By U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa Public Affairs
The Expeditionary Sea Base USS Hershel “Woody” Williams (ESB 4) conducted a tracking exercise with the Ivoirian and Italian Navies in the Gulf of Guinea, Sept. 26, 2020.
The Ivoirian Navy ships OPV C.F. Sekongo and OPV L’Emergence joined Italian Navy frigate Federico Martinengo (F 596) to track Hershel “Woody” Williams through communications with the Abidjan Maritime Operations Center. The ships simulated an interception and boarding off the Ivoirian coast, building partner capacity and exercising Ivoirian capabilities to track and intercept vessels of interest within Cote d’Ivoire’s Economic Exclusion Zone (EEZ).
“Cote d’Ivoire is a valued partner that is taking on an increasingly greater regional security role in the Gulf of Guinea,” said Capt. David L. Gray, commanding officer, Hershel “Woody” Williams, Blue Team. “The joint training we conduct with them and with our Italian counterparts builds a stronger partnership and allows us to increase our joint capacity in the region.”
The U.S. Navy routinely trains with allied and partner nations in order to enhance maneuverability capabilities and interoperability by establishing communication and safety standards that strengthen regional maritime security.
No boardings or personnel transfers were conducted during the training evolution as a precaution against COVID-19.
Hershel “Woody” Williams is on a regularly-scheduled deployment to the U.S. Naval Forces Africa area of operations and is a key element in integration between U.S. Navy and Marine Corps operations, especially Marine aviation and support to amphibious operations.
Other operations and training the ship can conduct include support to Special Operations, command and control, and staging of equipment and other assets, as directed. The ship will be a long-term presence assigned to the U.S. Africa Command mission set and will support security cooperation missions and operations in and around the African continent.
U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts joint and naval operations in order to support regional allies and partners and U.S. national security interests in Europe and Africa.