MSC Commander Speaks at USNS Hershel “Woody” Williams Christening Ceremony in San Diego

Rear Adm. Dee L. Mewbourne, commander, Military Sealift Command, served as a speaker at the christening of the U.S. Navy’s newest ship, expeditionary staging base USNS Hershel “Woody” Williams (T-ESB 4) at the General Dynamics NASSCO shipyard in San Diego Oct. 21.

Mewbourne was one of five speakers that included Vice Adm. Dixon R. Smith, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Fleet Readiness and Logistics, Rear Adm. William J. Galinis, Program Executive Officer, Ships, Gloria Valdez and keynote speaker Maj. Gen. Eric M. Smith, commanding general, 1st Marine Division.

The 784 foot ship honors Marine Corps Chief Warrant Officer (retired) Hershel “Woody” Williams, the last surviving Medal of Honor recipient for actions in the Battle of Iwo Jima. Williams was joined at the ceremony by Medal of Honor recipients and survivors of USS Arizona as well as other state, and government dignitaries.

The official christening moment happened when Martha P. Downs, Puller’s daughter and the ship’s sponsor, broke a bottle over the ship’s bow with the words, “I christen you the USNS Hershel “Woody” Williams.”

“If we operate this great ship with a fraction of the skill, tenacity and courage displayed by Woody Williams, our naval service will be well positioned to meet the challenges that lie ahead,” said Mewbourne.

Williams is the fourth ship in the expeditionary mobile base platform build for MSC, and the second expeditionary staging base model. When activated, Williams will primarily support aviation mine countermeasure and special operations force missions. In addition to the flight deck capable of handling up to four MH-53E Sea Dragon-equivalent helicopters, the ship has an aircraft hangar, accommodations, work spaces, and ordnance storage for embarked force; enhanced command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence to support embarked force mission planning and execution; and reconfigurable mission deck area to store embarked force equipment to include mine sleds and rigid hull inflatable boats.

“Naval forces are critically important in building partnerships with our friends and allies, rapidly responding to crisis, deterring adversaries and sustaining our forward presence,” said Mewbourne. “Ships like Hershel “Woody” Williams enable Military Sealift Command to boldly sail the world’s oceans, providing assured logistics and specialized support to the joint warfighter.”

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