The U.S.Navy commissioned its newest Expeditionary Sea Base, USS Hershel “Woody” Williams (ESB 4), during a ceremony on Saturday, March 7, in Norfolk, Virginia.
The USS Hershel “Woody” Williams is the first ship to bear the name of Marine Corps Chief Warrant Officer Four Hershel Woodrow Williams, the last surviving Medal of Honor recipient recognized for heroism at the Battle of Iwo Jima during World War II.
U.S. Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia delivered the commissioning ceremony’s principal address. The ceremony was highlighted by a time-honored Navy tradition when Tracie Jean Ross and Travie Jane Ross, ship sponsors and daughters of Hershel “Woody” Williams, gave the first order to “man our ship and bring her to life!”
The USS Hershel “Woody” Williams 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.
Hershel “Woody” Williams is the Navy’s second ESB after USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB-3) and is the fourth ship in Montford Point-class which is also comprised of two Expeditionary Transfer Docks, USNS Montford Point (T-ESD-1) and USNS John Glenn (T-ESD-2) both operated by MSC.
Built by General Dynamics NASSCO, the Montford Point-class is comprised of five ships across two variants: Expeditionary Transfer Docks and Expeditionary Sea Bases. Acting as a mobile sea base, ESBs are part of the critical access infrastructure that supports the deployment of forces and supplies to provide prepositioned equipment and sustainment with flexible distribution.
The platform has an aviation hangar and flight deck that include four operating spots capable of landing V-22 and MH-53E equivalent helicopters, accommodations, work spaces, and ordnance storage for an embarked force. The platform will also provide unmanned aviation vehicle operations, 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.
Check out Naval Library app to find out the specifications of the Montford Point-class ships.