The newest of the US Navy’s expeditionary sea base ships that support special operations forces and airborne mine countermeasures operations will be permanently based at the Souda Bay naval facility in Greece, the service has announced.
USS Hershel “Woody” Williams (ESB 4) shifted its homeport from Norfolk, Virginia, to Greece, effective October 1. The ship entered US Navy service in March this year and embarked on its maiden operational deployment in July.
Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams conducts US Africa Command AFRICOM missions in the Mediterranean, and the waters around East, South and West Africa, to include the Gulf of Guinea operating with regional partners.
“The ship provides a new capability in the theater, which enhances our interoperability with our partners across the spectrum of maritime operations,” said Vice Adm. Gene Black, commander, US Sixth Fleet. “The unique design of the ship fosters inter-service operations with our US Marine Corps and Special Operations communities, which improves our ability to ensure maritime security and stability.”
Due to the ship’s extended overseas assignment, Military Sealift Command (MSC) will conduct her routine maintenance in existing facilities at NSA Souda Bay and other overseas ports, the navy said.
The ship’s two-fold mission provides the US a forward deployed naval presence in Africa, as well as increased naval power through Navy and Marine Corps integrated operations, including Marine aviation and support to amphibious operations. Other operations and training capabilities the ship performs include support to special operations, command and control, and staging of equipment.
NSA Souda Bay serves as a naval logistics hub for US 6th Fleet, providing support to US warships and logistics ships in the region.