U.S. Gaza Aid Pier Shut Down After Damage from Heavy Weather

May 28, 2024 3:17 PM - Updated: May 28, 2024 10:42 PM
A section of the U.S. Gaza pier off the coast of Gaza on May 28, 2024. Still from a post on X.

A U.S. aid operation to send humanitarian aid to Gaza is shut down after a section of a U.S. humanitarian pier and at least four Army watercraft broke free from their moorings due to heavy sea states and were beached off the coast of Gaza, defense officials said Tuesday.
On Tuesday, part of the Trident pier, where Army watercraft unload aid trucks, separated from the larger structure and floated off the coast of Gaza. As a result, the humanitarian pier will be unmoored from the beach for repair within the next two days, Pentagon spokesperson Sabrina Singh told reporters on Tuesday.

The Trident pier will be towed to Ashdod, where U.S. Central Command forces will conduct repairs, Singh told reporters.

“The rebuilding and repairing of the pier will take at least over a week and following completion will need to be reanchored to the coast of Gaza,” she said.

Soldiers assigned to the 7th Transportation Brigade (Expeditionary), U.S. Navy Sailors assigned to Amphibious Construction Battalion 1, and Israel Defense Forces emplace the Trident Pier on the Gaza coast, May 16, 2024. US Army Photo

The damage to the pier comes after four U.S. Army watercraft that are part of the pier operations were beached after heavy seas on Saturday.

“As of today, one of the Army vessels that was beached on the coast of Israel near Ashkelon has been recovered,” Signh said.
“The second vessel that was also beached near Ashkelon will be recovered in the next 24 hours, and the remaining two vessels that were beached near the Trident pier are expected to be recovered in the next 48 hours. Efforts to recover the vessels are underway with the assistance from the Israeli Navy.”

Video posted on social media showed the section with U.S. military equipment bobbing off the Gaza coast. A source familiar with the damage confirmed to USNI News that the content of the video was accurate.

A landing craft and a warping tug were beached on the coast of Israel near Ashkelon on Saturday. According to the Times of Israel, the landing craft attempted to recover the tug after it broke free of its moorings.

Singh told reporters it was a “perfect storm” of high sea states and a North African weather system that caused the pier to disassemble and for the ships to break free from their moorings.

“What I can tell you is that we don’t control the weather,” Singh said. “There was an unfortunate, unique pattern of events with high seas and another storm that came in that caused the [pier] to become inoperable during that time.”

Officials said there were no injuries from the incident and that no U.S. personnel did or would set foot in Gaza during the recovery operations.

Although the temporary pier broke apart after two weeks, Singh told reporters the Defense Department does not classify it as a failure.

“In those two weeks, what I would say is that over 1,000 metric tons of aid got to the people in Gaza. So I don’t think that’s a total loss. I think it’s pretty important for the people that are suffering right now, that are in a dire humanitarian situation, to get whatever aid they can want by whatever means,” she said.

Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, the deputy commander of U.S. Central Command, voiced concerns about rough seas in a call to reporters last week.

“Historically, by early September, the seas begin to rise, and Mother Nature gets a vote here. That’s where we stand,” said Cooper on the possibility of departing by late summer.

“I think we’re just going to have to see what [the] weather looks like going forward,” he said.

It has been almost two weeks since the Army’s Joint Logistics Over the Shore operation off Gaza began funneling aid to the shore. Between May 17-25, the pier facilitated the delivery of 1,005 tons of humanitarian supplies, according to CENTCOM.

Speaking to reporters, Singh said the pier was “not going to be a solve for land routes.”

Aid is currently getting loaded onto vessels in Cyprus in anticipation of the repaired pier, Singh said.

About 1,000 U.S. military personnel are part of the operation that sends humanitarian aid over the shore to Gaza via the pier. Last week, three were injured during the pier operations, including one soldier who was evacuated to Israel for treatment. As of Tuesday, the soldier was still in critical condition, a defense official told USNI News.

USNI News staff writers Heather Mongilio and Sam LaGrone contributed to this report. 

Aaron-Matthew Lariosa

Aaron-Matthew Lariosa

Aaron-Matthew Lariosa is a freelance defense journalist based in Washington, D.C.

Get USNI News updates delivered to your inbox