A Nigerian Navy sailor, far right, meets crewmembers of the USS Hershel "Woody" Williams prior to exercises in the Gulf of Guinea. Photo by MCS3 Malachi Lekey/U.S. 6th Fleet
Aug. 6 (UPI) -- Sailors from the navies of Ghana and Nigeria joined the U.S. Navy's USS Hershel "Woody" Williams for maritime security training this week.
The vessel, an expeditionary sea base, returned to West Africa's Gulf of Guinea after participating in the 32-nation Obangame Express 2021 exercises in March.
The ship, 784 feet long, serves as a mobile sea platform capable of performing large-scale logistics movements such as the transfer of vehicles and equipment from sea to shore. Homeported at a NATO naval base on the Greek island of Crete, it also reduces the dependency on foreign ports.
During the exercises in the Gulf of Guinea, the ship was used by Ghana's Special Boat Squadron, a unit specializing in anti-piracy operations. It also participated in exercises with the Nigerian Navy.
"We're happy to have our Ghanaian counterparts aboard and excited to work together," Capt. Chad Graham, USS Williams commanding officer, said. "Maritime security is not a one nation obligation. It takes cooperative efforts like this to achieve it."
"We strongly value our Ghanaian and Nigerian partners, as it's this kind of cooperation and communication that keeps the region safe," Graham added. "The Gulf of Guinea's size requires a team effort. It takes multiple coastal nations working together, for mutual benefit, and that's what we see."
Numerous African rivers empty into the gulf, whose maritime security is overseen by 18 countries.