U.S. Navy Launches Expeditionary Sea Base


October 2017


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More jobs for SIU Government Services Division mariners are on the way following the U.S. Navy’s recent launch of the expeditionary sea base (ESB) USNS Hershel “Woody” Williams. The launch, taking place at General Dynamics NASSCO’s shipyard in San Diego on Aug. 19, involved slowly flooding the launching dock with water, until the vessel could float free.


Following launch, the ship completed construction and final outfitting before heading into sea trials, with an expected delivery date in early 2018.


“We’re making tremendous progress on this ship,” said Capt. Scot Searles, who manages the Navy’s Strategic Sealift and Theater Sealift program. “We’ll begin powering many of the ship’s engines and systems as early as next month as we prepare to get underway for sea trials in the coming months.”


The Williams will primarily support aviation mine countermeasure and special operations force missions, the Navy reported. In addition to a flight deck, the ESB has a hangar with two aviation operating spots capable of handling helicopters. It also features “accommodations, work spaces, and ordnance storage for embarked forces; enhanced command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence to support embarked force mission planning and execution; and a reconfigurable mission deck area to store embarked force equipment to include mine sleds and rigid hull inflatable boats,” the Navy noted.


General Dynamics NASSCO – a union shipyard – is building the next ESB; the keel-laying was planned for September. The yard already built the SIU-crewed ESBs USNS Montford Point and USNS John Glenn, both of which carry SIU crews. The latter two vessels, operated by Ocean Shipholdings, originally were classified as mobile-landing platforms, abbreviated as MLP.


In the past decade, NASSCO has delivered more than 30 oceangoing ships to government and commercial customers, including the world’s first LNG-powered containerships (both crewed by SIU members).


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