Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Question: Does Gaza Have a Deep-Sea Port?


Info on Amalthea and Gaza "port" is sketchy but available. M/V Amalthea isn't a deep draft ship, at maximum 7.45 meters (fore, versus 6.2 mtrs aft). She could snuggle up pretty close to the Gaza coastline. (If you look at the Google Earth image in the link below, you'll see half a dozen ships of Amalthea's size anchored within a mile of the shoreline.) The ship's master would want a good 10 meters under the keel most of the way, but there appear to be multiple approaches that would enable him to get right up to Wadi Gaza (the delta at the port opening). He'd have to watch for sandbars and underwater rock hazards, but it looks feasible.

The bigger problem is the overall lack of infrastructure, both at sea and ashore. For routine near-shore navigation, you'd want pilot tugs like the ones used to steer tankers around the Ashkelon offshore oil terminal to the north. And improved piers and cargo handling facilities just don't exist in Gaza. To create a full-service port, a sizable area offshore would need to be dredged. For Amalthea or any similar freigher to deliver goods, the most likely method would be human handling over a primitive gangway -- or, transfer offshore to small boats. The latter has worked for Hamas in the past (see the link below).

Bottom line on all this is that it would be inconvenient and inefficient to deliver cargo to Gaza by sea. This is ALL about the political goal of breaking the blockade.


Amalthea specs

NGIA Sailing Directions for Eastern Med

Academic paper on Gaza coastal zone w/good description of bathymetry

Google Earth image of Gaza coast

Academic paper reflecting non-development of Gaza port

2009 piece quoting IDF official on Hamas' at-sea logistic methods

J. E. Dyer
CDR, USN (Ret.)

Sometimes, you simply need someone who knows his/her stuff.

It's that easy.

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