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NEWS | Dec. 17, 2021

USS Hershel “Woody” Williams Swaps Crew

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

The forward-deployed Expeditionary Sea Base USS Hershel “Woody” Williams (ESB 4) swapped crews in Djibouti after completing the ship’s third deployment through the U.S. Sixth Fleet area of operations, Dec. 15, 2021.

The departing “Blue Crew,” comprised of both U.S. Navy Sailors and Military Sealift Command civilian mariners circumnavigated the African continent during their deployment earlier this year, which started in Monrovia, Liberia in July 2021 and ended in Djibouti in December 2021.

“This ship occupies a very unique position within the fleet and it takes a skilled group of Sailors to support her mission,” said Capt. Chad Graham, blue crew commanding officer, USS Hershel “Woody” Williams. “I want to thank my crew for their hard work, and for the dedication they have displayed on this deployment.”

While deployed, the “Blue Crew” visited 11 countries and participated in several maritime security exercises with African partners as well as Brazil, Portugal and Spain. The ship made port visits in Liberia, Nigeria, Ghana, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Angola, Namibia, South Africa, Mozambique, Seychelles, and Djibouti. 

“This was a complex deployment with multiple objectives. Promoting maritime security awareness and working with our African partners to enhance interoperability were major goals.” said Graham. “In addition, we wanted to demonstrate the capabilities of the ESB ship class to the region and to support the Navy’s Women, Peace, and Security initiative through conferences convened onboard.”

The oncoming “Gold Crew” will be led by Capt. Michael Concannon.

Having the ability to swap crews from a ship almost anywhere in the world gives naval forces the ability to maintain a constant presence in any region of the world.

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.

The ESB ship class is a highly flexible platform that operates 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.

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.

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.