On Saturday, August 19, General Dynamics NASSCO successfully completed the float-out for USNS Hershel “Woody” Williams, the second Expeditionary Sea Base (ESB) to be constructed for the U.S. Navy by NASSCO shipbuilders.

A float-out occurs when a ship is ready to be moved from NASSCO’s graving dock to one of NASSCO’s piers for the next phase of construction. It is a lengthy and carefully-coordinated process that begins months in advance and requires the detailed attention of several departments and outside agencies.

As part of the process, seawater flows into the graving dock, gradually raising the ship until it floats on its own.

Named after retired U.S. Marine and Medal of Honor recipient, Hershel Woodrow “Woody” Williams, the 784-foot-long ship will serve as a flexible platform to support a variety of missions, including air mine countermeasures, counter-piracy operations, maritime security and humanitarian missions.

The ship will provide for accommodations for up to 250 personnel, a 52,000-square-foot flight deck, fuel and equipment storage, and will also support MH-53 and MH-60 helicopters with an option to support MV-22 tilt-rotor aircraft. The ship is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2018.

General Dynamics NASSCO has delivered three ships in the class to the Navy: USNS Montford Point (ESD 1), USNS John Glenn (ESD 2) and USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB 3). In addition to USNS Hershel “Woody” Williams (ESB 4), a fifth ship as part of the program is under construction at NASSCO.

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