US Navy expeditionary sea base ship USS Hershel “Woody” Williams (ESB 4) and the ship’s Military Sealift Command civilian mariners (CIVMARs) departed Naval Station Norfolk, Va. Jul. 27, on the ship’s inaugural deployment following its commissioning in March.
“As the commanding officer of the “Woody” Williams’ Blue Crew, I can tell you that we are excited to embark on the ship’s first deployment,” said Capt. David Gray, commanding officer of the USS Hershel “Woody” Williams Blue Crew. “For the majority of our Sailors, this will be their first deployment, and I can’t think of a more exciting area to operate in. We look forward to our deployment in U.S. Naval Forces Africa.”
The ship is named for Marine Corps veteran, Hershel “Woody” Williams, known for his heroism during the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II. On Oct. 5, 1945, President Harry S. Truman presented Williams with the Medal of Honor during a group ceremony at the White House.
The ship is designed around four core capabilities: aviation facilities, berthing, equipment staging and command and control assets. It will primarily support a variety of aviation mine countermeasure and special operations missions freeing up amphibious warships and surface combatant ships to be reassigned for more demanding operational missions.
The commissioning and deployment of Hershel “Woody” Williams follows USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB 3), which is forward deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet Area of Operations. The 784ft.-long vessel features a 52,000 square-foot flight deck, fuel and equipment storage, magazines, repair and mission-planning spaces. Its features include a four spot flight deck, a mission deck and hangar, work and living spaces for a couple hundred staff and embarked personnel.
Williams will forward-deploy to the U.S. Naval Forces Africa area of operations. The crew will operate in a Blue/Gold rotation, similar to other Navy platforms, to meet Department of the Navy deployment policies.