Wednesday, November 25, 2015   

UnLaden sailors tell no tales

Elizabeth Law

Monday, May 23, 2011

Sailors aboard the USS Carl Vinson said they only found out from the news that Osama bin Laden was buried at sea from their ship.

Crew of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, which arrived in Hong Kong yesterday, claimed to be unaware of any special operation against the al-Qaeda leader until it was all over.

However they declined to discuss the issue in detail.

Commander of carrier strike group 1 Rear Admiral Samuel Perez would discuss neither bin Laden nor morale among sailors since his death.

"But as you expect, coming into Hong Kong their morale is very high."

For most on the carrier, May 1 - the day bin Laden was shot dead in Pakistan by US Navy SEALS - meant the usual tour of duty in the north Arabian Sea.

"I was probably patching someone's teeth," said dentist Lieutenant Chang.

She found out about the burial only after logging onto her computer and seeing the news.

Engineer Lawrence Mayer went about his day as usual and was unaware of the death until he saw the news on CNN that night.

"My jaw dropped," he said. "It was a great shock."

The carrier, which arrived from the Philippines, is accompanied by three other warships - the USS Gridley, the USS Bunker Hill and the USS Shiloh.

More than 7,000 sailors are expected to enjoy shore leave. Despite fears of terrorist attacks, Perez is "confident of the ability of the Hong Kong police."

He added: "The protection measures that we take here are the normal ones that we take with all liberty port

The danger of a terrorist attack may remain "moderate" but security has been beefed up.

Marine police patrol boats escorted the 95,000-tonne carrier to an anchorage east of Lantau Island.

With 61 fighter jets on board, the vessel is the length of nearly three football fields and is too big to enter Victoria Harbour. Additional speedboat patrols are being deployed off Lantau.

Boats without prior approval will be warned to turn back 200 meters from the vessel.

Divers from the marine police checked the waters off Fenwick Pier in Wan Chai, where sailors will disembark from water taxis.

Extra police are out in the bar areas of Wan Chai and Lan Kwai Fong.

The USS Carl Vinson will leave for her home port of San Diego on Wednesday.

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