The United States Navy’s Expeditionary Sea Base USS Hershel “Woody” Williams has spent three days in Namibia as part of a continent-wide tour, before heading to South Africa.
The Hershel Williams arrived in Walvis Bay on 16 September for the three-day stop. During the visit the ship’s crew hosted Namibian government and military leaders, including the country’s Minister of Defence, Frans Kapofi, and US Embassy Namibia staff to tour the ship and understand her capabilities.
During the visit a number of joint exercises were held, including the first ever-Namibian Air Force helicopter landing on-board a US Navy vessel; a ‘Visit, Board Search and Seizure’ exercise conducted by the Namibian Navy on-board the ship, as well as a joint US–Namibian Navy Passage Exercise.
The visit concluded with a joint US-Namibian Navy communications drill. The Namibian Grajaú class patrol boat launched in support of the USS Hershel “Woody” Williams departure and the US and Namibian Navies exercised their ship-to-ship and ship-to-shore communications interoperability.
Defence Attaché at the US Embassy in Namibia, Lieutenant Colonel William Lange, said the visit symbolised the United States’ commitment to collaborate with Namibia to combat illicit activities on the high seas and promote the sovereignty of Namibian territorial waters.
“By working together to promote security in the waters off Namibia’s coast, we enhance economic prosperity and ensure Namibia’s unfettered access to global markets, and we are looking forward to coming back to Namibia in the very near future,” he said.
“This exercise not only highlights US-Namibian military interoperability but lays the foundation for future bilateral maritime operations,” said US Chargé d’Affaires Jessica Long. “The United States looks forward to Namibia’s participation in Obangambe Express 2022 and future such exercises. This visit showcases the important partnership between the United States and Namibia, as well as a shared commitment to ensuring security, safety, and freedom of navigation in Namibian and south Atlantic waters.”
“The last time the US Navy visited Walvis Bay as a port-of-call was in 2012,” said Captain Chad Graham, commanding officer, USS Hershel “Woody” Williams. “We are hoping to use this current visit as an opportunity to continue to foster our relationship with the Namibian Navy.”
The US and Namibian Navy last worked together during exercise Obangame Express in March 2021, the largest multinational maritime exercise in Western Africa. “These types of exercises strengthen partnerships and allow countries to work more closely on shared transnational maritime challenges,” the US Navy said.
The ship arrived in Walvis Bay from Luanda in Angola where a similar visit was conducted. The ship is currently carrying 48 civilians and 152 military crewmembers, which is 100 shy of her 300-passenger capacity. Hershel Williams departed for Cape Town on Saturday 18 September and is due to arrive on the 25th, after which the vessel will dock for several weeks.