PORTSMOUTH is bracing itself for the arrival of up to 6,000 American sailors as the world’s newest and most powerful warship anchors in the Solent.
USS George H W Bush will drop anchor in Stokes Bay, Gosport, on Friday after taking part in the biggest training exercise hosted by the Royal Navy in recent years.
The 1,100ft supercarrier – with a ship’s company of more than 5,300 – will be joined by American destroyer USS Truxtun and the Spanish frigate ESPS Almirante Juan De Borbon – meaning almost 6,000 sailors and airmen will descend on the city until Tuesday.
Portsmouth bars and clubs are preparing for a bumper bank holiday weekend as the sailors let off steam.
Peter Emery, Gunwharf Quays centre manager, said: ‘US ships have come alongside here before, and what tends to happen is it provides a huge boost to everything from retail to food and beverages. Last time they came we had been drunk completely dry of Budweiser within a couple of days, so we are bearing that in mind.
‘But in general the Americans are incredibly well behaved and act like absolute gentlemen.’
Southsea seafront manager David Evans said: ‘The cafes, pubs and bars will obviously benefit, but they might also take this opportunity to visit the D-Day and Royal Marines Museums. Obviously they could travel up to London, but I’m sure many of them will take advantage of the opportunity to explore Portsmouth.’
A mammoth policing operation has been planned for the weekend, with the US Navy paying Hampshire Police to provide two extra sergeants and 12 extra police officers to patrol the streets. They will be joined by six senior US sailors.
While more senior ranking US sailors have been given extended shore leave and may head to London, many junior ranked sailors are set to hit Portsmouth as they will have to be back on board by 1am each morning.
The Bush – named after the US President who held office in 1989 to 1993 – is the largest US warship to stay over since USS Theodore Roosevelt stopped in Stokes Bay in 2009.
Police operations planner PC Alan Hockley said: ‘In 2009 [the operation] went fine.
‘We had no issues, no problems. They were very well behaved when they were ashore.’