US Navy’s Expeditionary Sea Base docks in Cape Town
Cape Town - The visit by the USS Hershel "Woody" Williams, a Lewis B. Puller-class expeditionary mobile base, currently in service with the United States Navy to the Table Bay harbour, is to emphasise the importance of secure oceans to strengthen growth and trade, according to acting US Consul general in Cape Town Will Stevens.
“With over 90% of the global trade travelling the world's oceans, seaborne trade is the lifeblood of the world's economy and we have to ensure that our oceans are protected,” said Stevens.
The visit builds on US maritime partnerships with African nations and improves maritime safety and security in the region.
“The visit is yet another indication of the deep abiding partnership between South Africa and the United States. This is a partnership that builds shared prosperity, saves lives and creates security both in South Africa and the US and around the African continent. Ships like the USS Hershel Williams are the backbone of America's commitment to contributing not just to our own security but to ensure that the world's oceans remain free and open,” said Stevens.
Stevens said the US was eager to partner with South Africa and like-minded partners in the African region and to ensure that the region could be free from piracy, illegal fishing, terrorism and transactional threats.
He said a trade and investment promotional partnership that would reinforce and elevate the already robust trade and investment connections was recently launched between the US and the province.
“I am confident that we will see increases to the already R15 billion in annual bilateral trade between the US and the Western Cape. Trade is only possible because of this secure port and the safe and secure sea lands,” he said.
Director of SA Navy Fleet Force Preparation Andre de Wet said sea power was the only way countries could stabilise the economy and South Africa needed to invest more in it.
De Wet said the ship’s visit would enable the SA Navy to have a benchmark on what the ship could do to gain knowledge.
“We have some ideas on where we can take it on a much greater scale. We can look at what they do because they operate in different environments, we can share that and all build together a picture of what's happening throughout the world and what we have to be prepared for in terms of the operations that we encounter at sea.
“We have to benchmark what other navies are doing as well, and continuously do that. Covid-19 has forced the navy to shut down in the last year and it's now about bringing it back up so that we can operate.”