NEWS | Sept. 2, 2021

USS Hershel “Woody” Williams Arrives in Gabon, U.S. Navy Forces Europe-Africa Band Hold Community Performances

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 Libreville, Gabon for a scheduled port visit, Aug. 31, 2021.

The visit included engagement opportunities with Gabon’s government and military leaders. Gabon is an important partner of the United States in promoting peace and security in Africa.

“This port visit to Libreville offers us the chance to deepen our partnership with Gabon and its people, and to reiterate our commitment to maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea through direct, face-to-face contact with prominent regional actors,” Capt. Chad Graham, commanding officer, USS Hershel “Woody” Williams, said.

The U.S. Navy Forces Europe-Africa Band also held performances for the community.

“Performing music allows us to bridge cultural barriers and foster enduring relationships, and it starts instantly with a single note. Through a Navy Band performance, audiences connect with the musicians and begin to see the person behind the uniform,” Lt. j.g. Nicholas Nadal, Assistant Naval Forces Europe-Africa Band Director, said. “It gives us great pride to support USS Hershel "Woody" Williams' port visit to Libreville, and to perform for the lovely people of Gabon."

The U.S. works closely with Gabon on maritime security and maritime domain awareness. Additionally, Gabon 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.

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.