By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Eric Coffer
The Expeditionary Sea Base USS Hershel “Woody” Williams (ESB 4) arrived in Dakar, Senegal for a scheduled port visit, June 21-25, 2021.
The visit included a meet and greet with U.S. leadership and Senegalese officers and dignitaries aboard the ship followed by a small reception.
“As the first ship permanently assigned to the U.S. Africa Command area of operations, we are here to work with our partners and allies to improve security, stability and the prosperity of African nations,” Capt. Michael Concannon, commanding officer, gold crew. “We have a unique manning construct with rotating military crews to support a persistent presence that allows us to operate at a higher tempo and be available to do more work with our partners.”
Senegal is an important partner of the United States in promoting peace and security in Africa. The U.S. works closely with Senegal on maritime security and maritime domain awareness. Additionally, Senegal participated in exercise Obangame Express in March 2021, was a satellite host of exercise African Lion in June 2021, and will host exercise Flintlock and Obangame Express in 2022. These exercises strengthen partnerships and allows countries to work more closely on shared transnational maritime challenges.
USS Hershel “Woody” Williams is the fifth ship U.S. Navy-Africa has sent to the Africa’s Atlantic coast in the past two years, demonstrating a commitment to helping our African partners improve security. 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, because these waters are critical for Africa’s prosperity and access to global markets.
“We share many of the same interests with our coastal partners as global commerce depends on freedom of navigation through the waterways of the world to ensure economic prosperity,” said Capt. Concannon. “As we work together to improve how we communicate and share information, we have the opportunity to learn from each other and make coastal Africa safer to the benefit of all of our African partners and allies.”
For over 70 years, U.S. Sixth Fleet forces have forged strategic relationships with our allies and partners and solidified a foundation of shared values, experiences, and vision aimed at preserving security and stability.
The ESB ship class is a highly flexible platform that may be used across a broad range of military operations. Acting as a mobile sea base, they are part of the critical access infrastructure that supports the deployment of forces and supplies to support missions assigned.
The gold crew of Hershel Williams is nearing the end of a six-month deployment having completed operations around the African continent, including participation in exercises Phoenix Express and African Lion, helping to bolster African partner nation relationships in maritime domain awareness.
U.S. Sixth Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.