April 7, 2003
SSA Marine sends team of port operations experts and engineers to begin work to reopen the port of Umm Qasr, Iraq, for humanitarian aid
SEATTLE-SSA Marine has sent the first team of civilian port operations experts to the Persian Gulf, to begin the process of returning the Iraqi port of Umm Qasr to regular shipping operation.
The team of 15 employees and contractors working for SSA Marine left the United States on Saturday, following security training at Ft. Benning, GA. They arrived in Kuwait City today (Monday), and will begin their assessment of the port on Tuesday, or as soon as permitted to do so by the military currently responsible for the port.
"Umm Qasr is Iraq's only seaport, the only deep-water access," explains Jon Hemingway, President of SSA Marine. "Before the war, a very large part of Iraq's food supply was imported through Umm Qasr, and we are committed to restoring that capacity as quickly as possible."
SSA Marine, the most experienced U.S. operator of port facilities around the world, was the successful bidder for a $4.8 million contract from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to cover the reopening and operation of the port for the first year. "For the cargo handling, we expect to rely heavily upon local labor. The best people to do those jobs are the Iraqi dock workers who were working there before the war," noted Hemingway.
Assessing the condition of the port, including its docks, cranes, warehouses and other facilities, is the company's first assignment. Its team will recommend to USAID any needed repairs and create an implementation plan for reopening the port.
Leading the SSA Marine project team at Umm Qasr is Fergus Moran a former ship officer who has worked for SSA Marine in Northern California, Bangladesh and India. Eight structural and civil engineers from Berger/ABAM Engineers, Federal Way, WA, are included in the team. The companies have worked together in Bangladesh, Panama and the U.S. At the Seattle headquarters of SSA Marine, Bob Watters, Vice President, is responsible for the engagement.