Friday, August 5, 2016

NASSCO Lays Keel for USNS Vessel

By Mark Edward Nero

On Aug. 2, General Dynamics NASSCO hosted a keel laying ceremony for the future USNS Hershel “Woody” Williams, the US Navy’s second Expeditionary Sea Base under construction at the company’s San Diego shipyard.

USNS Hershel “Woody” Williams is the Navy’s second ESB ship. The 784-foot-long vessel is to serve as a flexible platform to support a variety of missions, including air mine countermeasures, counter-piracy operations, maritime security and humanitarian missions.

Features of the vessel include accommodations for up to 250 personnel; a 52,000-square-foot flight deck; and fuel and equipment storage. It will also support MH-53 and MH-60 helicopters with an option to support MV-22 tilt-rotor aircraft. The ship’s expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2018.

The vessel’s namesake, Hershel Woodrow “Woody” Williams, spoke at the keel laying ceremony, and his two daughters, Travie Ross and Tracie Ross, welded their initials onto the keel of the ship. Williams, a retired US 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.

“The story of Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams is remarkable. It’s a story of valiant devotion, extraordinary courage and American heroism,” General Dynamics NASSCO vice president and general manager Kevin Graney said. “We have the distinct honor of constructing a ship that will reflect the strength and fearlessness of its namesake and will provide global, advanced capabilities for future generations of Marines and sailors to come.”

General Dynamics NASSCO has so far 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 1). USNS Hershel “Woody” Williams is the fourth ship to be constructed by NASSCO shipbuilders under the program, and a fifth ship is currently under contract for advanced procurement.