August 15th 2018

MM&P members aboard the MV MOKU PAHU have embarked on a relief mission to Yemen, where millions of people are on the verge of starvation.

The MOKU PAHU, operated by Patriot Contract Services, is one of several ships traveling to the war-ravaged country with cargoes of wheat grown by farmers in the Pacific Northwest.

It took on its first load in Portland last weekend in an operation financed under the Food for Peace Program that received extensive media coverage.

“This is an all-American crew,” reported Pat Dooris of local TV station KGW8.

“The captain says it will take 40 days to reach the war-torn area, and while it won’t be easy, they are prepared.”

“We make sure that the delivery goes through, we come back, and we get another one,” said MOKU PAHU Master Stephen Austin.

“As we approach the area, we will take on a security team. They are very professional. They do this year ‘round. We don’t expect any problems.”

The other MM&P members aboard the vessel are Christian Johnsen, Anthony Atthowe, Madeleine Wolczko and Alexander Holbrook-Diaz.

The civil war in Yemen broke out in late 2014 after a rebel group, the Houthis, seized control of the capital and ousted the government.

The conflict has intensified since the intervention on the government’s side of a Saudi Arabia-led military coalition backed by the United States.

Fighting has gripped cities as the violence, along with a blockade imposed by the U.S.-backed coalition, starved the country of imports of food, medicine and fuel.

The latest battles have focused around Hodeidah, a port city on the west coast controlled by the Houthis.

The port is the main entry point for food and aid supplies to Houthi-controlled areas.

Relief agencies have warned that prolonged fighting there would be catastrophic for the more than 8 million Yemenis–a third of the population–already on the brink of famine, as well as hundreds of thousands of people who live in the city.

According to the journalists who covered the loading operation on the Willamette River, the shipments of wheat carried by U.S.-flag ships will be enough to feed about 7.5 million people for two months.