The US Navy’s Lewis B Puller-class expeditionary sea base USS Hershel “Woody” Williams (ESB 4) at the beginning of July arrived in the Seychelles on a scheduled stop.
Anchoring at Victoria on 3 July, the port visit comes shortly after the passing of the ship’s namesake, Medal of Honour recipient retired Chief Warrant Officer (CWO) 4 Hershel Woodrow “Woody” Williams. Williams passed away on 29 June 2022, at the age of 98. He was awarded the Medal of Honour following his actions in the Battle of Iwo Jima during World War II.
“This port visit in Seychelles is bittersweet to the crew, as it allows us a much needed break but also time to celebrate the life of our ship’s namesake,” said Captain Chad Graham, commanding officer of the vessel.
As the ship’s crew prepares to mark Woody’s life in a future remembrance ceremony, Graham and the ship’s crew look to another important mission, US Africa Command (Africom) reports. While in Victoria, the crew will be afforded the chance to strengthen relations with the people of the Seychelles while representing the Navy and Military Sealift Command as well as their namesake to the local population.
USS Hershel “Woody” Williams is the first warship permanently assigned to the US Africa Command area of responsibility. The vessel is no stranger to the Seychelles, having visited in October 2021 to take on supplies and fuel.
The United States works closely with the Seychelles on maintaining peace and countering challenges to maritime security in the waters surrounding East Africa. In July 2021, the US Embassy Acting Deputy Chief of Mission Thom Kohl, and Seychelles Minister for Internal Affairs, Errol Fonseka signed the first bilateral maritime agreement between the US and an East African country.
The agreement on Countering Illicit Transnational Maritime Activity Operations enables the US and Seychelles to strengthen their shared maritime governance by better detecting, deterring, and suppressing illicit transnational maritime activities, according to the US Navy.
Additionally, Seychelles hosted exercise Cutlass Express in July and August 2021, a multinational maritime exercise held in East Africa and the Western Indian Ocean. These types of exercises strengthen partnerships and allow countries to work more closely on shared transnational maritime challenges.