Woody Williams (ESB 4) Commissioned

Hershel Woodrow Williams, Retired Chief Warrant Officer Four and Medal of Honor recipient, salutes as he is introduced to the stage along with other members of the ship commissioning committee, March 7, 2020 in Norfolk, VA. (U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Lance Cpl. Fernando Moreno)

Article appears courtesy of Defense Media Activity, U.S. Marines

The Expeditionary Sea Base (ESB) Hershel “Woody” Williams was commissioned as a warship on March 7, 2020. The ship transfers from military Sealift Command to the Navy.

In attendance to the event were figures such as the commandant of the Marine Corps, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; James Geurts, Assistant Secretary of the Navy; and five Medal of Honor recipients.

The ship was previously known as the United States Naval Ship (USNS) Hershel “Woody” Williams. Now, that it has been commissioned as a Navy warship, the ship is the United States Ship (USS) Hershel “Woody” Williams.

The ship is named after retired Marine Corps Chief Warrant Officer Four Hershel Woodrow Williams. At 95 years old, Williams is the last surviving Medal of Honor recipient recognized for his heroic deeds at the Battle of Iwo Jima during World War II.

Williams delivered his namesake address where he acknowledged the impact such an event has and will continue to have for the future.
“I’m grateful to all those who have the expertise to put something like this together,” said Hershel Woodrow Williams, retired CWO4. “And may all those who serve aboard this ship that will bear my name be safe and be proud. And may she have God’s blessings for a long-life of service to the greatest country on earth.”

The commissioning of the ship as a United States Ship will make it a more versatile and flexible warfighting machine, capable of a variety of sea missions. The ship operates with a mixed crew of Navy Seamen, Mariners, and civilians and is uniquely designed, being only the second ship of its kind, to have an open operations deck below and a flight deck above.

Its capabilities as a war fighting asset are not to be outdone, however, by its overall cost effectiveness as stated by General David H. Berger.

“This ship is a step in the right direction for what we can afford as a nation. It’s a draft office civilian design, but modified by naval architects to make a fighting ship out of it,” said General David H. Berger, 38th Commandant of the Marine Corps.”

The Williams was built at a cost of about $500 million in 2017, and is the second of three Expeditionary Sea Base ships built for the Navy by a private sector company.

This is how the Navy and the Marine Corps can work with industry to produce what we need to protect our country.”

After remarks and addresses from distinguished ship commissioning committee members, Williams personally presented the long glass to the ships officer of the deck.

The long glass is traditionally the symbol representing the officer of the decks authority on the ship. Williams presented the looking glass to the newly commissioned ships officer of the deck, officially setting the first watch.