set to christen its second Expeditionary Sea Base, the USNS Hershel “Woody” Williams on Saturday, October 21.
The ceremony will take place at General Dynamic’s San Diego shipyard and will see Martha P. Downs, Puller’s daughter and the ship’s sponsor, break a bottle over the ship’s bow.
Construction on the ship started in October 2015, its keel was laid in August 2016 and General Dynamics NASSCO launched it exactly a year later in August 2017.
The 784-foot-long ship is named after retired US Marine and Medal of Honor recipient, Hershel Woodrow “Woody” Williams and will serve as a flexible platform to support a variety of missions, including mine countermeasures, counter-piracy operations, maritime security and humanitarian missions.
With a a 52,000-square-foot flight deck, the ship will provide for accommodations for up to 250 personnel, fuel and equipment storage, and will also support MH-53 and MH-60 helicopters with an option to support MV-22 tilt-rotor aircraft.
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.
The first two ships, formerly classified as mobile landing platforms (MLPs), were designed and constructed by NASSCO to support vehicle staging and transfers, and the movement of LCAC vessels. In 2012, a third ship, USNS Lewis B. Puller (T-ESB 3), was added to the contract and reconfigured as an ESB, formerly known as a MLP afloat forward staging base, to support a wide range of military operations.