US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, during his visit to Souda Naval Base on Crete on Tuesday, announced that the base would become the new home for the giant vessel the USS Hershel “Woody” Williams.
The ship, which has the capacity for four helicopters on its flight deck, can launch unmanned assets, and includes command and control systems, will substantially increase the American military presence in Greece.
Analysts say that the US move could be construed as a symbolic show of support for Greece in its tense standoff with Turkey.
At 784 feet long (230 meters), the ship features a 52,000 square-feet (4,830 square-meter) four-spot flight deck. Further features include a hangar, mission deck, and work and living spaces for hundreds of embarked personnel.
— U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet (@USNavyEurope) August 13, 2020
The ship was named in honor of Hershel W. “Woody” Williams in an announcement by then-Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, on January 14, 2016. Williams is a Marine who earned the Medal of Honor in the Battle of Iwo Jima, during World War II.
Secretary Pompeo described Greece as “a true pillar of stability and prosperity in the Eastern Mediterranean” during his visit, adding that the relationship between the two countries was “at an all-time high.”
He stated in his remarks that “thanks to the Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement signed last year, our military-to-military relationship has been enhanced significantly.”