Hello folks, My apologies for not posting for the longest time since I've been out here. I am still on the USNS Mount Baker, and we've finished our deployment. We came through the Suez Canal in late February and now we're in the Atlantic speeding our way home at about 20 knots. The ship's homeport is in New Jersey and I will do my best to come back to all my favorite blogs then. A word of interesting note, I have no idea what other people are writing about the Port deal that for some reason people seem to think that they SHOULD have an opinion on. I don't care one way or another. Having been to Dubai, UAE I can say that people's fears about security are uncalled for. For one, there seems to be a disproportionate amount of Indians in UAE than Arabs. UAE is sort of like America in that there are a lot of immigrants trying to find a decent day's wage. In fact, almost every single one of my cab drivers was from India.
Now, on to Port Security. I've only been to the port of Jebel Ali (which is about an hour and a half drive from Dubai), which is where the USNS Mount Baker tied up every time she went in, and I can say that the security isn't any different there than at other ports. The ports in question (if I'm not mistaken) are currently owned by a British Company, and we know THEIR history and tolerance of radical muslims.
All other comments aside, I can say that UAE is a close ally of the US currently and we can't do much to jeapordize that. We need all the help we can get if we are going to win over hearts and minds of the arab people (which is really the only way we can win the "great war on terror"). Either way, shipping is still controlled and watched over by the US Coast Guard (who issued me my license to sail as 3rd Engineer), and it is their job to handle security. I say let THEM handle security problems and let the U.S. public (who don't really know anything about shipping and the entire industry that goes along with it) get their noses out of this current deal. I told you before, I don't have any strong opinions one way or another on the deal. I'm just saying that neither should you.
Henry Scharf, Civilian
3rd Assistant Engineer
USNS Mount Baker (T-AE 34)