4 vessels carrying 100 US troops depart for Gaza port mission
U.S. soldiers with the 7th Transportation Brigade (Expeditionary) ready the USAV SP4 James A. Loux to deploy from Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va. on March 12, 2024. (Photo: Joseph Clark/U.S. Department of Defense. | Joseph Clark/U.S. Department of Defense)

It will take around 30 days to reach the eastern Mediterranean waters, with the goal to have the pier up and running in two months for humanitarian aid.

JNS Staff Report
March 13, 2024

Some 100 U.S. soldiers in four ships set off from the southeastern coast of Virginia on Tuesday for the eastern Mediterranean, where they will construct a temporary pier off the Gaza coast for humanitarian aid.

The vessels are carrying equipment and supplies “to establish a roll-on, roll-off dock capability that allows ship to shore humanitarian assistance to Gaza,” according to U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM).

Led by the larger Logistics Support Vessel USAV SP4 James A. Loux, the ships will take roughly 30 days to make their way to the Gaza coastline.

They departed from Joint Base Langley-Eustis, located adjacent to Hampton and Newport News, Virginia.

The facility to be constructed, which was announced by U.S. President Joe Biden during his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress last week, will consist of an offshore platform to transfer aid from larger to smaller ships, who will then sail to a pier to bring the shipments ashore.

Gaza pier
U.S. soldiers with the 7th Transportation Brigade (Expeditionary) ready the USAV SP4 James A. Loux to deploy from Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va. on March 12, 2024. The unit is deploying as part of a Joint Logistics Over-the-Shore mission to conduct 1,800-foot causeway off the coast of Gaza to enable the flow of critical aid from the sea to civilians affected by the ongoing conflict.
(Photo: Joseph Clark/U.S. Department of Defense)

The temporary pier will be up and running “at the 60-day mark,” said U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Brad Hinson according to AFP.

“Once we get fully mission-capable, we will be able to push up to two million meals, or two million bottles of water, ashore each day,” he said.

Biden emphasized during his speech that the project will not involve American “boots on the ground.”

“I’m not going to go into the specifics of who we’re working with in order to anchor the pier but we will have some assistance,” said Hinson.

The operation will involve a total of 500 troops from 7th Transportation Battalion (Expeditionary).

“They can provide sustainment support over the water in austere environments. They are trained to do this, and they’ve gone on many exercises to be ready to provide this capability,” Hinson said, as quoted by AFP.

Biden said on Friday that Israel will provide security for the temporary port.

CENTCOM announced early Sunday that USAV General Frank S. BessonJr. logistics support vessel had departed Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia en route to the eastern Mediterranean to provide humanitarian aid to Gaza by sea.

The vessel is “carrying the first equipment to establish a temporary pier to deliver vital humanitarian supplies,” CENTCOM said.

Separately, a ship carrying nearly 200 tons of food for Gaza departed Larnaca port in Cyprus early Tuesday as part of a pilot program to provide humanitarian aid to the coastal enclave via the Mediterranean Sea.

Gaza pier
U.S. soldiers with the 7th Transportation Brigade (Expeditionary) ready the USAV SP4 James A. Loux to deploy from Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va. on March 12, 2024. (Photo: Joseph Clark/U.S. Department of Defense)

U.S.-based World Central Kitchen, a major donor to Gaza relief efforts, said that it was delivering rice, flour, legumes, canned vegetables and proteins via a barge being towed by a ship belonging to the Spanish Open Arms aid group.

The United Arab Emirates is providing most of the funding for the mission, and the Cypriot Foreign Ministry is assisting in the effort.

World Central Kitchen said that it was building a temporary landing jetty in Gaza from destroyed buildings and rubble from the over five-month-old war between Israel and the Hamas terrorist group.

“Our goal is to establish a maritime highway of boats and barges stocked with millions of meals continuously headed towards Gaza,” World Central Kitchen founder José Andrés and chief executive officer Erin Gore said in a statement.

In an X post, Andres said that “construction of the Jetty is well underway. … We may fail, but the biggest failure will be not trying!”

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