US Navy ship arrives in Nigeria as part of Gulf of Guinea visit


The United States Navy (USN) vessel Hershel “Woody” Williams has arrived in Nigeria as part of its return to the Gulf of Guinea to strengthen partnerships with coastal African nations.

Officers assigned to the Expeditionary Sea Base vessel participated in a maritime interoperability planning event with leaders from the Nigerian Navy on 7 August.

Hershel “Woody” Williams is scheduled to participate in a three-day at sea training exercise with Nigerian offshore patrol vessels and members of Ghana’s Special Boat Squadron (SBS), the US Navy said.

Captain Chad Graham, Hershel “Woody” Williams’ commanding officer, also met with the chief of operations for the Nigerian Navy Western Naval Command (WNC), Commodore Daupreye Franklin Matthew, to discuss their shared commitment to a peaceful, well-policed Gulf of Guinea.

“Maritime engagements that include many navies working together really improve our interoperability and collective capability, which are absolutely necessary for a busy area such as the Gulf of Guinea,” Graham said. “We’re happy to be working with our Nigerian partners to plan our at-sea multinational engagements, and we’re looking forward to a successful event that demonstrates our commitment to maritime security in the region.”

While visiting Lagos, Sailors assigned to Hershel “Woody” Williams will also help paint Lagos State Model Nursery and Primary School Achakpo Ajegunle, as well as play sports with members of the Nigerian Navy.

“We greatly appreciate Nigeria, and the city of Lagos, for welcoming our crew to their country,” Graham said. “Nigeria is the lynchpin for Gulf of Guinea maritime security; our Sailors are excited to be working with their counterparts at sea and to engage with Nigerian communities ashore.”

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.

“We’re happy to have our Ghanaian counterparts aboard and excited to work together,” Graham said. “Maritime security is not a one nation obligation. It takes cooperative efforts like this to achieve it.”

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.

USS Hershel “Woody” Williams’ return to the Gulf of Guinea builds upon exercise Obangame Express, continues to demonstrate US commitment to African partnerships, and ensures prosperity through maritime security and stability, the US Navy said. Both Ghana and Nigeria were amongst the 32 nations that participated in Obangame Express 2021, which concluded in March.

“We strongly value our Ghanaian and Nigerian partners, as it’s this kind of cooperation and communication that keeps the region safe,” Graham said. “The Gulf of Guinea’s size requires a team effort. It takes multiple coastal nations working together, for mutual benefit, and that’s what we see.”

USS Hershel “Woody” Williams is the first warship permanently assigned to the U.S. Africa Command area of responsibility. The ESB ship class is a highly flexible platform that may be used 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.