This post has been updated to correct an incorrect photo caption indicating USS Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams (ESB-4) was arriving in Naples, Italy. It was leaving San Diego.
Expeditionary Sea Base USS Hershel “Woody” Williams (ESB-4) pulled into Naples, Italy today for a stop on its first deployment.
Woody Williams left Naval Station Norfolk late last month for its first deployment, which is slated for a focus on operations in U.S. Africa Command, USNI News recently reported.
“In this complex maritime environment, a ship like this enables options to project power with a persistent presence,” Vice Adm. Gene Black, U.S. 6th Fleet commander, said in a statement. “The ship is ideal for missions in this theater as it can readily integrate with the Marines and our allies and partners in many of our operations throughout the region at varying levels of complexity.”
The crew includes both civilian mariners and sailors aboard the ship and is the second in the Lewis B. Puller-class of expeditionary sea base vessels.
Before leaving Norfolk last month, Woody Williams Blue Crew Commanding Officer Capt. David Gray said the crew was prepared to participate in a wide range of missions, including non-combatant evacuations and anti-piracy operations.
The ship has the capacity for four helicopters on its flight deck, can launch unmanned assets, and includes command and control systems.
While the Navy has a more limited presence in AFRICOM compared to the other combatant commands, Gray said ahead of the deployment that Woody Williams’ presence in the region can help other naval assets like amphibious ships or destroyers focus on higher-end operations.
“We’ve already got a great mission set setup, where we’re going, what we’re going to do and who we’re going to work with. And I tell you, it’s going to be very exciting,” Gray said at the time.
The Navy in March commissioned Woody Williams in Norfolk after disclosing plans earlier this year to commission all ESB vessels as warships, instead of Military Sealift Command ships eligible for brief warship designations.