The nuclear powered aircraft carrier George Washington sailed out of Palma yesterday followed by an anti-nuclear flotilla of yachts and boats. More than 50 boats followed the protest call issued by Greenpeace yesterday. As the Washington left port there were plenty of rumours indicating that it had brought forward its departure by 24 hours and was heading for Tarragona where it would be assured a warm welcome. But these were denied last night by U.S. Consular Agent Tumi Bestard. The vessel left on time as expected and is heading home. The crew have enjoyed their stay in Palma. Various local politicians including Eberhard Grosske, the local minister for Employment and Manolo Camara, Senator for the Balearics, joined the protest fleet yesterday. Greenpeace claimed that their actions had been successful. The aim of our protest was not for the aircraft carrier to leave the port, it was to re-open the nuclear debate. Greenpeace's role for the last 30 years has been to organise protest actions which result in greater public debate, of important local issues, said Greenpeace President Xavier Pastor. Leading the protest flotilla yesterday was the sailing boat Zorba which on Tuesday had been involved in the initial protest against the George Washington. Pastor reiterated his earlier statement in which he said that they were not against the U.S. Navy only nuclear armed or powered ships. Greenpeace maintains that the Washington being in Palma was a threat to the civil population, an allegation which the local authorities deny. Greenpeace's next target will be the Royal Navy submarine Tireless currently moored at Gibraltar where she is undergoing repair after a fault on her nuclear reactor. The submarine, which broke down in the Mediterranean last May, is expected to leave Gibraltar in May, once the repair work has been completed. But the Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar has said that he would like to see the Tireless go home as soon as possible. There has been plenty of protest actions against the submarine across the border in Spain while the actual Gibraltarians are concerned at her presence in their port.
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