100,000 tons of U.S. firepower too big to dock at Portsmouth: Aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt anchors off Hampshire coast after arriving into UK for five-day visit
Mon, 23 March 2015
She weighs in at an impressive 100,000 tons and is longer than The Shard is tall.
And today the mammoth USS Theodore Roosevelt was anchored just off the coast of Hampshire because she was simply 'too big' to sail into the Royal Navy's historic Portsmouth dockyard.
Thousands of stunned spectators jammed roads and lined the banks of the River Solent to welcome the 1,092ft-long floating city as it arrived for a five-day visit to the UK on the first stop of a global deployment.
While a debate rages in the UK over the Government's failure to commit to the Nato target of spending two per cent of GPD on defence, the Roosevelt is a potent symbol of American military might.
With 90 aircraft on board, the ship can operate for up to 25 years at over unlimited distances, projecting US air power around the globe.
She can go three months without resupply and her two giant nuclear reactor generate enough power for a small city.
One social media user wrote: 'Most ships get measures in metres, this one comes in acres!'
Another joked in reference to recent increased tensions between the West and Russia: 'Wonder if any Russian bombers will fly up the Channel this week?'
Brian and Jacqui Rodgers, who travelled from Dorset to see the 30-year-old carrier arrive at Stokes Bay, said they were 'very impressed' by the ship.
Mr Rodgers told The News local paper: 'It's a slumbering giant. I guess it's one of the biggest carriers in the world.
'It's a bit like watching a floating town arrive off the coast.'
Mrs Rodgers added: 'It's massive. When you see a sailing boat by go by the side of it you realise how huge it is.'
And with more than 5,000 American sailors due to disembark from the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier for shore leave while it is moored in Stokes Bay, Gosport, the local economy is set for an estimated £1.5million boost.
The city's bars, clubs, restaurants and visitor attractions are bracing themselves for a massive footfall when the sailors hit dry land during their ship's five-day visit.
Nightclub Tiger Tiger located on the banks of Portsmouth Harbour is opening its doors at 9am during the week to put on English breakfasts.
The mighty ship, which is making its first port of call during a round-the-world deployment, is much larger than the Royal Navy's next generation of carriers, The Prince of Wales and Queen Elizabeth, which weigh in at 65,000 tonnes when they finally become operational.
Among Roosevelt's crew are six Royal Navy aircraft handlers who are honing their skills before serving aboard the new Royal Navy carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, which enters service in 2017.
The carrier's escort ship, the guided missile destroyer Winston S Churchill, was able to dock at Portsmouth.
She traditionally carries a UK navigator to honour the ship's British connection with the post currently held by 27-year-old Lieutenant Lynsey Sewell.
Welcoming the U.S. ship, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said last night: 'The USS Theodore Roosevelt's visit shows yet again that UK/US relations are as close as ever. Ten days ago, I was the first of his counterparts to meet incoming Defence Secretary Ash Carter.
'Having the Roosevelt in Portsmouth today is yet another example of the world's broadest, deepest and most enduring defence relationship at work. I'm thrilled to be going aboard today to welcome the crew personally.'
The Royal Navy's First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir George Zambellas, added: 'It is excellent to see US Navy carrier steel in Portsmouth. And in barely two years we will see UK carrier steel here too.
'We warmly welcome the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group - a reflection of the close partnership between our nations and navies, and the value of credible seapower in support of our shared national interests.'
Senior officers aboard the American ship will visit Royal Navy officials to discuss recent global operations and get an update on the UK's carrier programme.
Donna Jones, leader of Portsmouth council, said: 'This is great news for Portsmouth because it means money spent in local businesses, restaurants, cafes and shops, as well as strengthening the ties between the British and American Navy.'
Named after Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States.
Her radio call sign is Rough Rider, the name of President Roosevelt's volunteer cavalry unit.
Nicknamed the 'Big Stick' after President Roosevelt's famous quote on American foreign policy: 'speak softly, and carry a big stick.'
Last major deployment was in 2002, when she spent 159 consecutive days at sea - breaking the record for the longest period underway since World War I.
She is now on her way to the Middle East where she is expected to take part in airstrikes against the Islamic State.
Her length of 1,092ft is equivalent to 30 London buses.
She displaces approximately 100,000 tons of water at full load.
Her desalination plant makes 400,000 gallons of fresh water from the sea ever day – enough for 2,000 homes.
She carried 1,600 miles of cable and wiring, with 30,000 light fixtures and 1,400 telephones.
Her crew of more than 5,600 includes 3,200 sailors and 2,480 airmen.
She is armed with two $165,400 (£110,498) 'sea sparrow' missiles, capable of hitting targets 10 miles away.
Holds 3.3 million gallons of aviation fuel.
Top speed of 30+ knots (35+mph).