American warship drops by

ARRIVAL USS Monterey slips in to Portsmouth Harbour on a misty morning escorted by tugs.    Picture Paul Morgan
ARRIVAL USS Monterey slips in to Portsmouth Harbour on a misty morning escorted by tugs. Picture Paul Morgan
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USS Monterey emerged from the early morning mist on her way into Portsmouth Naval Base yesterday.

The American warship is visiting Portsmouth this week as part of a European deployment that will see the US develop plans for a missile shield to protect against a potential nuclear threat from Iran.

The Monterey is a guided missile cruiser equipped with a sophisticated Aegis radar system capable of firing short and medium range missiles.

Sending the Virginia-based warship to Europe is the first part of a four-phase plan to create a missile shield for the continent. It was developed by the Obama administration in 2009 and approved by Nato in November.

The plan calls for the placing of land and sea-based radars and interceptors in several European locations over the next decade in order to build a protective shield.

The project has drawn opposition from Russia, which worries the system could target Russian warheads or undermine their nuclear deterrence.