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THE American destroyer USS Gonzalez sailed into the port of Palma yesterday amid a high security alert. She will be in port until Friday.
The Guardia Civil has fenced off access to the docks and a launch patrols the area. Visits by Sixth Fleet ships are unpopular and generally lead to demonstrations outside the US Consular Agency office. It is some time since Palma has been visited by a Sixth Fleet ship, due to various factors, including a reduction of the number of ships in the Mediterranean and a greater presence in the Persian Gulf, preference for the port of Tarragona on the Peninsula, and the port congestion in Palma during high season. The Pentagon's demands in anti-terrorist security, with a high alert around the ships, has made their visit to civilian installations difficult.
But despite the difficulties, the Port Authorities has ceded the use of the new terminal at the Dique del Oeste, and this was finally accepted. The USS González belongs to the Arleigh Burke class, one of which, the USS Cole, was subject to a terrorist attack in Aden (Yemen). The ships are the most modern destroyers used by the American Navy and their weaponry includes Tomahawk missiles, which can reach a pre-selected target 2'500 kilometres away and were used during the Iraq war. These missiles travel at a speed of 9.7 Mach, at a height of between 15 and 100 metres, and can carry a nuclear load of 100 kilotons.
The USS González has a crew of 303 and NBQ protection (for nuclear, biological and chemical warfare).
She also has the Aegis system designed to intercept multiple aerial targets simultaneously,and she has a speed of more than 30 knots.