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USS Hershel “Woody” Williams Commanding Officer Relieved of Duties

08 July 2024

From Commander, U.S. 6th Fleet / Commander, Task Force SIX Public Affairs

NAPLES, Italy – Vice Adm. Thomas E. Ishee, Commander, U.S. 6th Fleet / Commander, Task Force SIX relieved Capt. Lenard C. Mitchell as the commanding officer of USS Hershel “Woody” Williams (ESB 4), due to a loss of confidence in his ability to command. Capt. Mitchell served as commanding officer of the Gold Crew since Nov. 20, 2022.

The relief occurred as a result of an investigation into the soft grounding of Hershel “Woody” Williams near the port of Libreville, Gabon on May 9, 2024. While the investigation is still open, sufficient findings of fact emerged during the investigation to warrant the relief of the commanding officer.

The U.S. Navy holds commanding officers to the highest standard and takes action to hold them accountable when those standards are not met. Naval leaders are entrusted with significant responsibilities to their Sailors and their ships.

Capt. Mitchell will be temporarily assigned to Commander, Naval Surface Forces Atlantic. Capt. Michael Concannon will assume duties as interim commanding officer onboard Hershel “Woody” Williams. There is no impact to the command’s mission or schedule due to the relief.

The Hershel “Woody” Williams, a Lewis B. Puller-class expeditionary mobile base is currently forward deployed to U.S. Naval Forces Africa.

For questions related to this release, contact U.S. Sixth Fleet / Task Force SIX Public Affairs at


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