March 27, 2006

Nomination of ex-Dubai Ports official withdrawn

By John Crawley

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House on Monday withdrew
the nomination of a former Dubai Ports World executive to
direct U.S. maritime affairs after his appointment was blocked
in the Senate during a political storm over port security.

David Sanborn requested the Bush administration withdraw
his name from consideration, according to a copy of a letter he
sent to U.S. President George W. Bush.

"While I believe my background makes me one of the most
qualified people there is for this position, the convergence of
a number of factors bring me to the conclusion that I cannot
effectively serve my country, you, and the U.S. maritime
industry," Sanborn wrote.

He was appointed in January but his nomination was slowed
in the Senate in February and early March as Republican and
Democratic lawmakers revolted over DP World plans to manage six
U.S. ports, including New York, as part of its purchase of a
rival company.

Lawmakers worried about the potential security implications
of an Arab-based firm managing critical infrastructure
criticized Bush administration approval of the deal. DP World
is owned by the United Arab Emirates government.

Congress was unmoved by administration assurances and
statements by some maritime experts that the deal had been
vetted properly and that their concerns were overblown.
Lawmakers did not back down when the company agreed to another
U.S. government review of the purchase, including the
proposal's security elements.

DP World ended the recent controversy by agreeing to divest
the U.S. component of its deal with London-based Peninsular and
Oriental Steam Navigation Co.

Sanborn is a graduate of the Merchant Marine Academy, a
naval veteran, and his depth of global shipping experience was
noted enthusiastically by Senate lawmakers at his confirmation

Sanborn was a senior executive with DP World in Latin
America. But Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson said in late
February he was concerned about any potential conflict of
interest with the then-pending DP World sale and wanted more
information before clearing Sanborn for a vote.

The Maritime Administration, a division of the U.S.
Transportation Department, tracks shipping, runs the Merchant
Marine Academy and helps the military find ships for cargo use.