From the e-mails:
Your show today concerning the port management was great. I’ve been to a port in the UAE and have a few thoughts… I’m a retired Naval officer still going to sea as a civilian. For the last five years I’ve worked aboard US government ships carrying US Army cargo back and forth to Kuwait. I’ve sailed as Third Mate, Second Mate, Chief Mate, and as Master. We routinely stopped in Fujairah, UAE, the first port on your right as you leave the Strait of Hormuz. It is a bunker (refuel) and provisioning stop. The port itself is very small, just a breakwater with room inside for a few container ships. But, outside the breakwater, a hundred ships are routinely at anchor. They are mostly tankers, and I’m not sure just what they are doing there. The USN has a presense in Fujairah who would coordinate our arrivals and departures. Two small boats with a crew of three and a fifty cal would escort us in, stay with us for the duration, and escort us out to sea. We would stay out at the anchorage where smaller ships would moor alongside to pump us fuel. The UAE has allowed us to keep an armed presense in their port. We would also transfer our embarked security personnel on and off in Fujairah. These personnel moved their guns and ammo through Fujairah to other places within CENTCOM. I have seen other USN ships and Japanese Naval ships there bunkering as well. I can’t imagine how CENTCOM would handle bunkering ships in their AOR without the UAE. The only other place I’ve bunkered in that part of the world was Crete in the Med and in South Africa. We didn’t deal with Dubai Ports World, so I can’t comment on that company. I did have a good experience with a ship chandler in the UAE who went the extra mile (check that, extra three miles) to help us with a few parts we needed. My experience over there is that the Arabs hire others to do the work. The ship’s agent in Kuwait is from India. I suspect that Dubai Ports World routinely hires local talent to do the work. From time to time I go down to the port in LA and Long Beach. When I get to the gate, yes, there is a guard there. I tell him where I’m going, and he signs me in and waves me through. (There doesn’t seem to be a system in place to validate that I am authorized on that given day to be in that particular place.) Our system isn’t exactly air-tight today. I offer this to help round out your picture of the UAE.