SAN DIEGO, Aug. 3 (UPI) -- General Dynamics NASSCO hosted a keel-laying ceremony Tuesday for the future USNS Hershel "Woody" Williams, the company said.
The Expeditionary Sea Base ship is currently under construction at NASSCO's San Diego shipyard, the company said in a statement.
The 784-foot-long ship will serve as a flexible platform to support missions that include air mine countermeasures, counter-piracy operations, maritime security and humanitarian missions.
It can accommodate up to 250 personnel and features a 52,000 square-foot flight deck, fuel and equipment storage, and will support MH-53 and MH-60 helicopters and has an option to support MV-22 tilt-rotor aircraft.
It is expected to be finished by early 2018.
General Dynamics NASSCO has delivered three ships of this class to the Navy and has a fifth ship under contract for advanced procurement, the company said.