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Army Engineers, Iraqis rebuild Umm Qasr Port

By Suzanne M. Fournier

BASE CAMP ADDER, Iraq (Army News Service, Dec. 21, 2005) – With help from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Iraqi seaport of Umm Qasr is closing in on final certification to become fully operational as an international transfer point for shipping goods.

For Iraq to be a competitor in the global market place, the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code certification is necessary. Certification requires port facilities to have security assessments, security plans, trained security staffs, security drills, coast guardsmen, and communication links to ships.

A coast guard forward operating base, security operation center, electrical upgrades, and perimeter security fencing at Iraq’s main seaport of Umm Qasr are some of the vital construction projects that will benefit the future of international trade with Iraq.

Across the waterway from Umm Qasr Port, lines of cranes loom over the docks as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers construct an Iraqi coast guard forward operating base. With the help of dozens of local Iraqi construction workers the coast guard base construction is moving the seaport closer to ISPS certification.

Engineers build security measures

U.S. Army engineers are systematically building the port’s security management components by constructing a perimeter chain-link fence, secured points of entry, perimeter access roads and lighting, telecommunication conduits, observation posts, and truck staging areas. These security upgrades are essential security structures in order for Umm Qasr Port to maintain and operate a secure port facility. The perimeter fencing will also connect the previously separated North and South Ports for greater efficiency and security.

The security projects at Umm Qasr Port are constructed with funds from the Iraqi Reconstruction and Relief Fund under management of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Reconstruction projects continue to help Iraq to be self-sustaining.

Final ISPS certification of Umm Qasr will encourage foreign trade, increase local employment, and generate revenue to invest in Iraq’s economic prosperity.

(Editor’s note; Suzanne M. Fournier serves with the Gulf Region Southern District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.)

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