USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) has been granted permission to enter SA waters for ten days. She will anchor in Table Bay over the weekend. The “Big Stick” or “TR” as the ship is known in the US Navy and her escort group will next week conduct exercises with the SA Navy.
The Roosevelt`s visit is the first by a US aircraft carrier since the 1950s and the first to Cape Town by a nuclear-powered ship since the German cargo ship the Otto Hahn in the 1970s. British nuclear submarines have visited Simon`s Town in nearby False Bay.
The National Nuclear Regulator gave permission for the Roosevelt to drop anchor in Table Bay over objections environmental group Earthlife Africa. The ship is expected to arrive tomorrow.
The Roosevelt`s namesake was US President at the turn of the last century and visited Africa several times as a big game hunter. He later popularised the West African proverb that one should speak softly, but carry a big stick.
The US Navy currently operates 10 carrier strike groups and they have for decades indeed been the “big stick” of US foreign policy.
The wikipediais the fourth of ten Nimitz-class supercarriers. Her call sign is “Rough Rider”, the name of Roosevelt’s volunteer cavalry unit during the Spanish-American War of 1898. The ship`s own website adds that the ship`s company are also known as the Rough Riders. says the Roosevelt
She was launched on 27 October 1984 and saw her first action during Operation Desert Storm in 1991.
The Roosevelt left her homeport in Norfolk, Virginia, on the US East Coast early last month on a six month deployment.
Her escort includes the Aegis guided-missile cruiser USS Monterey (CG 61) the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers USS The Sullivans (DDG 68), USS Mason (DDG 87) and USS Nitze (DDG 94); as well as the nuclear attack submarine USS Springfield (SSN 761). The task group is supported by the fast combat support ship USNS Supply (T-AOE 3).
The Roosevelt`s crew of around 5000 is about equal in size to the entire SA Navy. Her air wing of 90 combat aircraft and helicopters also matches the SA Air Force in size, although not in combat power – where she is far superior: carrier Air Wing Eight includes four squadrons of F/A18 Hornet and Super Hornet fighter-bomber aircraft among other types.
The visit comes just two days after the American military activated their latest geographical military command, US Africa Command.