New NASSCO Expeditionary Ship Named for WWII Marine Hero

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Artist’s conception of an expeditionary sea base underway. Courtesy Marine Corps

The Navy’s newest expeditionary sea base, a specialized ship for Marine operations under construction at NASSCO in Barrio Logan, will be named the USNS Hershel “Woody” Williams.

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During the campaign on Iwo Jima in World War II, Williams picked up a 70-pound flamethrower and walked ahead of his infantry’s tanks for four hours clearing their path of enemy machine gun fire. President Harry S. Truman awarded him the Medal of Honor two years later for his actions.

Williams is the last surviving Medal of Honor recipient from the Battle of Iwo Jima. The ship was named in his honor at a ceremony Thursday in his birthplace of Charleston, WV.

The new 784-foot-long vessel will feature a 52,000-square-foot flight deck for helicopters and tilt-rotor aircraft, fuel and equipment storage, repair spaces, magazines, and mission-planning spaces.

Able to accommodate up to 250 personnel, the new ship will support multiple missions, such as mine counter measures, counter-piracy operations, maritime security operations, humanitarian aid and disaster-relief missions, and crisis-response operations.

The ship is being built by General Dynamics NASSCO in San Diego and will be delivered to the Navy in 2018. NASSCO launched the first vessel in the class, the Lewis B. Puller, last year.

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