Good-natured chaos as `JFK' arrives in Dublin

THE arrival of the US aircraft carrier, the USS John F Kennedy, in Dublin Bay somewhat discommoded the nude gentlemen bathers…

THE arrival of the US aircraft carrier, the USS John F Kennedy, in Dublin Bay somewhat discommoded the nude gentlemen bathers of the Forty Foot.

The ship hove into view with a fanfare of jets roaring over Glasthule and Sandycove yesterday morning, and brought a horde of unwanted sightseers with binoculars, cameras and camcorders.

The uninvited visitors gleefully snapped views of the gentlemen's hare backsides against the back drop of the world's most powerful war machine.

The visitors saturated the area during the day, jamming the narrow roads between Dun Laoghaire and Dalkey. The chaos spilled over into Dun Laoghaire Harbour as rented ferries and pleasure boats carried thousands of people to the ship's anchorage, about a mile off the Forty Foot.


It was, on the sea front at least, good natured chaos. Even the first group of about 500 people mildly accepted the three hour wait for the ferry to the carrier.

On hoard, an assortment of media people were treated to "opportunities" of stunning banality.

The centre of interest appeared to be the fact that the ship and its crew of 5,000 had transported a second hand ambulance from a town in Florida to Wicklow as part of a goodwill twinning exercise.

The left hand drive ambulance with 79,000 miles on the clock was displayed on one of the hangar elevators that normally transport warplanes. It was presented to Wicklow councillors during a ceremony which went largely unnoticed in the ship's cavernous interior.

Any journalistic inquiry about the role of the ship's warplanes in actions such as the war with Iraq and the attacks on Tripoli in 1986 were patted down with the answer that. "We are for democracy."

At one point, a Dublin journalist desperate for quotes found himself interviewing one of the ship's dentists, eventually asking if life at sea presented any particular problems from a dental perspective.

Reporters scuttled around the hangar asking the crew members if they had any Irish connections.

The ship's crew were polite in the extreme, accommodating add informative about their skills. The visitors thrilled to the rides up and down in the huge aircraft elevators.

They roamed at will through the ship's interior, blocking miles of steel corridors. The crew remained polite if somewhat stressed, repeating the mantra. "Excuse me, sir, excuse me, sir, excuse me ma'am." The visitors left happy and, to the relief of the hard pressed crew, none fell overboard.

As evening drew in, the harbour, which is also hosting a fun fair on its East Pier, became besieged. The weather held and the JFK lit up like a fairground against a perfect sunset over Dublin Bay.

It was, as one of the residents pointedly remarked, as if Dun Laoghaire had returned to its Kingstown days, except it was the Americans instead of the British this time.