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American Landing Craft Go Aground in Gaza in Heavy Weather

Cargo trucks carry aid for Gaza off an American sealift ship for transfer to a U.S. Army landing craft, May 20 (U.S. Army)
Cargo trucks carry aid for Gaza off an American sealift ship for transfer to a U.S. Army landing craft, May 20 (U.S. Army)

Published May 26, 2024 6:28 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Saturday, a storm hit the U.S.-run aid pier off Gaza's coast, breaking four Army landing craft loose from their moorings alongside the floating structure and sending them drifting onto the beach. Two went ashore in Gaza, and two more are on the beach within Israeli territory to the north, according to the Wall Street Journal. 

No one was hurt in the casualty, but photos released by Reuters appear to show a handful of U.S. troops in a temporary "feet-dry" status on the sand in Israel. It is unclear whether servicemembers were forced to disembark on contested territory; the White House has pledged that no American boots will touch the ground during the operation.

In a statement Saturday, the Pentagon reiterated that American troops will not enter Gaza. The aid pier remains fully functional, and "efforts to recover the vessels are under way with assistance from the Israeli Navy," U.S. Central Command said in a statement.

The grounding is the latest in a string of setbacks and delays for the aid pier. During the mobilization and setup process in April, USNS 2nd Lt. John P. Bobo - a ro/ro cargo ship operated by Military Sealift Command - suffered a fire in a mechanical space and had to return to port for repairs. Heavy weather further delayed the construction plan. Even after it became functionally operational, the pier did not deliver meaningful quantities of aid to recipients until last week because of serious security challenges in the shoreside distribution system. And last week, three personnel were hurt in a non-combat accident during cargo operations. ABC reported that the injuries were caused by a forklift mishap during the offloading of a Ready Reserve sealift ship, the Roy P. Benavidez. The three victims were transferred to an Israeli hospital for care, including one individual who was in critical condition.