Navy Launches ESB Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams
SAN DIEGO — The Navy launched expeditionary sea base Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams (ESB 4) at the General Dynamics NASSCO shipyard Aug. 19, the Navy announced in an Aug. 22 release.
The launch of ESB 4 involved slowly flooding the launching dock with water until the ship could freely float for the first time. Following launch, the ship completed construction and final outfitting before going to sea to complete a series of tests and trials prior to delivery in early 2018.
“We’re making tremendous progress on this ship,” said Capt. Scot Searles, Strategic Sealift and Theater Sealift program manager, Program Executive Office Ships. “We’ll begin powering many of the ships engines and systems as early as next month as we prepare to get underway for sea trials in the coming months.”
The ESB will primarily support aviation mine countermeasure and special operations force missions. In addition to the flight deck, the ESB has a hangar with two aviation operating spots capable of handling MH-53E Sea Dragon-equivalent helicopters; accommodations, work spaces, and ordnance storage for embarked force; enhanced command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence to support embarked force mission planning and execution; and reconfigurable mission deck area to store embarked force equipment to include mine sleds and rigid hull inflatable boats.
GD-NASSCO is currently under contract to build ESB 5, which started fabrication in January and the keel laying is planned for early September. They are also the construction yard for the Navy’s John Lewis-class fleet replenishment oilers.