USS Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams in Nigeria for Gulf of Guinea exercises

U.S. Navy’s USS Hershel “Woody” Williams arrives Nigeria’s commercial capital city of Lagos on Saturday for maritime training in the Gulf of Guinea, and to strengthening partnership with coastal African nations.

The visiting vessel USS Hershel “Woody” Williams (ESB-4) (formerly USNS Hershel “Woody” Williams (T-ESB-4)) is a US Navy Lewis B. Puller-class expeditionary mobile base.

“Ship visits like this one clearly demonstrate the U.S.’s continued dedication to our partners in the Gulf of Guinea as they strive for security of their resources, their economy, and their people,” Claire Pierangelo, U.S. Consul General in Lagos, explained to the media on Saturday.

“We’re here to train and work with the Nigerian Navy on anti-piracy, tactics, techniques and procedures,” Hershel “Woody” Williams Captain Chad Graham said.

A Nigerian Navy sailor, far right, meets crewmembers of the USS Hershel Woody Williams prior to exercises in the Gulf of Guinea.

784 feet long Woody serves as a mobile sea platform or expeditionary sea base for coordinating large-scale naval logistics operations including transfer of vehicles and equipment from sea to shore.

The vessel USS Hershel “Woody” Williams is the first warship permanently assigned to the U.S. Africa Command area of responsibility, says the U.S. African Command (AFRICOM).

She’s returning to West Africa’s Gulf of Guinea after participating in the Obangame Express 2021 exercises in March which 32-nations participated.

According to the U.S. Navy, the “USS Hershel “Woody” Williams’ return to the Gulf of Guinea builds upon exercise Obangame Express, continues to demonstrate U.S. commitment to African partnerships, and ensures prosperity through maritime security and stability.”

“We’re happy to have our Ghanaian counterparts aboard and excited to work together,” Capt. Chad Graham, Hershel “Woody” Williams commanding officer, blue crew, said. “Maritime security is not a one nation obligation. It takes cooperative efforts like this to achieve it.”

The U.S. Navy noted that since the last decade, Gulf of Guinea nations have steadily increased their capability of working together and sharing information.

“We strongly value our Ghanaian and Nigerian partners, as it’s this kind of cooperation and communication that keeps the region safe,” Graham said. “The Gulf of Guinea’s size requires a team effort. It takes multiple coastal nations working together, for mutual benefit, and that’s what we see.”

Currently serving in the U.S. Sixth Fleet headquartered in Naples, Italy, the ESB-class vessel “Woody” is part of the critical access infrastructure that supports the deployment of forces and supplies to support missions assigned. They are a highly flexible platform that may be used across a broad range of military operations in order to “advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.”

In February 2021, she visited Cape Town, South Africa to strengthen bilateral ties as well as to restock fuel and re-supply for the ship.

Likewise, under the command of Captain Chad Graham, USS Hershel “Woody” Williams visited Monrovia, Liberia in July, as part of a regularly scheduled port visit to strengthen the enduring partnership between the United States and Liberia. 

Ekene Lionel

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