Chennai: July 02, 2007 (Monday) – Despite protests by the opposition, political parties, including the Left and environmentalists, the US aircraft carrier USS Nimitz, the world’s largest nuclear powered aircraft carrier, has docked two miles off from here at 6 A.M. today.
The Left political party and the environmentalists expressed their concerns over radiation from the ship powered by two nuclear plants, which they also believe that the ship might be carrying nuclear weapons, not denied by the Captain of the ship.
They will hold a demonstration outside the port today evening. Former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and AIADMK Chief Jayalalithaa has also opposed the visit by the ship.
The Nimitz has been at the centre of storm in India; particularly with the Left expressing concern about radiation since the Nimitz is nuclear powered and can carry nuclear weapons.
Factfile: USS Nimitz
However, the fact that the Nimitz uses nuclear power means that the ship can store almost twice as much aviation fuel as the largest conventional carrier.
And also, it can keep 50 per cent more ammunition including nuclear weapons if ordered to by the US administration making it quite literally the strongest arm of US foreign policy.
In fact, the ship’s commanders pride themselves on being combat ready and lethal always.
”The US naval culture is one where we are expected to be always ready to destroy,” said Admiral John Terence Blake, Commander, Nimitz Strike Group 11.
So it is hardly a surprise that the Nimitz’s arrivals in Indian waters brings with it some strong opposition particularly from the Left who say allowing a nuclear weapons capable US ship to make a historic port of call visit is another sign of India’s weakness.