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Gaza Pier ready for deliveries, Navy command ship USS Mount Whitney underway

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

The U.S.-built pier that will deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza is ready for delivery, according to photos released Thursday by U.S. Central Command.
The pier, assembled by the U.S. Army’s 7th Transportation Brigade, was positioned and secured to shore this week with help from the Israeli Defense Forces, Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, deputy commander of the CENTCOM.

“IDF engineers prepared the Gaza beach and secured the temporary pier on the beach,” Cooper said.
“This group of engineers was specially trained for this mission by U.S. Army engineers over the previous weeks on a beach in Israel.”

Over the past two months, army craft and navy ships have gathered in the eastern Mediterranean to build a logistics chain from supplies from Cyprus to Gaza that would increase humanitarian aid to civilians stuck there. Announced in President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address in March, the effort promised to provide up to 2 million meals per day.

“Across the Gaza Strip, 2.2 million people, the entire population, face acute food insecurity,” Sonali Korde of USAID told reporters Thursday.
“More than half of the population in the north is in a catastrophic situation, and I want to emphasize how dire this situation is for the most vulnerable, especially mothers and children, and it is up to those which we especially strive to help with our help.

About 1,000 U.S. military personnel, including Virginia’s 7th TBX and Naval Beach Group 1, operate the pier to Gaza and a transit hub for goods about two miles from the coast. According to the current plan, the cargo is checked in Cyprus and then shipped to the platform located three kilometers from the shore of the dock.

Photos on social media show a Besson-class army craft moored at the dock on Thursday and the maritime administration ship MV. Roy A. Benavidez off the coast of Gaza. Ship spotters tracked the US-flagged container ship MV Sagamorewhich departed from Cyprus on Thursday and was seen transferring cargo to Benavidezshipping analyst Sal Mercogliano told USNI News.

The White House and Pentagon promised that no American troops would set foot in Gaza and that Israel would take responsibility for protecting the dock and goods in its territorial waters.

“Israel has dedicated a brigade of troops, ships and air assets focused solely on force protection for this operation. We have been working closely with the Israel Defense Forces for six weeks to ensure that all aspects of logistics operations, command and control, communications and force protection are in place,” Cooper told reporters Thursday.

Additionally, two US guided-missile destroyers are in the Eastern Mediterranean operating outside Israel’s 12 nautical miles of territorial sea to support Israeli-led operations.

The presence of DDGs assigned to the mission was first reported by Military.com.

The Blue Ridge-class command ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC-20) sails in the Mediterranean Sea, Oct. 3, 2023. U.S. Navy photo

Meanwhile, the command ship of the US 6th Fleet was back in the Mediterranean Sea, as US sailors and soldiers prepare to deliver the first shipment of humanitarian aid via the Gaza pier.

USS Mount Whitney (LCC-20) departed its home port of Gaeta, Italy, on Tuesday, according to a statement from the U.S. 6th Fleet.

“During (his) patrol, Mount Whitney “We will work with our allies and partners to support maritime operations, which encompass naval diplomacy and national efforts to build comprehensive maritime power of the United States and its allies,” the statement read.

Equipped with a wide range of communications equipment, Mount Whitney serves as the flagship of the commander of the U.S. 6th Fleet, allowing commanders more freedom to direct operations from international waters rather than from an allied base.

Leaders on board Mount Whitney coordinated the first U.S. Navy presence operations following the Oct. 7 Hamas attack in southern Israel.