UK Sends Royal Navy Auxiliary Ship to Aid Effort to Build Gaza Pier

Royal Navy auxiliary ship
RFA Cardigan Bay departed Cyprus to support the effort to build the pier in Gaza (Royal Navy)

Published Apr 26, 2024 2:05 PM by The Maritime Executive


The Royal Navy reported today that its support ship RFA Cardigan Bay is sailing from Cyprus to provide support to an international effort to build a temporary pier for the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza. The vessel has been in the region on long-term deployment and was positioned in the Middle East last November as part of the UK's increased presence after the Hamas attack on Israel and war in Gaza began.

RFA Cardigan Bay entered service in 2006 and has been deployed to the Persian Gulf region for more than a decade except for a period of maintenance. She is an amphibious ship designed to carry and offload troops and their equipment through a floodable dock at the stern and a large flight deck. The ship, which is nearly 177 meters long and 16,160 dwt, can also carry “mexeflotes,” 120-foot-long powered pontoons (rafts) that can be used to ferry equipment ashore. She is one of two Bay Class support ships the UK sent to the region.

“RFA Cardigan Bay has shown her flexibility and agility by reconfiguring her role as an Afloat Forward Support Base for MCM Operations, to being ready to support the international effort to construct a temporary pier to expand the flow of aid to Gaza via a sea route,” said Commanding Officer, Captain Simon Herbert RFA. “Over the past few days, we have embarked personnel from the U.S. Army and Navy as well as UK specialist teams to facilitate the construction and operation of the pier, and to operate as a command and control platform.”

The Royal Navy reports the ship will provide accommodation for hundreds of U.S. sailors and soldiers working to establish the pier in Gaza. Specialist British military planning teams were reported to have been embedded with the U.S. operational HQ in Tampa, Florida, as well as in Cyprus to jointly develop the maritime route. The UK Hydrographic Office has also shared an analysis of the Gazan shore with U.S. planners to develop the pier.

UK Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said it is critical to establish more routes for humanitarian aid and that the UK would continue to contribute. He highlights that the UK increased its humanitarian funding and in recent weeks the Royal Air Force has conducted nine airdrops along the coastline of Gaza. Yesterday, the RAF delivered more than 85 tonnes of food supplies, including water and flour.

U.S. ships and personnel have already begun construction of the temporary floating pier as part of ongoing work to significantly expand the delivery of lifesaving aid into Gaza. Earlier this week it was reported that the efforts onshore had come under mortar fire from Palestinian militants.

The pier will initially facilitate the delivery of 90 truckloads of international aid into Gaza and scale to up to 150 truckloads once fully operational, according to U.S. estimates. Critics however point out that international aid workers have called for a volume of 500 truckers per day.