Gaza Maritime Aid Pier Installed and Ready to Begin Deliveries

Floating pier
Image courtesy USN

Published May 16, 2024 3:42 AM by The Maritime Executive

The American-led maritime aid corridor to the Gaza Strip is about to start operation, according to U.S. officials. about 1,000 U.S. servicemembers have installed a floating temporary pier to funnel food directly into Gaza, rather than using seaport infrastructure in Israel or Egypt. The final stage of installation began overnight Wednesday and was finished early Thursday morning (local time).

The pier project has been under way for months, and is nearly complete. Due to bad weather, the assembly of the floating causeway was finished in sheltered water at Ashdod's harbor, then towed out to a position off the coast. Overnight Wednesday, it will be installed and connected to shore, USAID response director Dan Dieckhaus told BBC. Deliveries will begin one to two days after that process is completed, officials said. 

Two U.S. Navy destroyers will be stationed near the pier to provide force protection, a Pentagon spokesman confirmed Wednesday. The mission has been planned with the safety of U.S. servicemembers in mind, given the location so near to an active combat zone, and the White House has pledged that there will be no American boots on the ground in Gaza. 

"The United States and Israel have developed an integrated security plan to protect all the personnel who are working," Vice Adm. Brad Cooper (USN) of Central Command told the AP. "We are confident in the ability of this security arrangement to protect those involved."

The first delivery will be made by the Military Sealift Command ship USNS Roy P. Benavidez, and will consist of about 170 tonnes of food aid. Thousands of tonnes more will soon flow through a staging point in Cyprus, according to U.S. officials. The estimated cost of the operation is about $320 million. 

The White House acknowledges that the floating pier is a supplement to preexisting logistics arrangements for trucking vitally-needed food aid into Gaza. Some UN officials and aid groups have panned the pier project as a distraction from the need to reopen longstanding cross-border logistics routes.