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US military pauses construction of pier off Gaza due to bad weather

By Natasha Bertrand, CNN

(CNN) — The US military has had to pause construction of the humanitarian pier and causeway it is building off the coast of Gaza because of “forecasted high winds and high sea swells,” according to US Central Command.

The pause is “temporary,” CENTCOM said, and was necessary because the weather conditions “caused unsafe conditions for soldiers working on the surface of the partially constructed pier.” Construction of the pier began last week.

Construction has now moved to the Port of Ashdod, one of Israel’s three main cargo ports north of Gaza, CENTCOM said.

“The partially built pier and military vessels involved in its construction have moved to the Port of Ashdod, where assembly will continue, and will be completed prior to the emplacement of the pier in its intended location when sea states subside,” according to the statement.

CNN previously reported that as many as 1,000 US troops will be involved in the construction of the pier system known as Joint Logistics Over the Shore, or JLOTS, which when finished and fully operational could provide as many as 150 trucks per day to the starving population in Gaza.

Defense officials previously hoped that the JLOTS system would be fully built by Friday. But officials told CNN that sea state conditions have been extremely challenging off the coast of Gaza over the last week, impeding the work of the personnel involved in building the pier. One of the key tasks, for example, involves military divers working underneath the pier to ensure all the parts are secured and stable — a difficult and dangerous task when the seas are rough.

The operation of the pier and causeway, which will also require US military personnel to be stationed at sea, will also depend on weather conditions, officials say. Once it is up and running, the US Army and Navy will constantly assess sea state conditions to determine whether a pause in operations is necessary to keep US personnel safe, which will likely affect the tempo of aid delivery operations.

Once the pier system is up and running, a massive container ship called the Sagamore will be the first vessel to begin ferrying humanitarian aid from Cyprus to the pier, the defense officials told CNN. The Sagamore was contracted by US Transportation Command and is over 600 feet long, or nearly the length of two football fields. The ship is currently at port in Cyprus, according to maritime tracking sites.

The Sagamore is expected to be the initial transporter of aid to the pier, the officials said, but the goal is for other aid groups to begin contracting their own cargo ships to ferry the aid once they see that the pier is safe and functional.

Aid has already begun flowing into Cyprus to be shipped to Gaza via the maritime corridor. USAID administrator Samantha Power wrote on X on Friday that “500+ pallets of humanitarian aid” would soon be arriving in Cyprus and then routed through the maritime corridor “to meet dire needs in Gaza.”

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