Pro-Palestinian Demonstrators Try to Stop a Military Ro/Ro Ship

Demonstrators cling to the pilot ladder aboard the Cape Orlando at Oakland, November 3 (AROC)

Published Nov 5, 2023 8:43 PM by The Maritime Executive

The U.S. Coast Guard is investigating a small band of protesters who breached a fenceline and attempted to prevent the departure of a military sealift vessel at the Port of Oakland.

At 0830 on Friday morning, Sector San Francisco received a report that a demonstration was underway at a quay at Port of Oakland's outer harbor, next to the berth of the sealift ship Cape Orlando. One hour later, watchstanders learned that several of the protesters had breached the fence surrounding the pier. Some of the demonstrators staged a sit-in, but others began tampering with the ship's mooring lines and attempted to climb up the vessel's pilot ladder. 

Several Coast Guard boat crews and boarding teams were dispatched to assist, and at about 1000, they helped Coast Guard Investigative Service (CGIS) members and local law enforcement to remove the protesters from the pier. 

After local law enforcement moved the demonstrators away from the Cape Orlando, three people were still on the vessel's pilot ladder. The Sector San Francisco boarding team and CGIS removed the three remaining individuals from the vessel Friday afternoon. The Cape Orlando's crew cast off their lines and got under way shortly after. 

According to Sector San Francisco, the protesters who breached the fenceline and trespassed aboard the Cape Orlando are under investigation for potential violations of federal law.

Many of the demonstrators captured the events on video and shared the proceedings on social media, along with their personal perspectives (below). 


The protest's organizers believe that Cape Orlando is headed for Tacoma, Washington in order to take on a cargo of armament for delivery to Israel. The Israeli military is currently engaged in an operation to eliminate Hamas, the terrorist organization that killed 1,400 Israeli civilians and military personnel on October 7.  

So far, an estimated 9,500 Gazan residents have passed away during the responding aerial bombardment and ground operation, though these numbers are provided by the Hamas-controlled health authority and cannot be verified. The conflict has polarized the American public, and the protest at Oakland was not an isolated incident: On Saturday, thousands marched in San Francisco and Washington to call for a ceasefire in Gaza.

U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said Sunday that the Biden administration does not support a ceasefire, which he said would "simply leave Hamas in place, able to regroup and repeat" the October 7 attacks.

The Cape Orlando (ex name Finneagle) is a 21,000 dwt ro/ro cargo ship owned by the Maritime Administration and stationed at the Ready Reserve fleet at Alameda. As of Sunday night she was headed north along the California coast, her destination undeclared. Protest organizers have advertised plans to meet her in Tacoma.