US Navy’s sole ship for Africa returns to Europe after Gulf of Guinea mission

By Julian Pecquet
Posted on Wednesday, 27 April 2022 10:50

The Military Sealift Command expeditionary sea base USNS Hershel 'Woody' Williams is at anchor in the Chesapeake Bay, US on 15 September 2019 during mine countermeasure equipment testing. (U.S. Navy photo by Bill Mesta/Released)
The Military Sealift Command expeditionary sea base USNS Hershel 'Woody' Williams is at anchor in the Chesapeake Bay, US on 15 September 2019 during mine countermeasure equipment testing. (U.S. Navy photo by Bill Mesta/Released)

The first and only Navy ship permanently assigned to US Africa Command (Africom) has ended its latest deployment to the Gulf of Guinea, underscoring the American military’s lack of resources as it looks to counter Chinese encroachment in the region.

The USS Hershel “Woody” Williams returned to the US naval base in Rota, Spain, on 18 April after assisting African partners to combat drug trafficking and illegal fishing in coastal waters. The end of its maritime security mission leaves African waters without a US patrol presence until a US Coast Guard cutter can be dispatched later this year.

“Obviously we are not a command that has unlimited resources. We are forced to prioritise,” Capt. John Tully, the director of African Engagements for US Naval Forces Africa, told reporters on a media call this week.