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NEWS | Aug. 11, 2021

Gulf of Guinea Partners Complete Maritime Security Exercise

By U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa / U.S. Sixth Fleet Public Affairs

The Expeditionary Sea Base USS Hershel “Woody” Williams (ESB 4) conducted a combined maritime security capabilities exercise with the Nigerian Navy, the Spanish Navy, and members of Ghana’s Special Boat Squadron (SBS), Aug. 11, 2021.

The combined exercise consisted of maritime interdiction operations, Visit, Board, Search, and Seizure (VBSS) scenarios, fleet maneuvering, and helicopter insertion and casualty evacuations.  Alongside Hershel “Woody” Williams, participating ships included Nigerian Navy ships NNS Prosperity, NNS Nguru, NNS Ekulu, NNS Osun, NNS Ose, and the Spanish Navy ship SPS Vigia, as well as the Nigerian Navy’s Regional Maritime Awareness Center at Western Naval Command.

“These maritime training operations required the collaboration of not one, but three countries’ navies, all working together simultaneously,” Capt. Chad Graham, commanding officer, USS Hershel “Woody” Williams, said. “Collaborative operations like this offer invaluable experience for my crew in the present, but they also allow us to be more efficient and capable in future operations with our partners in the region.”

This exercise follows the two-day maritime planning event held with leaders from the Nigerian Navy. During their port visit, the crew also participated in community relations activities including a basketball game, ship tours and painting at the Lagos State Model Nursery and Primary School. Nigeria maintains the largest navy in the Gulf of Guinea region and is critical to security and stability in Africa.

The U.S. Navy routinely trains with allied and partner nations to enhance maritime capabilities and interoperability by establishing communication and safety standards that strengthen regional maritime security.

“The exercises we conducted this week show our commitment to the mutual goal of countering maritime crimes in the Gulf of Guinea, and how we can work together to achieve it,” Graham said.

USS Hershel “Woody” Williams is the first warship permanently assigned to the U.S. Africa Command area of responsibility. 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.

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.

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.