Gaza Aid Pier Washes Away, US Ship Runs Around in Retrieval Attempt

The pier that the U.S. military constructed to bring aid to Gaza broke apart on Tuesday, sustaining damage in the seas in the process.

The incident represents a huge blow to the U.S.-led effort to create a corridor on the water where humanitarian supplies can be safely delivered to the enclave, which is being torn apart by the ongoing war, according to the Pentagon.

On Tuesday, Sabrina Singh, the deputy press secretary for the Pentagon, said the structure was “damaged and sections of the pier need rebuilding and repairing.”

By this week, the pier will have to be removed from where it is on the coast of Gaza and taken to Ashdod, a port in Israel. Once there, US Central Command will repair the pier, which should take a week or more, Singh said.

This will further delay the efforts to get this corridor up and running completely.

Before Singh released her comments to the press, four different officials with the U.S. government confirmed to CNN that the pier sustained heavy damage in the rough seas and broke apart.

The officials added that, on Sunday, a part of the pier actually disconnected. That section included a narrow causeway that’s used to drive humanitarian aid to Gaza, as well as a parking area where supplies can be dropped off after they’re delivered by a ship.

Before the pier can be fully operational again, the parking area needs to be reconnected to the causeway.

US Central Command added that the pier broke three days after rough seas forced two other small vessels belonging to the U.S. Army to beach in Israel. Two more vessels broke free of moorings that were anchored close to the pier.

Singh said that, on Saturday, troops who were on the vessels that were beached were evacuated. In her statement released on Wednesday, Singh said:

“[O]n May 25, heavy sea states caused four U.S Army vessels operating in support of the JLOTS pier operations to become beached. Two vessels were beached in Gaza near the base of the pier and two were beached near Ashkelon in Israel. US. personnel on those vessels were evacuated on Saturday, May 25.”

It was only two weeks ago, on May 17, that the $320 million pier started operating. Just a week after that, on May 24, heavy seas forced all maritime shipments to come to a stop — and that came only two days before the pier disconnected.

It’s not clear at this point when the shipments will be able to start back up again. 

In order to operate properly, the pier — known as the Joint Logistics Over the Shore, or JLOTS — has to have nearly perfect sea conditions. The maximum height of waves is only three feet, and winds have to be less than roughly 15 miles per hour, according to a CNN report.