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SECURITY TIGHT, BUT NAVY SAILED AWAY HAPPY

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June 12, 2001 – By all reports the recent visit by the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt was a great success.
There were, unfortunately, two armed robberies on Sunday, but no one was injured.
Attorney General Iver Stridiron said Monday, he was very pleased, though he hadn't heard about the robberies.
"I have to commend the Police Department," who worked around the clock to protect the 5,000 plus Navy sailors who took shore leave over the weekend.
He said all law enforcement personnel from all agencies, including his department, were deployed to help with security.
Jim Lovell, president of the Navy League on St. Thomas, said the Navy's top brass was pleased, too. Extra shore patrol were on duty round the clock, along with local law enforcement, he said.
Security on U.S. Navy ships worldwide has been dramatically increased since the terrorist bombing of the USS Cole in October, 2000, which killed 17 American soldiers.
Lovell said at least nine ships had anchored off since the Cole incident, but this trip was even tighter, perhaps due to the proximity with Vieques – where a feud continues between the inhabitants and the Navy.
The Navy League used to be able to take up to 300 guests aboard ships and public tours were run constantly when ships were in port. On this trip, Lovell said, "They cut us down to 150 (guests)."
Lovell also said the presence of "armed sentinels" on board was also notable.
On the deck of the Roosevelt, "every 50 yards there was an armed guard."
Also on the deck, Lovell said is the F-14 that Tom Cruise flew in the movie "Top Gun."
Others who routinely work with the ships when they're in port said the whole visit had been kept quiet.
All of the vessels servicing the ship were searched thoroughly before being allowed to go near the ship, and the names of any persons who were aboard the vessels were provided in advance, along with names of residents who could vouch for the vendors and their personnel.
The Navy also set up two parameters around the ship – the first which was a warning zone if vessels got too close and the second which would draw an armed patrol and a boarding of any vessel that went beyond the first parameter.
Lovell said this was very different from the way it used to be, when local vessels could "cruise" all around the ships
Lovell said one top Navy official told him, "We were hoping nothing would happen," or they (the Navy) would be gone – not to return.
But, Lovell said, "They were thrilled, " and made "glowing comments" about Territorial Chief of Police José Garcia.

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