Keel Laid for USNS Williams (8/4)


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The U.S. Navy and General Dynamics NASSCO have issued separate news releases about the keel-laying ceremony for the future USNS Hershel “Woody” Williams. Both releases appear below (starting with NASSCO’s). To access them directly on the respective websites, click HERE for the Navy article and HERE for the one from NASSCO (which is a union shipyard).


The Williams will be crewed by SIU members.


General Dynamics NASSCO Hosts Keel Laying Ceremony for future USNS Hershel “Woody” Williams


SAN DIEGO – On Tuesday, August 2, General Dynamics NASSCO hosted a keel laying ceremony for the future USNS Hershel “Woody” Williams, the U.S. Navy’s second Expeditionary Sea Base (ESB) currently under construction at the company’s San Diego shipyard.


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


Many dignitaries and fellow Medal of Honor recipients attended the ceremony, including retired Marine Corps Colonel Robert Modrzejewski, a Medal of Honor recipient recognized for his conspicuous gallantry during the Vietnam War; Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator (SEAL) Edward Byers, Jr., a Medal of Honor recipient recognized for his efforts during a hostage rescue in Afghanistan; and Brigadier General William M. Jurney, Commanding General, Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego.


“The story of Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams is remarkable. It’s a story of valiant devotion, extraordinary courage and American heroism,” said Kevin Graney, vice president and general manager for General Dynamics NASSCO. “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.”


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


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


General Dynamics NASSCO has 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.


NASSCO maintains a bi-coastal ship maintenance and repair operation with locations in San Diego; Mayport, Florida; Norfolk, Virginia; and Bremerton, Washington.


Keel Laid for future USNS Hershel “Woody” Williams


SAN DIEGO (NNS) – A keel laying ceremony for the future USNS Hershel "Woody" Williams (ESB 4) was held, Aug. 2, in San Diego, representing the formal beginning of the ship and recognizing the first joining together of ship components.


The ship is an expeditionary sea base and the fourth ship of the Montford Point-class. It 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.


Chief Warrant Officer Hershel “Woody” Williams, the ship's namesake and the last surviving Medal of Honor recipient from the Battle of Iwo Jima, was in attendance for the ceremony. The keel was authenticated by Williams' daughters, Ms. Tracie Jean Ross and Ms. Travie Jane Ross, who etched their initials into the keel plate.


“It is an honor to have [Chief Warrant Officer] Williams and his family here to celebrate this milestone,” said Capt. Henry Stevens, Strategic and Theater Sealift program manager, Program Executive Office, Ships. “With these platforms based on commercial designs, we’re strengthening our capabilities at sea, while doing so in an affordable manner.”


Built by General Dynamics NASSCO, the Montford Point-class is comprised of five ships across two variants: expeditionary transfer docks and expeditionary sea bases. USNS Montford Point (ESD 1), USNS John Glenn (ESD 2), and USNS Lewis B. Puller (ESB 3) have been delivered to the fleet. ESB 4 is planned to join the fleet in 2018, with the future procurement of ESB 5 planned for contract award in fiscal year 2017.


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.


As one of the DoD’s largest acquisition organizations, PEO Ships is responsible for executing the development and procurement of all destroyers, amphibious ships, special mission and support ships, boats and craft.




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