US war ship departs
21 September 2021 | Infrastructure
Chad Graham; Captain; “The ESB class vessels provide a multi-role platform that can support a broad range of missions…”
The USS Hershel “Woody” Williams arrived on its maiden visit to the Port of Walvis Bay.
Vessel staff conducted joint exchanges with the Namibian Defence Force (NDF) and also welcomed Namibia’s military leadership to an on-board reception before the ship left the port on Saturday.
The USS Hershel “Woody” Williams is a Lewis B. Puller-class expeditionary sea base (ESB) and is the first US naval vessel permanently assigned to the Africa Command Area. It has participated in port visits and bilateral exercises with various African nations.
“The ESB class vessels provide a multi-role platform that can support a broad range of missions, ranging from troop deployments to humanitarian support missions,” Captain Chad Graham explained.
During the visit, the war ship leadership engaged with multiple components of the NDF, hosting representatives of the Namibian Air Force and Navy for a flight deck familiarization tour, which laid the groundwork for future Namibian Air Force operations on board the ship.
The crew also participated in a joint US-Namibian Navy football match at the Atlantis Sport Club in Walvis Bay. The final score was 5 - 3 in favour of the Namibian Navy.
The visit concluded with a joint US-Namibian Navy communications drill.
NS Brendan Simbwaye conducted a passage exercise and escorted the USS Hershel “Woody” Williams from Namibian territorial waters.
During this exercise, the ships conducted communication drills and practiced an at-sea rendezvous and joint manoeuvres.
US Charge d’Affairs Jessica Long said that the presence of the USS Hershel “Woody” Williams highlights the two nations’ commitment to ensuring safety, security and freedom of navigation on the high seas, not only in Namibian territorial waters, but in the South Atlantic as well.
“Our commitment to these principles is resolute, as they are vital to ensuring Namibia’s economic prosperity and its ability to access global markets. Namibia has been an essential partner in the Obangambe Express exercise series, which is the largest multilateral maritime exercise on the west coast of Africa.”
Long expressed the hope that the ship’s maiden visit would be the first of many and that these visits would fuel closer cooperation.
Namibian defence minister Frans Kapofi said the visit sent a clear message that “no matter how large a vessel is, Walvis Bay port is ready for it”.
The vessel sailed to Namibia from Luanda, Angola with 48 civilians and 152 military crewmembers, which is 100 shy of her 300-passenger capacity.
She departed for Cape Town on 18 September 2021.
The USS Hershel “Woody” Williams is named in honour of 22-year-old Corporal Hershel W. Williams, a Marine who served at Iwo Jima in the Second World War and was awarded the Medal of Honour.