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Wednesday, May 22, 2019
USS Harry S Truman

On Monday 25 June 2018, the USS Harry S Truman (CVN-75) left the south of France in the direction of Norfolk, Virginia.

The Nimitz class aircraft carrier called at Marseilles for a scheduled port visit on her way from the Middle East to the United States. Deployed in the US 6th fleet area of responsibility as part of the Operation Inherent Resolve from the eastern Mediterranean sea, she conducted precision strikes on ISIS targets in Syria. The warship arrived on Thursday 21st and took her berth at Leon Gourret mole. After five days of representation, including a 350 guests, officials and crew members function, she prepared for leaving with her deck full of F18 Super Hornet jets.

The unberthing time was blurred for safety reasons, but it had been finally settled for 3.45pm. An hour earlier, a dozen US divers went inspecting the underside of those that would be involved in the move of the USS Truman, this included four Boluda’s tugs and at least three mooring service crafts.

Once authorised by US control, the small disparate fleet joined the berth 163. At 4pm, local pilot joined the tugs to set their tow lines which have been promptly done. Mooring service craft disembarked some ground staff and got ready to release the 330m long, 76m wide, 12m draught US vessel which is nicknamed HST Lone Warrior. Mistral 8 and 10 established their tow lines through head and aft central leads. In the meantime, both Mistral 9 and 7 were towed on the side and were called to push onto the grey hull.

The 88,000 tons displacement steel shell draw near the dock, thereby alongside the quay, boatmen could loosen the mooring lines. Despite Marseilles port being a restricted area prohibited for curious, rousing beholders from local companies, working inside the port went on piers and at the mouth of the harbour to admire this giant ship. The convoy gently moved back and immediately after reaching the turning basin, the tugs relieved from any obstruction managed to initiate a whirl on portside. Pulling thoroughly, the shudder tugs were throbbing from keel to deck and a profuse of mud emerged from the shallow waters.

Then correctly positioned for departure, the nuclear-propelled ship steered through the outer port. All along the operations, the scene had been covered by on-ground patrols and shepherded by small crafts from several French services such as the customs, gendarmerie or navy. Although it seems the HST Lone Warrior doesn’t really need extra protection with its Sea Sparrow Mk 57 Mod3, its RIM116 Rolling Airframe missile and Phalanx canons.

Thereby assisted, the military ship stepped out of the North Passage directly heading south, sailing along Marseilles’s shoreline on her starboard. Tugs were released, but USS Truman continued to be escorted by the remaining tugs Mistral 7 and 10 for a few miles. Eventually, they bent their course lightly to starboard in order to proceed to Fos. Those two went especially to assist the aircraft carrier in her France routine call and then sailed back to their home port. Located 25 nautical miles west, Fos is the major port of call in the area with its container, crude and LNG terminals.

LUCAS JOYEUX
Marseille, France

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