USS Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams Participates in Brazilian Exercise off Africa’s Atlantic Coast
By Major Thomas Perna/U.S. Marine Corps Forces, South September 08, 2021
The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps conducted at-sea training with the Brazilian Navy and Marine Corps in the Gulf of Guinea on Africa’s west coast, August 22-23.
The Brazilian Frigate Independência (F44) and the Expeditionary Sea Base USS Hershel “Woody” Williams (ESB 4) participated in multinational training during Exercise GUINEX-I, the first iteration of the Brazilian-led and designed initiative. The U.S. participated after receiving an invitation to help showcase the importance of maritime security for partner nations in the region.
Exercise GUINEX-I, which is occurring in August through September, is designed to enhance partnerships with countries in west and central Africa as well as with other countries interested in regional maritime security. This exercise enables the Brazilian Navy and Marine Corps to provide training and assistance to other navies and marine corps in the region with a focus on building capacity to combat piracy and other illicit maritime activities.
“These days when we talk about maritime security, we need to address interoperability; and to improve interoperability, joint exercises are essential,” said Commander Thiago Lopes da Silva, Brazilian liaison officer to U.S. Marine Corps Forces, South (MARFORSOUTH). “For sure, GUINEX-I is a great opportunity for the development of maritime security, not only for the countries involved, but for the entire Gulf of Guinea region.”
The exchange included integration of U.S., Brazilian, and Portuguese naval officers embarked aboard the Hershel “Woody” Williams in order to facilitate planning and support of the training events as well as create interoperability between all the forces.
The two ships integrated their training by executing compliant and non-compliant boardings, small boat operations, maritime domain awareness activities, and maneuver and communication drills. This event culminated in a passing exercise (PASSEX), where the ships coordinate maneuvers alongside and around each other to increase the operational readiness and interoperability of the two nations’ ships.
The U.S. and Brazil have a shared interest in Africa’s security, safety, prosperity, and freedom of navigation in the waters surrounding the continent. Brazil has a long and established history working with African partners and is engaged in their success; Exercise GUINEX-I is one example of that.
“Brazil is a global exporter of security and continues to create opportunity for mutual engagement abroad,” said Major Reese Johnson, Brazilian desk officer at MARFORSOUTH. “They are experienced, professional, and deeply engaged with their African partners.”
Earlier this year Brazil participated in the Naval Infantry Leaders Symposium – Africa, a multinational, Africa-focused forum, designed to bring together partner nations with marine forces and naval infantries to develop interoperability, crisis response capabilities, and foster relationships that will improve Africa’s maritime domain security.
In 2022 Brazil is scheduled to host exercise UNITAS, the longest-running, multinational maritime exercise in the world, as well as the Marine Leaders of the Americas Conference, a venue for key leaders to come together to discuss how multinational partners can collectively enhance multidomain security across the Western Hemisphere. These events along with GUINEX demonstrate Brazil’s leadership in the maritime domain and strengthen a globally aligned multinational partnership.