Bumper crowds greet floating fortress USS Theodore Roosevelt

USS Theodore Roosevelt
USS Theodore Roosevelt

Bumper crowds, including many people from West Sussex, turned out to see the impressive floating fortress which thousands of US Navy sailors call home.

And all those on board USS Theodore Roosevelt were given a warm welcome to Portsmouth as the gargantuan vessel, nicknamed the ‘Big Stick’, dropped anchor in Stokes Bay yesterday (Sunday March 22).

Hundreds of onlookers cheered as the carrier pulled into the bay in the afternoon.

Earlier, the ship stunned onlookers on Southsea seafront as she dwarfed the Victorian-era Solent Forts while sailing through.

The ship is crewed by more than 5,000 sailors, many of whom will be seen around Portsmouth’s restaurants, bars and shops as they take ‘liberty’ breaks onshore in coming days.

The Nimitz-class carrier last visited Portsmouth in 2009, just before a four-year overhaul which has transformed her into the US fleet’s most technologically-advanced carrier.

She carries 90 aircraft and is powered by two nuclear reactors.

The ship’s commanding officer, Captain Daniel Grieco, said he was ‘very excited’ to have arrived in British waters. He said: ‘This port visit is a great opportunity for the sailors of Theodore Roosevelt to meet the people of Portsmouth and experience the history and rich culture of the United Kingdom.

‘Port visits like this give us a chance to work with our allies, improve interoperability and strengthen friendships as our countries work together to make Europe and the world a safer


Crew member Will Trogdon of Bristol, Tennessee, said he was looking forward to going


‘Portsmouth’s a lot of fun,’ he said.

‘I’ve been there a few times and I have family near London. It’s never a disappointment.’

Defence secretary Michael Fallon said the ship’s visit proved the British-American ‘special relationship’ was closer than ever.

Mr Fallon yesterday went aboard the carrier to personally greet the crew.

He said: ‘Having the Roosevelt in Portsmouth is yet another example of the world’s broadest, deepest and most enduring defence relationship at work.’

The carrier is here for a five-day visit as part of a round-the-world deployment.

She is accompanied by the guided-missile USS Winston S Churchill, which has berthed in Portsmouth Harbour. The carrier, which is more than 1,000ft long, is too big to fit inside the harbour entrance.