The United States Navy’s newest Expeditionary Sea Base USS Hershel “Woody” Williams (ESB 4) arrived in Cape Town on Saturday 20 February for a planned port visit.
With less than a year of service in the US Navy, the latest variant of the Lewis B Puller-class Expeditionary Mobile Base (ESB) was commissioned on 7 March 2020. It is designed to support special forces missions, counter-piracy/smuggling operations, maritime security operations and mine clearance, as well as humanitarian aid and disaster relief missions.
Arriving from Mombasa, Kenya, the stop will allow a restock for fuel and re-supply of the ship.
This is the second visit of a US Navy vessel to Cape Town in the past 12 months. The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Carney (DDG 64) paid a port visit in March 2020. That visit occurred just as South Africa was entering its strict Level 5 COVID-19 lockdown and all ship visits and activities were cancelled at the last moment.
Once again, strict COVID-19 protocols means that there will be no public tours to the ship and the crew will not have the opportunity to visit and enjoy the delights of Cape Town.
Homeported in Souda Bay, Greece, the ship conducts US Africa Command (Africom) missions in the Mediterranean and the waters around East, South, and West Africa to include the southern Mediterranean, operating with regional partners. The ship supports security cooperation missions and operations in and around the African continent.
“USS Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams’ manning and maintenance model maximizes our availability and ensures our persistent presence in African waters,” said Commanding Officer, Captain Michael Concannon. “Important port cities, like Cape Town, are critical to global trade. As coastal nations, both South Africa and the United States rely on maritime shipping and free and secure sea lanes for economic prosperity.”
“As we are for trade and investment, the United States is a strong security partner for South Africa,” said Acting US Consul General in Cape Town, Will Stevens. “This visit by the USS Hershel “Woody” Williams is one more step in bolstering our already strong security cooperation.”
The ship is due to depart Cape Town later this week. No exercises with the South African Navy are planned.