USS Hershel “Woody” Williams, the first warship permanently assigned to Africa, arrived in Nigeria’s commercial capital city of Lagos on Saturday as part of the U.S. government’s support to combat piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.
“Ship visits like this one clearly demonstrate the U.S.’s continued dedication to our partners in the Gulf of Guinea as they strive for the security of their resources, their economy, and their people,” U.S. Consul General in Lagos, Claire Pierangelo, told reporters Saturday.
Nigeria and other countries in West Africa lose about 800,000 tons of fish a year, worth almost $2 billion in gross revenue, to illegal activities by both foreign and domestic vessels, Pierangelo said. This removes vast seafood protein from the region.
Nigerian waters are at the center of the Gulf of Guinea, a vast expanse of the Atlantic Ocean stretching from Senegal to Angola.
The Gulf of Guinea has been described as the most dangerous part of the world for sailors, accounting for almost all kidnappings at sea in recent years.
“We’re here to train and work with the Nigerian Navy on anti-piracy, tactics, techniques, and procedures,” Hershel “Woody” Williams Captain Chad Graham said.
The U.S. investments and donations to the Nigerian military are worth more than $559 million, part of which is the naval coast guard transfers renamed NNS Okpabana and NNS Thunder.
The COVID-19 outbreak and restrictions led to a surge in piracy levels, though that slowed this year and is expected to ease further as economies pick up, Graham said.