NORFOLK, VA (WVNS) — The U.S. Navy will commission the Military Sealift Command’s Expeditionary Sea Base ship USNS Hershel “Woody” Williams.
The commissioning ceremony will take place on Saturday, March 7, 2020. It will be held at the Half Moone Cruise Terminal in Norfolk, Virginia, at 10 a.m.
The USNS Hershel “Woody” Williams is the Navy’s second, purpose built ESB. It was delivered to the U.S. Navy’s Military Sealift Command in February 2018. The ship will be converted from a USNS to a USS ship on Saturday. The commissioning of this class of ship allows for greater mission flexibility and is consistent with international law as it is applicable to armed conflicts at sea, including but not limited to mine counter measure operations and special operations forces support. This re-designation provides combatant commanders greater operational flexibility to employ this platform in accordance with the laws of armed conflict.
The ship is named for Marine Corps veteran Chief Warrant Officer 4 Hershel “Woody” Williams, of West Virginia, who is renowned for his heroism in the Battle of Iwo Jima during World War II. He is the last living Medal of Honor recipient from the Battle of Iwo Jima.
During the ceremony, Retired Chief Warrant Officer 4 Hershel “Woody” Williams will set the first watch and his daughter, the ship’s sponsors, will call for the crew to “man the ship and bring her to life.”