America has deployed the first naval ship to Eastern Africa in over a decade to boost maritime security and allow freedom of navigation in the region. This comes two months after Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta received the US-Africa Command (Africom) Gen. Stephen Townsend in Nairobi.

The Expeditionary Sea Base USS Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams (ESB 4) has been deployed along the Eastern and Horn of Africa coastal line as Kenya and US seek to strengthen military co-operation.

The naval ship can be used for a broad range of military operations acting as a mobile sea base to support multiple operational phases. Its deployment comes amid a diplomatic crisis between Somalia and Kenya.

During the December 12, 2020 meeting between Kenyan and US officials in Nairobi, America promised to offer Kenya security assistance by professionalising the Kenyan military forces, increasing the country’s counterterrorism as well as border security capabilities, besides others like increasing peacekeeping capabilities and maritime security.

Last week on Tuesday, Kenya’s Defence Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma received the vessel at the Port of Mombasa. Details on how long the ship will be deployed along the Indian Ocean remain scanty.

The ship’s commander Vice Administrator Gene Black said Kenya is a strategic partner and a priority for the United States and will remain an integral part of a successful US-African alliance.

During the stay of the ship, it will support security co-operation missions and operations in and around the African continent. The deployment of the naval ship demonstrates America’s commitment to African countries through interoperability training, maritime security and safety to allow for freedom of navigation within the region.