Two dinghies and a support ship stopped the world's most powerful warship from anchoring in the Bay of Palma yesterday. For more than eight hours the George Washington and Guardia Civil launches were forced to fend off attacks from a spirited Greenpeace protest. At one stage the Guardia Civil fired a larger form of rubber bullets at the protesters while a U.S. Navy helicopter circled overhead. The Greenpeace protesters played cat and mouse with the carrier so that it was unable to moor-up. As the sea-battle between the U.S. Navy and the eco warriors was taking place in the Bay the leader of the Balearic government Francesc Antich called for the George Washington to leave Balearic waters. You are not wanted here, Antich said, adding that he had written a letter to the Prime Minister, Jose Maria Aznar demanding that the nuclear powered aircraft carrier be barred from Spanish waters. The object of our protest today was to stop the carrier from mooring so that the issue could be openly debated. In this we have been successful, he said. The George Washington a Nimitz class aircraft carrier with a crew of 5'000 was anchored well off Palma last night. The carrier is due to leave port on Thursday. Greenpeace said that the Washington had two nuclear reactors double the size of the Royal Navy's Tireless which is controversially being repaired in Gibraltar, amid massive security and safety fears. The local government said last night that they had not been informed of the aircraft carrier's visit to Palma and said they would be organising a series of actions within the local parliament calling for the end of visits by nuclear warships. The George Washington had come to Palma at the end of its Mediterranean deployment. Her armament centres around her air group of around 85 aircraft which include the Tomcat F-14 jet fighters which had a starring role in the box-office hit Top Gun.
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