General Dynamics NASSCO Christens USNS Hershel “Woody” Williams
SAN DIEGO — General Dynamics NASSCO hosted a christening and naming ceremony Oct. 21 for the Navy’s newest expeditionary sea base ship, USNS Hershel “Woody” Williams (ESB 4).
The ship’s namesake spoke at the ceremony, and his two daughters, Travie Ross and Tracie Ross, officially named and christened the ship with the traditional break of a champagne bottle alongside the ship. Williams, a retired U.S. Marine, received the Medal of Honor for his actions in the Battle of Iwo Jima during World War II. He is the last surviving recipient of the Medal of Honor from that battle.
Several dignitaries provided remarks at the event, including Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.; Maj. Gen. Eric M. Smith, commanding general, 1st Marine Division; Rear Adm. William J. Galinis, program executive officer, Ships; and Vice Adm. Dixon R. Smith, deputy chief of naval operations for Fleet Readiness and Logistics.
“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. We could not be more honored and more proud to design, build and soon deliver the USNS Hershel “Woody” Williams.”
The ship is optimized to support a variety of maritime-based missions and designed around four core capabilities: aviation facilities, berthing, equipment staging support, and command and control assets. ESBs can be enhanced to meet special operations force missions through increased communications, aviation and unmanned aircraft system support.
Built by General Dynamics NASSCO, the Montford Point-class comprises five ships across two variants: Expeditionary Transfer Docks (ESDs) and ESBs. USNS Montford Point (ESD 1), USNS John Glenn (ESD 2) and USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB 3) have been delivered to the fleet. ESB 4 is planned to join the fleet in 2018, with ESB 5 to follow in 2019.
The platform has an aviation hangar and flight deck that include two operating spots capable of landing MH-53E equivalent helicopters, accommodations, work spaces, and ordnance storage for an embarked force. The platform will also provide enhanced command and control, communications, computers, and intelligence capabilities to support embarked force mission planning and execution. The reconfigurable mission deck area can store embarked force equipment including mine sleds and rigid-hull inflatable boats.