First proper visit from the sixth fleet this year amidst tight securityGulf War veteran USS San Jacinto sailed into Palma yesterday amidst extremely tight security. The highly sophisticated Ticonderoga Class attack cruiser and its crew will spend Christmas in Majorca surrounded by unprecedented security measures following reports that NATO forces ships in the Mediterranean could be potential terrorist targets and the United States' requirements that ports used by the US navy tighten up security. In accordance with US navy demands, a Guardia Civil maritime unit will patrol the Bay of Palma for the duration of the ship's visit and a special anti-terrorist unit will be in charge of port security, with watches posted at strategic points in the Dique del Oeste, while the US navy will take care of implementing maximum security and armed guards on board. The destination of the USS San Jacinto is top secret, but she is armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles, with a maximum range of 2.500 kilometres, which she fired during the Gulf War and will be used in any attack on Iraq by the United States in the New Year. The USS San Jacinto is a large combat vessel with multiple target response capacity. The U.S. Navy's guided missile cruisers perform primarily in a Battle Force role and are capable of supporting carrier battle groups and amphibious forces. The USS San Jacinto is also armed with Harpoon anti-submarine missile launchers, six torpedo tubes, two 127mm guns as well as landing facilities for Seahawk submarine warfare helicopters. The 358 crew and 24 officers are the first members of the US Sixth Fleet to have visited Palma this year. Last month the USS Laboon, a destroyer fully equipped for nuclear, biological and chemical warfare decided against mooring up in Palma and dropped anchor for her short visit of just a few hours in the Bay of Palma, apparently for security reasons. However, Palma's alleged faliure to meet US navy security requirements has been denied by the President of the Balearic Port Authority, Francesc Triay. Triay said yesterday that the USS San Jacinto's decision to spend Christmas in Palma proves that security meets the United States' State Department's demands.
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