Monday, February 05, 2007

Perspective: Rebuilding Iraq's Navy, one sailor at a time

An Iraqi Navy aluminium fast boat patrols in the Um Qasr Waterway

Khawr Al Amaya Oil Terminal, Persian Gulf — Every morning on this aging metal hulk, an Iraqi naval officer reads the weather report over the radio so it can be heard by dozens of civilian boats.

It's a job that used to be done by an American sailor.

Here and elsewhere in the Persian Gulf off Iraq's shores, Iraqis are gradually taking over jobs once done by U.S. Marines and sailors. They stand guard on terminals such as this one, which is often compared to the bizarre structures of the movie "Waterworld."

At the port of Umm al Qasr, Iraqis are lectured by U.S. Navy and Coast Guard personnel and British Royal Navy sailors on the techniques of boarding ships, quizzing often hostile crews and searching for contraband and weapons. Some Iraqi sailors participate in inspections with U.S., British and Australian sailors.

It is a slow process for a nation whose navy was destroyed in the early hours of the 2003 assault led by the United States.

Read the rest at the LA Times