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NEWS | July 4, 2022

USS Hershel “Woody” Williams (ESB 4) arrives in Victoria, Seychelles

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Fred Gray IV

The Lewis B. Puller-class expeditionary sea base USS Hershel “Woody” Williams (ESB 4) anchored out in Victoria, Seychelles, July 3, 2022, for a scheduled visit.

The port visit comes shortly after the passing of the ship’s namesake, Medal of Honor recipient retired Chief Warrant Officer (CWO) 4 Hershel Woodrow “Woody” Williams. Williams passed away on June 29, 2022, at the age of 98.

“I would like to express my deepest condolences to the family and friends of retired CWO4 Williams,” said Capt. Chad Graham, commanding officer of USS Hershel “Woody” Williams. “He truly was an American hero, one whose example and courage we try to emulate in all that we do onboard. It is an honor and privilege to be the commanding officer of the vessel that bears his name.”

As the ship prepares to mark Woody’s life in a future remembrance ceremony, Capt. Graham and the ship’s crew look to another important mission. While in Victoria, the crew will be afforded the chance to strengthen relations with the people of the Seychelles while representing the Navy and Military Sealift Command as well as their namesake to the local population.

“This port visit in Seychelles is bittersweet to the crew, as it allows us a much needed break but also time to celebrate the life of our ship’s namesake,” said Capt. Chad Graham. “The crew proudly carries the name Hershel “Woody” Williams to every port and nation we visit, each sailor an ambassador of his legacy.”

USS Hershel “Woody” Williams is the first ship named after the Medal of Honor recipient, following his actions in the Battle of Iwo Jima during World War II. He was the last surviving Medal of Honor recipient from the second World War and his decades of service to his community and his country left a lasting legacy that will surely carry on for years to come.

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 80 years, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-U.S. Naval Forces Africa (NAVEUR-NAVAF) has forged strategic relationships with allies and partners, leveraging a foundation of shared values to preserve security and stability.

Headquartered in Naples, Italy, NAVEUR-NAVAF operates U.S. naval forces in the U.S. European Command (USEUCOM) and U.S. Africa Command (USAFRICOM) areas of responsibility. U.S. Sixth Fleet is permanently assigned to NAVEUR-NAVAF, and employs maritime forces through the full spectrum of joint and naval operations.