USS Hershel “Woody” Williams completes repairs in Cape Town


The US Navy’s Expeditionary Sea Base (ESB) USS Hershel “Woody” Williams has become the first such vessel to complete repairs in South Africa after undergoing two weeks of maintenance in Cape Town’s Cruise Terminal.

The US Navy said the ship received preventative and preservative repairs to the flight deck safety nets, mission deck, freeboard and superstructure, as well as the insulation and lighting fixtures and these were concluded on 11 October. The vessel arrived in South Africa on 25 September.

The Voyage Repair (VR) work packages were completed on, or ahead of schedule, marking a milestone for maintenance in new and unchartered territory for the US Navy.

The maintenance activity in South Africa also prompted the first Naval Logistic Support flight into Cape Town in support of a US naval warship.

The US Naval Forces Europe-Africa/US Sixth Fleet (Naveur-Navaf-Sixthflt) Readiness and Logistics team and US Embassy to Pretoria coordinated this logistic support through the US Air Force Europe-Africa (USAFE-AFAFRICA) Multinational Heavy Lift Airlift Wing (HAW), based out of Papa Air Base, Hungary. The Hungarian C-17A Globemaster III is operated by the United States, alongside 11 NATO and Partnership for Peace nations, under the Strategic Airlift Capability (SAC) programme.

“I am so proud of the incredible cooperative efforts between our partners in South Africa, HAW, and our team to enable this milestone resupply flight for HWW,” said Rear Admiral Michael Curran, Readiness and Logistics, Naveur-Navaf. “The accomplishment of the mission and level of coordination between the teams was nothing short of outstanding. This flight demonstrated what can be accomplished with our friends when we bring our collective capabilities together.”

The HAW provides worldwide airlift response capability for the 12 member nations. Operations can include national support to the European Union, NATO, United Nations operations, or national military, peacekeeping and humanitarian relief operations. In this case, the military flight carried approximately 12 000 kg of critical medical and general material as well as mail and other items required to continue mission tasking in the southern border of the Africom and Navaf area of operations, the US Navy said.

Hershel “Woody” Williams previously visited Cape Town in February to resupply fuel and promote maritime security through a persistent presence in African waters.

“As the only ship permanently assigned to Africom, much of what we do is geared toward continuing to build ties with partner nations in Africa, and exploring how we can work together,” said Captain Chad Graham, commanding officer, Hershel “Woody” Williams. “This maintenance period was a perfect example of that, where we received mission critical repairs from a South African company [Dormac Marine & Engineering], and benefitted the local economy.”

The US Navy said South Africa is an important partner of the United States in promoting peace and security in Africa. Both South Africa and the United States rely on maritime shipping, and free and secure sea-lanes for economic prosperity.