By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Eric Coffer
The Expeditionary Sea Base USS Hershel “Woody” Williams (ESB 4) participates in the 16th iteration of exercise Phoenix Express 2021 (PE21) off the coast of Tunis, Tunisia, with Allied and partner nations during the at-sea portion of the multinational maritime exercise in North Africa May 22-26, 2021.
Eleven nations operated together to increase regional cooperation, maritime domain awareness, information-sharing practices, and operational capabilities, enhancing efforts to promote safety and security in the Mediterranean Sea and territorial waters of participating North African nations.
“As the first Navy warship permanently assigned to the Africa Command area of responsibility, Hershel “Woody” Williams is committed to activities that allow partner and allied nations to collaborate, communicate and train together as we develop solutions to stop illicit activity that threatens the prosperity, safety and security of like-minded sea faring nations,” said Capt. Michael E. Concannon, commanding officer, Hershel “Woody” Williams, Gold Crew. “In Phoenix Express 2021, we will improve how we share information among partner nations, increase maritime domain awareness and improve our collective ability to respond quickly to threats and activities that concern us all.”
Exercise Phoenix Express is one of three regional maritime exercises executed by U.S. Naval Forces Africa as part of a comprehensive strategy to provide collaborative opportunities amongst African forces and international partners that addresses maritime security concerns. The exercise will test North African, European, and U.S. maritime forces’ abilities to respond to irregular migration and to combat illicit trafficking and the movement of illegal goods and materials.
“Hershel Williams and her crew are focused on improving how we communicate with our partners and how we share information that supports the improvement of security, safety, and prosperity for all nations,” said Concannon. “We want to learn how to better provide information to our partners to allow them to build a better recognized maritime picture and achieve an improved maritime domain awareness so they have timely information they need to make decisions that impact sovereign safety and security.”
The eleven nations are participating in PE21 including Algeria, Egypt, Greece, Italy, Libya, Malta, Mauritania, Morocco, Spain, Tunisia and the United States.
With more that 90 percent of all trade traveling by sea, and 95 percent of the world’s international phone and internet traffic carried through fiber optic cables lying on the ocean floor, Navy officials continue to emphasize that the prosperity and security of the United States is directly linked to a strong and ready Navy.
The U.S. Navy remains operational despite COVID-19, following all coronavirus safety precautions and regulations.
U.S. 6th 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.