US Navy commissions expeditionary sea base in Virginia

9 March 2020 (Last Updated March 9th, 2020 10:51)

The US Navy has commissioned its newest expeditionary sea base, USS Hershel Woody Williams (ESB 4), in Norfolk, Virginia.

US Navy commissions expeditionary sea base in Virginia
The Military Sealift Command expeditionary sea base USNS Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams (ESB 4) is at anchor in the Chesapeake Bay in September 2019. Credit: US Navy/Bill Mesta.

The US Navy has commissioned its newest expeditionary sea base, USS Hershel Woody Williams (ESB 4), in Norfolk, Virginia.

The future vessel bears the name of Marine Corps Chief Warrant Officer Four Hershel Woodrow Williams and is optimised to support various maritime-based missions.

It has been designed around the core capabilities of aviation facilities, berthing, equipment staging support, and command and control assets.

US Navy acting secretary Thomas Modly said: “This ship honours a man who dedicated his life to service, heroic service as a marine, and continued service to his fellow veterans.

“This dedication will live on in USS Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams as the ship is deployed around the world, bringing additional capability to our growing fleet.”

The Montford Point-class mobile base is built by General Dynamics Nassco and comprises five ships across Expeditionary Transfer Docks and Expeditionary Sea Bases variants.

The aviation hangar and flight deck of the platform include four operating spots that can land V-22 and MH-53E equivalent helicopters, accommodations, work spaces, and ordnance storage for an embarked force.

Additionally, the platform will support mission planning and execution by providing unmanned aviation vehicle operations, improved command and control, communications, computers, and intelligence capabilities.

The reconfigurable mission deck area is capable of storing embarked force equipment, including mine sleds and rigid hull inflatable boats.

ESBs act as a mobile sea base and are part of the critical access infrastructure that supports the deployment of forces and supplies.

They can be improved to meet special operations force missions through increased communications, aviation and unmanned aircraft system support.