A ring of steel has been placed around the nuclear powered aircraft carrer, Theodore Roosevelt, moored in the Bay of Palma.
Guardia Civil launches and patrol boats, drafted in from the mainland, ensure that an exlusion zone is kept around the carrier, stretching for up to half a kilometre. Pleasure crafts which venture too close to the warship are strictly dealt with by the Guardia Civil. Also, the U.S. Navy has a number of guard boats on duty helping establish the security cordon. Specialist Guardia Civil divers are also on duty.
The local government has clearly underlined its support for the U.S. Navy with local interior minister, Jose Maria Rodriguez, saying that the U.S. Navy was more than welcome in the local port. Balearic leader Jaume Matas, echoed his words during a meeting with the Roosevelt's commanders. It is a far cry from the welcome the Roosevelt's sister ship, the George Washington received when she visited Palma about five years ago. She was met by a small flotilla of vessels protesting over her visit and former Balearic leader, Francesc Antich, stating that nuclear warships were not welcome in the Bay of Palma. For some time the U.S. Navy stayed away from Palma and went elsewhere on the mainland where they were assured of a warmer welcome. But all this appears to be changing, helped in part by the U.S. Consular Agent, Tumi Bestard, the U.S. Navy League and obviously the change in the Balearic government. Economically speaking the sight of a U.S. warship in the Bay is great news for the local economy and business community. The 6'000 crew of the Roosevelt will spend in excess of one million dollars during their stay in port with the bars and restaurants in Magalluf being exceptionally popular. After what has been a rather poor season for many, 6'000 U.S. tourists will be exceptionally welcome.
Obviously the Roosevelt has attracted plenty of attention in Majorca. She is one of the world's most powerful warships. At present parked on her decks there are enough planes and helicopters to equip a small air force. They include the F14 Tomcats made famous by the Hollywood film Top Gun. The U.S. Navy is the only maritime force to have Big flat-tops and they have a fleet of 15, of which more than half are nuclear powered, giving them an unlimited range. They are a key element in the Navy's striking power. The only other Navy to have a nuclear powered carrier is France, which has recently commissioned the Charles de Gaulle, which was the biggest warship to take part in the recent Trafalgar celebrations.
There is a school of thought which says that the days of the big carrier are long gone. They are far too big for the modern-day war on terrorism. However, Britain has recently signalled that it still believes in the big aircraft carriers. The Blair government, which has slashed defence spending, has announced that two 60'000 ton aircraft carriers will be built to replace the much smaller Invincible class. The Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales will be joining the Royal Navy in about five years time. They will be equipped with up to 60 U.S. designed aircraft.
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