USNS Hershel “Woody” Williams to Arrive in Norfolk This Week
NORFOLK, Va. — The U.S. Navy’s newest expeditionary sea base (ESB), USNS Hershel “Woody” Williams (T-ESB 4), is scheduled to arrive at Naval Station Norfolk this week after completing its maiden voyage from San Diego, Military Sealift Command (MSC) said in a July 3 release.
USNS Hershel “Woody” Williams was delivered to MSC in February and is the Navy’s second, purpose-built ESB. The first ESB is USS Lewis B. Puller (T-ESB 3), which is currently operating in the Middle East.
The 784-foot-long vessel features a 52,000 square-foot flight deck, fuel and equipment storage, repair spaces, magazines and mission-planning spaces. Able to accommodate up to 250 personnel, USNS Hershel “Woody” Williams will support multiple missions, such as air mine countermeasures, counterpiracy operations, maritime security operations, humanitarian aid and disaster relief missions and crisis response operations. The ship has hybrid-manned crew with a combination of military personnel and civilian mariners.
USNS Hershel “Woody” Williams is named after the last surviving Medal of Honor recipient from the Battle of Iwo Jima. Hershel “Woody” Williams joined the Marine Corps following the attack on Pearl Harbor and, after serving in Guadalcanal and Guam, joined the campaign in Iwo Jima. Two days after arriving on the island, Williams picked up a 70-pound flamethrower and walked ahead of his infantry’s tanks for four hours clearing their path of enemy machine-gun fire. His actions resulted in President Harry S. Truman awarding him the Medal of Honor two years later.
USNS Hershel “Woody” Williams is the expeditionary sea base-variant of the expeditionary transfer dock (ESD) which includes USNS Montford Point (T-ESD 1), USNS John Glenn (T-ESD 2) and USS Lewis B. Puller. USS Lewis B. Puller was later commissioned as a warship and currently carries the “USS” designation. The third expeditionary sea base, USNS Miguel Keith (T-ESB 5), is currently under construction by General Dynamics National Steel and Shipbuilding Co. in San Diego.