The United States Navy Expeditionary Sea Base USS Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams (ESB 4) arrived in Cape Town for a scheduled port visit on Saturday 25 September, its second visit to the South African port.
With less than two years of service in the US Navy, the Lewis B Puller-class Expeditionary Support Base (ESB) was commissioned on 7 March 2020. It is designed to support special forces missions, counter-piracy/smuggling operations, maritime security operations and mine clearance, as well as humanitarian aid and disaster relief missions.
Arriving from Namibia where it spent three days hosting Namibian government and military leaders as well as undertaking a number of joint exercises, the three-week stop in Table Bay Harbour, Cape Town, will allow a restock for fuel and re-supply for the ship.
This is the second visit of the vessel to Cape Town, the first visit being in February this year. Once again, strict COVID-19 protocols means that there will be no public tours to the ship, but the crew will have the opportunity to visit and enjoy the delights of Cape Town.
“It has been less than a year since the Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams was in Cape Town to work with our South African partners on issues of mutual and international interest, such as maritime security,” said Captain Chad Graham, Commanding Officer of the USS Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams.
“Our frequent stops in South Africa illustrate our dedication to engaging with our counterparts here strategically, but also our excitement to continue building on our two nations’ already-strong relationship through cultural exchange.”
“This USS Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams visit is one more step in bolstering our already strong security cooperation. We at the US Consulate General are delighted that Cape Town is again hosting the ship, as we firmly believe that working together to promote international security will lead to greater prosperity and security for our two nations,” said William Stevens, Acting US Consul General to South Africa.
As such, the visit will include engagement opportunities with South African government and military leaders, cultural presentations, ship tours as well as religious and medical exchanges.
Senior officers from the US Navy and US Africa Command (AFRICOM) are also visiting the country to hold talks with the SA Navy and SANDF.
Whilst no at-sea exercises with the South African Navy are planned, it is hoped that 22 Squadron, South African Air Force based at nearby AFB Ysterplaat, will be able to make use of the opportunity to land aboard the large vessel.
USS Hershel Williams is the first warship permanently assigned to the US Africa Command area of responsibility.
Homeported in Souda Bay, Greece, the ship conducts US Africa Command (AFRICOM) missions in the Mediterranean and the waters around East, South, and West Africa to include the southern Mediterranean, operating with regional partners. The ship supports security cooperation missions and operations in and around the African continent.