28-Nov-2005 -- Even before my visit to 31N 46E, I began making plans to visit this Confluence. There were several obstacles blocking the way. First, it is in the middle of a war zone. Second, it was in the British Zone, outside of our normal patrol areas. And third, it was in the water. Being in an Army unit, I had NO access to a boat. I did however, have a working relationship with the adjoining British units and began in July 2005 to pitch my plans to take a boat ride into the Umm Qaṣr harbor and waters beyond.
I first hit up Captain Burnham of the British Royal Marines, stationed at South Port, Umm Qaṣr. He was a reservist and a firefighter by trade. In our twice-weekly meetings, I would hit him up for a boat ride. We made plans to go to this confluence site on at least three occasions in July and August but, for various reasons, the plans fell through. Eventually, CPT Burnham returned to England and was replaced by CPT Nick D. I talked to him about the idea and he said that he would see what he could do. We tried again in late August and again in early September, but each time, our efforts failed. One time, there was a petrol shortage, one time an Iraqi naval boat was damaged causing all boat movements to be halted, and later, there was no boat pilot available on the boat we were looking to use for the trip.
I tried again in October four times, each time without success. Later, as I was preparing to return home, I met my replacement, Lieutenant Stephen B. During the several weeks that I began handing off my work to him, I told him of my plans to visit this site. He was also interested in visiting the confluence point. In November, we tried three more times to get a run out into the harbor with our British contacts. And finally on 24 November 2005, we got the green light that we would be going. We made our way to South Port, just to find that our boat was not available. We spent the day at the shooting range with the British Marines trying each other's weapons. We fired the AK-47, the M-4, the British Bullpup, the Beretta pistol, and the collapsible stock/short barreled SAW. I was disappointed that we could not make it to the point, but at least we had fun at the range.
Finally, on 28 November, following our weekly meeting, an opportunity arose wherein we could join a harbor patrol out of the port. LT Stephen B. and I walked with CPT Nick D. to the boat where we met up with Sergeant Major Michael B., Sergeant Sean Ch., and Corporal Martin St. We boarded the small boat at the northern end of Umm Qaṣr port and began heading south towards the mouth of the channel. We passed by the shipping docks and at the Kuwaiti/Iraqi border, we passed the United Nations warehouses and the Iraqi Naval base. Once we were clear of the port, we turned southeast following the Khawr al-Zubayr riverway that leads around the southwest side of al-Fāw peninsula. About 4 kilometers from the mouth of the harbor, we came upon several wrecks that had been sunk during the first Gulf War. I indicated to the Sergeant Major that we were only a few hundred meters away. I changed my handheld Garmin from Longitude/Latitude to MGRS and have him a 10 digit grid.
We came upon a shipwreck and began trying to determine exactly where the confluence point was. As we came near the port side of the ship, it seemed as though the point might actually be on the shipwreck. LT Stephen B. and I climbed off of our boat with the handheld to see exactly where the confluence point was and sure enough, it was on the port side of the ship, just left of the main smoke stack. As the port side of the ship was under water, we decided to try and put our small boat as close as we could over the point and shoot a copy of the boat's GPS that the Sergeant Major had now switched over to Longitude/Latitude.
We tried several times to get all zeroes on the GPS. While we were unable to zero it out, we were able to get very close. In the photo showing the GPS, you can see the bow of our boat lying over the port of the sunken ship, right where 30N 48E was lying. It was quite an experience, I was really happy to finally find it after so many failed attempts. And to think, who would have ever figured to find a confluence point on top of a shipwreck?