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US expand military port in Bahrain 8, June 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Bahrain.
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The ever-reliable MEED reports on the US acquisition of extra port space in Bahrain. Despite having their largest American military port outside the US already in Bahrain, the US clearly feel that they need more capacity and have thus bought up a former container port to convert to military use. Bahrain authorities will be pleased to hear this. Not only do they have to think (worry) about a potentially hostile Iran but relations with their disenfranchise Shia majority is getting increasing fractious leading to, as you can see, riots:

The MEED report, quoted at length below, also list some interesting facts about the US in Bahrain.

The 5th Fleet has some 3,500 personnel and 16 vessels based in Bahrain, while the total fleet numbers 25,000 sailors and marines, and close to 40 ships. The vacant facilities at Mina Salman will provide the navy with 15 extra berths, cargo and container facilities.The current lease agreement at the site sees the navy pay the Bahrain government $6.7m a year for use of its current 265,000 sq m of space in Bahrain, including harbour patrol space and berthing at Mina Salman, and aviation unit space at Bahrain International airport. The US will pay an additional $2.9m a year for the extra waterfront space.

“The navy’s lease agreement is renewed on a yearly basis, with an indefinite number of renewal terms,” says the spokeswoman.

The US is also seeking permission to build a flyover bridge linking its base close to Mina Salman with the port itself, to improve security for US personnel.

Had the agreement not gone ahead, other ventures for the site had been proposed. “If the base had not been there I think Mina Salman would have been converted into a tourist terminal but with the fleet next door that wasn’t really viable,” says a ports official in Bahrain.

Bahrain’s new commercial facility, Khalifa Bin Salman Port, received its first ships in April and is operated by the Dutch group APM Terminals.

The site has initial container capacity for 1 million 20-foot equivalent units.


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