US Sixth Fleet ships, Expeditionary Sea Base USS Hershel “Woody” Williams (ESB 4), Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Ross (DDG 71), and expeditionary fast transport USNS Trenton (T-EPF-5) are participating in US Africa Command’s largest and premier annual exercise African Lion.
Exercise African Lion 21 is a joint, combined exercise led by Southern European Task Force, Africa (SETAF-AF), and sponsored by US Africa Command. In addition to US forces, participants include allies and African partners from Morocco, Tunisia, and Senegal. Participants will work together to strengthen US and partner nation’s capability to promote regional stability and support interoperability, Africa Command said.
“Maritime security drives economic prosperity and it is imperative that we continue to exercise with our African partners to ensure security and stability in the region,” said Rear Admiral Benjamin Reynolds, Director of Maritime Headquarters, US Naval Forces Africa. “African Lion highlights our shared commitment to protecting and navigating the waters surrounding Africa and is a premier opportunity for our combined forces to rehearse and train together to strengthen collective defence capabilities and counter transnational threats.”
Exercise African Lion involves US service members from all service components, including the Reserves and National Guard. It provides a critical opportunity for members of the joint team to build and test their strategic readiness to deploy, fight and win in a complex, multi-domain environment.
The maritime portion of the exercise, led by US Naval Forces Africa, includes a naval gunfire exercise, multiple sea-based manoeuvres, and crisis response capabilities.
“Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams and her crew are proud to be a part of this important exercise as we do our part to help build a better recognized maritime picture and achieve improved maritime domain awareness so our partners have timely information they need to make decisions that impact safety and security,” said Michael E Concannon, commanding officer, Hershel “Woody” Williams, Gold Crew. “I want our Moroccan and regional partners to see the capabilities of this ship and to know that we are here, as an enduring partner, committed to putting a stop to illicit activities and improving how we work together as partners to improve national and regional security, stability and economic prosperity.”
The African and Euro-Atlantic navies share myriad security interests in the Mediterranean Sea. US Naval Forces Africa said is committed to working alongside its Northern African and Euro Atlantic allies and partners to help improve maritime security in the Southern Mediterranean.