GULF OF GUINEA – The Expeditionary Sea Base USS Hershel “Woody” Williams (ESB 4) conducted an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) demonstration, a fleet maneuver exercise, and an oil platform security and boarding exercise with the Nigerian Navy in the Gulf of Guinea, Sept. 29-Oct. 3, 2020.
The Nigerian Navy ships NNS Prosperity (P21), NNS Okpabana (F93), NNS Ekulu (P188), and NNS Nguru (P187) worked with Hershel “Woody” Williams and the Lagos-based Maritime Operations Center to track vessels of interest and simulate interceptions and boardings off the Nigerian coast.
“The Nigerian Navy is a leader in maritime security in Atlantic Africa,” said Capt. David L. Gray, commanding officer, Hershel “Woody” Williams, Blue Crew. “We are excited to work alongside our Nigerian Navy counterparts to reinforce our joint commitment to security and stability in the region.”
The units conducted the exercise to build partner capacity and exercise Nigerian capabilities to track and intercept vessels of interest within the country’s Economic Exclusion Zone (EEZ). Hershel “Woody” Williams also deployed a UAV to demonstrate the unique capabilities provided by the system.
The U.S. Navy routinely trains with allied and partner nations in order to enhance maneuverability capabilities and interoperability by establishing communication and safety standards that strengthen regional maritime security.
No boardings or personnel transfers were conducted during the training evolution as a precaution against COVID-19.
Hershel “Woody” Williams is on a regularly-scheduled deployment to the U.S. Naval Forces Africa area of operations and is a key element in integration between U.S. Navy and Marine Corps operations, especially Marine aviation and support to amphibious operations.
Other operations and training the ship can conduct include support to Special Operations, command and control, and staging of equipment and other assets, as directed. The ship will be a long-term presence assigned to the U.S. Africa Command mission set and will support security cooperation missions and operations in and around the African continent.
U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts joint and naval operations in order to support regional allies and partners and U.S. national security interests in Europe and Africa.