NEWS | Aug. 25, 2021

USS Hershel “Woody” Williams Arrives in Equatorial Guinea, NAVAF Leaders Further Partnerships

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

The Expeditionary Sea Base USS Hershel “Woody” Williams (ESB 4) arrived in Bata, Equatorial Guinea for a scheduled port visit, Aug. 24, 2021.

The visit included ship tours and firefighting demonstrations for Equatoguinean government and navy officials, as well as community relations activities at local schools.

“We are happy to welcome our Equatoguinean partners aboard to observe the firefighting skills our Sailors have developed, and to build their awareness of the capabilities ‘Woody’ Williams brings to maritime security in the region,” Capt. Chad Graham, commanding officer, USS Hershel “Woody” Williams, said. “Our visit here in Bata gives the crew a chance to interact and foster relationships with Equatoguineans on a personal basis, and it gives the Navy writ large a chance to demonstrate its commitment to its existing partnership with Equatorial Guinea.”

Equatorial Guinea is an important partner of the United States in promoting peace and security in Africa. The U.S. works closely with Equatorial Guinea on maritime security and maritime domain awareness. Additionally, Equatorial Guinea participated in exercise Obangame Express in March 2021, which is the largest multinational maritime exercise in Western Africa. These types of exercises strengthen partnerships and allow countries to work more closely on shared transnational maritime challenges.

Leadership assigned to Commander, Naval Forces Europe-Africa (NAVEUR-NAVAF) also visited Equatorial Guinea and met with President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, as well as other Equatoguinean leaders.

“This visit is part of our long-term commitment to Equatorial Guinea and the valuable partnerships we have throughout the Gulf of Guinea region,” Mark Schapiro, NAVEUR-NAVAF Foreign Policy Advisor, said. “The transnational maritime law enforcement challenges in this region can only be addressed through multilateral cooperation.  This is hard work, but this is work that strengthens and promotes open societies and human dignity.”

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.