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American vessel docks at Walvis Bay


AN American naval vessel, the USS Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams, docked at Walvis Bay for a scheduled port visit on Saturday.

The crew will participate in a joint exercise with the Namibian Defence Force (NDF).

The ship was welcomed by the chargé d’affaires of the United States (US) embassy, Jessica Long, a senior delegation from the US Africa command, Namibian government and military leaders, members of civil society, and the international community.

The USS Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams is the first US navy ship that is permanently assigned to the US Africa Command (Africom) area of responsibility.

The captain of the ship, Chad Graham, on Saturday said the crew was excited to visit Namibia again and reiterated the need for the two countries to collaborate to ensure security, safety, and freedom of navigation in the Atlantic Ocean.

“Following our last visit to Walvis Bay in 2021, we hoped to continue fostering relationships with our Namibian counterparts. We are thrilled to be returning less than a year later, continuing to engage with our partners here, and to promote security in the region through a consistent maritime presence.

“Both the United States and Namibia recognise that the future security of these waters is critical for Africa’s prosperity and continued access to global markets,” he said.

Deputy to the commander for civil-military engagement of Africom ambassador Andrew Young, also stressed the importance of collaboration between the two countries.

“The commissioning of this vessel symbolises the United States’ commitment to advancing security within the region and to collaborate with our partners across the African continent to address some of the region’s most complex security challenges.

“Be it combating illegal, unregulated, and unreported (IUU) fishing, fighting piracy, countering violent extremism, or providing humanitarian assistance, this vessel provides a flexible platform capable of supporting regional security needs for decades to come.

“The United States shares a common commitment with Namibia to enhance security within the maritime domain. The sea serves as our global commons, providing both critical trade linkages and marine resources, and it is incumbent on nations to partner to protect it,” he said.

Earlier this year, Namibia participated in Exercise Obangame Express, the largest annual maritime security exercise in Western Africa, alongside neighbours, including Angola, and other partners, such as Brazil.

The exercises play a central role in strengthening bilateral partnerships and allowing partners to work more closely to address the region’s most pressing transnational maritime challenges.

Senior defence official and defence attaché to the US embassy in Namibia, lieutenant colonel William Lange, said: “The deployment of the Namibian Navy’s largest vessel, the NS Elephant, in support of Exercise Obangame Express 2022, illustrates not only the willingness of Namibia to partner in this domain, but also its commitment to assume a leadership role, serving as an example to other partners throughout the region.

“The United States Navy takes great pride in its partnership with the Namibian Navy, and looks forward to expanding this partnership in the years to come,” he said.

The USS Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams can accommodate 100 uniformed crew members and 45 civilian crew members, while an additional 150 people doing humanitarian work can also be accommodated.

The vessel will leave Walvis Bay tomorrow.


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