By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Eric Coffer
The Expeditionary Sea Base USS Hershel “Woody” Williams (ESB 4) was joined by the Italian Navy’s Carlo Bergamini-class frigate Luigi Rizzo (F 595) off the western coast of Africa March 11, 2021.
The exercise emphasized helicopter and maritime proficiency while improving interoperability between long-standing allied nations.
“Today’s interoperability exercise with the Italian frigate featured complex helicopter operations and a well-integrated surface exercise,” said Capt. Michael Concannon, USS Hershel “Woody” Williams commanding officer. “The exercise’s success, driven by some exceptional planning and execution by the professionals on board Rizzo, showcases how close our relationship is with our Italian allies and how important it is, whether off the coast of Italy or off the west coast of Africa, to take advantage of every opportunity to hone our combined warfighting skills.”
USS Hershel “Woody” Williams, forward deployed to Souda Bay, Greece, is the first U.S. Navy ship assigned to the U.S. Africa Command area of operations. The ship is conducting a regularly scheduled deployment to support efforts to improve maritime security, stability and prosperity in the region.
“In the months and years to come, we will have more opportunities to work with our partners and allies in and around Africa, and through improvements in how we communicate and operate together, we will be better able to work together toward shared goals of improving the maritime security, stability and prosperity of African nations,” said Concannon. “Keeping sea lines of communication open and free from those who would threaten them keeps commerce flowing and serves the best interest of all nations in the global economy.”
Hershel “Woody” Williams is homeported in Souda Bay, Greece, and conducts AFRICOM missions in the Mediterranean and the waters around East, South, and West Africa to include the Gulf of Guinea, operating with regional partners. The ship will be a long-term presence assigned to the AFRICOM mission set and will support security cooperation missions and operations in and around the African continent.
U.S. Sixth Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied, joint, and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.