U.S. Navy Vessel Participates in West Africa Anti-Piracy Exercise

U.S. Navy expeditionary sea base (ESB) USS Hershel “Woody” Williams was in West Africa in early August to participate in maritime security training along with African maritime security authorities.

They participated in a three-day sea training exercise with Nigerian offshore patrol vessels and members of Ghana’s Special Boat Squadron as part of efforts to contain growing piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.

The USS Hershel “Woody” Williams is the first warship permanently assigned to the U.S. Africa Command area of responsibility. The U.S. shares a common interest with African partner nations in ensuring security, safety, and freedom of navigation on the waters surrounding the continent, due to the waters being critical for Africa’s prosperity and access to global markets.

“Maritime engagements that include many navies working together really improve our interoperability and collective capability, which are absolutely necessary for a busy area such as the Gulf of Guinea,” Capt. Chad Graham, the ship’s commanding officer, said. “We’re happy to be working with our Nigerian partners to plan our at-sea multinational engagements, and we’re looking forward to a successful event that demonstrates our commitment to maritime security in the region.”

“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.”

The ESB ship class that the Williams is part of is a highly flexible platform that can be used across a broad range of military operations. Acting as a mobile sea base, the vessels are part of the infrastructure that supports the deployment of forces and supplies to support missions assigned.

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