Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams visits the Republic of Congo

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The US Navy’s USS Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams has paid a visit to the Republic of Congo in the first US ship visit to the country in more than a decade.

The expeditionary sea base (ESB) vessel arrived in pointe Noire on 12 September, the US Navy said. While in Pointe Noire, the ship’s crew hosted ship tours and a reception for government, military and community leaders and participated in a soccer game with local youth.

“We are grateful to the Republic of Congo for allowing us this port visit – it’s a great honour to be the first US ship to visit after such a hiatus,” said Captain Chad Graham, commanding officer of Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams. “I look forward to strengthening the already great relations we have between the US and Congo, and that we continue to support one another as we pursue safety and security in the region.”

“The Republic of Congo is an important partner of the US in promoting peace and security in Africa. Additionally, the Republic of Congo participated in exercise Obangame Express 2022, the largest annual maritime security exercise in Western Africa. These types of exercises strengthen partnerships and allow our countries to work closely on shared transnational maritime goals,” the US Navy said.

“Given the Republic of Congo’s location and its important role in maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea, the security partnership between the United States and the Republic of Congo continues to grow and holds many opportunities and possibilities to advance our shared interests in the region,” said Eugene Young, US Ambassador to Republic of the Congo. “The visit of USS Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams demonstrates our commitment to further strengthen that partnership.”

“We are delighted and honoured by the government of the Republic of Congo and the Congolese Armed Forces’ willingness to host such an important ship visit in the region, and we hope to continue similar official visits in the future,” said Lieutenant Colonel Joshua Thyer, defence official at US Embassy Brazzaville.

Over the last six weeks, the Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams has visited Namibia, Tanzania, Cape Town, and Angola.

USS Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams is the first warship permanently assigned to the US Africa Command area of responsibility. The vessel has made stops at numerous West African countries’ ports, including Nigeria at the beginning of August. Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams then participated in a three-day at sea training exercise with Nigerian offshore patrol vessels and members of Ghana’s Special Boat Squadron (SBS).

Prior to arriving in Nigeria, members of the Ghanaian Special Boat Squadron embarked aboard the Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams to participate in maritime security training alongside the Nigerian Navy, on 5 August.

Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams arrived in Monrovia, Liberia, for a scheduled port visit on 28 July. The visit also kicked off the US Embassy in Liberia’s year-long observance of the 175th year of the Republic of Liberia.

Later in the month, the vessel took part in the first iteration of the Brazilian-led, Gulf of Guinea exercise called Operation Guinex with the Brazilian Frigate Independencia on 23 August.