Vice Adm. Kevin E. Lunday, commander of U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area, presented the Coast Guard Special Operations Service Ribbon to the crew of USS Hershel “Woody” Williams (ESB 4) during a ceremony at the Portsmouth Lightship, Monday, Aug. 22, 2022.
The Coast Guard Special Operations Service Ribbon is awarded to personnel of the U.S. Armed Forces who participated in Coast Guard operations of a special nature, not involving combat.
Capt. Michael Concannon, gold crew commanding officer of Hershel “Woody” Williams, accepted the award on behalf of the crew.
In April, Hershel “Woody” Williams completed a deployment in support of U.S. Naval Forces Africa, conducting a wide range of operations including counter-narcotics and combatting illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing in the waters off of Africa’s Atlantic coast.
During the deployment, Hershel “Woody” Williams operated with an embarked Coast Guard law enforcement detachment as well as maritime forces from Cabo Verde and Sierra Leone. With the support of the embarked partner forces, U.S. personnel were able to assist with law enforcement operations within each partner’s respective territorial waters.
The joint and combined U.S.-African team conducted a counter-narcotics boarding of a fishing vessel, which resulted in the seizure of approximately 6,000 kilograms of suspected cocaine and transferred seven suspects to Cabo Verde officials.
Additionally, Hershel “Woody” Williams and the embarked Coast Guard law enforcement detachment supported the interdiction of a fishing vessel illegally operating within the exclusive economic zone of Sierra Leone. The vessel and its crew were escorted into port and transferred to Sierra Leonean authorities.
“I’m proud of the superior operations and mission outcomes by the crew of USS Hershel “Woody” Williams,” said Lunday. “This collaboration between the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Navy, and our African partners highlights the capabilities of America’s maritime services and our ability to aid partner nations as they seek to build their maritime security and economic prosperity.”
Coast Guard tactical law enforcement teams are made up of deployable law enforcement detachments, which provide specialized law enforcement and maritime security capabilities to enforce U.S. laws across the full spectrum of maritime response situations, as well as maritime security augmentation to designated elements of other U.S. government agencies in support of Coast Guard, national security, and law enforcement operations in the maritime environment.
The U.S. shares a common interest with African partner nations in ensuring security, safety, and freedom of navigation on the waters surrounding the continent, because these waters are critical for Africa’s prosperity and access to global markets.
Deployment of Hershel “Woody” Williams by U.S. Naval Forces Africa to Africa’s Atlantic coast demonstrates a commitment to helping our African partners improve security. The ship is an expeditionary sea base, which is capable of conducting counter-piracy, maritime security, and humanitarian and disaster relief operations, as well as supporting a variety of rotary wing aircraft. Acting as a mobile sea base, Hershel “Woody” Williams is a part of the critical access infrastructure that supports the deployment of forces and supplies to support global missions.
For over 80 years, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-U.S. Naval Forces Africa has forged strategic relationships with allies and partners, leveraging a foundation of shared values to preserve security and stability.
U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area, headquartered in Portsmouth, Virginia, oversees all Coast Guard operations east of the Rocky Mountains to the Arabian Gulf, spanning across five Coast Guard districts and 40 states.