NORFOLK, Va. — A ceremony on Saturday in Norfolk, Virginia will commission a ship into the United States Navy named for West Virginia war hero Woody Williams. During the ceremony the ship, will be commissioned as the U.S.S. Hershel Woody Williams to honor the Medal of Honor recipient.
The ship was built and launched into the Navy fleet in 2017. It’s operated by the Military Sealift Command and is designed as a mobile launching point for MH-53 ad MH-60 military helicopters. It’s a unique design and only the second ship of her kind with an open operations deck below and flight deck on top. The ship also operates with a mixed crew of civilian mariners and U.S. Navy seamen.
The commissioning of the ship as a United States Ship (U.S.S.) will make it more versatile and flexible for a variety of sea missions. Those missions could include staging United States Special Forces operations and mine sweeping operations.
The ship has arrived in Norfolk after making its maiden voyage around South America from San Diego and will be stationed at the U.S. Naval Station Norfolk before being sent to sea on military missions.
The ship was delivered on the 73rd anniversary of the Battle of Iwo Jima. The date was no coincidence. Williams was decorated with the Medal of Honor for his exploits to clear out seven Japanese gun emplacements during the battle. His actions cleared the way for Marines to advance on the Japanese held territory.
Williams, now 96, was on hand for the ship’s delivery in 2017 and will be in Norfolk Saturday for her commissioning as a United States war ship.