U.S. Navy Ship Heading To Gaza For Building Temporary Dock Returns After Engine Room Fire

USNS 2nd Lt. John P. Bobo
Image Credits: Wikipedia

A US Navy ship assigned to help build a dock for transporting crucial supplies to Gaza people was forced to return due to an engine room fire, according to the US Navy.

On April 11, the USNS 2nd Lt. John P. Bobo was en route to the eastern Mediterranean Sea when the fire broke out.

Although the crew was able to extinguish the fire using portable extinguishers and evacuate the area, the ship was forced to return to Jacksonville, Florida, with only one engine for further inspection, according to a Navy statement issued on April 17, 2024.

This setback comes as the Pentagon’s self-imposed deadline for operationalising the pier and transporting aid to Gaza by May.

Experts worry that additional delays and complications might hinder the mission.

The initial plan, published in early March, intended to build the pier immediately using the Joint Logistics Over-the-Shore (JLOTS) platform.

Major General Pat Ryder initially declared that the pier would be operational within 60 days.

Following the announcement, five Army ships left for the Mediterranean, followed by the MV Roy P. Benavidez, a military sealift command vessel carrying heavy equipment and materials needed to build a temporary dock.

In late March, the Navy announced plans to deploy Naval Beach Group 1 with the Bobo and the USNS 1st Lt. Baldomero Lopez, outfitted with sufficient watercraft and equipment to operate a massive floating dock three miles off the shore of Gaza.

However, more than a month later, not all ships have reached the Mediterranean, according to a tracker maintained by USNI News. Sal Mercogliano, an academic and shipping expert, pointed out that the Army Landing Craft Utility ship Wilson Wharf appears to be stuck in Tenerife.

At the same time, the Army’s Logistics Support Vessel, General Frank S. Besson, spent a significant amount of time in the Azores before arriving at the Navy’s base in Souda Bay, Greece, indicating potential technical difficulties.

A retired Army chief warrant officer raised concern about the condition of the Army ships, citing maintenance concerns and potential impacts on pier building.

He stressed the absence of safety aboard these ships, raising concerns about their ability to safeguard the mission.

Ryder reassured reporters about Israeli support for maritime security and the Navy’s 6th Fleet’s capabilities in the area in response to safety concerns.

He also explained the timescale for acquiring operational capability, distinguishing between initial and full operational capability.

Ryder agreed that pier building might start in the next two to three weeks, but he insisted that the JLOTS project will become operational by the end of April or the beginning of May.

The cause of the engine room fire on the USNS 2nd Lt. John P. Bobo is still under investigation.

Reference: military.com

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