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NEWS | Sept. 30, 2020

USS Hershel “Woody” Williams Conducts Tracking Exercise with Ghanaian, Italian Navies

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 Ghanaian and Italian navies in the Gulf of Guinea, Sept. 28, 2020.

The Ghanaian Navy Snake-class patrol vessel GNS Ehwor (P37) and Italian Navy frigate Federico Martinengo (F 596) worked with the Tema Maritime Operations Center to track Hershel “Woody” Williams and simulate an interception and boarding off the Ghanaian coast. The units conducted the exercise to build partner capacity and exercise Ghanaian capabilities to track and intercept vessels of interest within the country’s Economic Exclusion Zone (EEZ).  The Ghanaian Navy plays a critical role in combatting illicit activity in the Gulf of Guinea.

“We are excited to train alongside our Ghanaian and Italian counterparts in the Gulf of Guinea,” said Capt. David L. Gray, commanding officer, Hershel “Woody” Williams, Blue Team. “Evolutions like today’s reinforce the strong partnerships and our mutual dedication to security and stability 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.  This exercise was the latest engagement with the Ghanaian Navy to build the U.S.-Ghana partnership in the maritime domain.  The Ghanaian Navy is a regular participant in U.S. military exercises such as Obangame Express.

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.