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Charlotte Amalie
Sunday, July 21, 2024


April 24, 2002 – Cash registers are jingling at bars, restaurants, and tour companies as thousands of U.S. Navy sailors stream ashore this week on port leave on St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John.
"They bring lots of revenue to the islands," Chad Beaty, manager at Woody's Seafood Saloon on St. John, said.
The ships arrived Monday and will depart Thursday. The 1,094-foot USS George Washington, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier with a crew of about 6,000, is visiting St. Thomas.
The 567-foot USS Normandy, a cruiser with a crew of 382, and the 505-foot USS Mahan, a destroyer with a crew of 341, are anchored off St. John.
The 592-foot USS Arthur W. Radford, a destroyer with a crew of 400, and the USS Kauffman, a frigate with a crew of 222, are anchored off Frederiksted on St. Croix.
Ships' personnel have been out and about on the streets of all three islands. Beaty said his bar was overflowing with sailors enjoying the regular Woody's afternoon happy hour. Some took in sunning and snorkeling at the beach. "Trunk Bay," said one sailor enjoying some time at Woody's as he named his favorite St. John beach.
He said he couldn't give his name for security reasons. The sailors also can't disclose where they've been and where they're going for the same reason.
"They're going to play cops and robbers at sea," said Coleen Combs of C&C Port Services, which handles the details when the Navy calls.
Earlier this month, some 23,000 military personnel including those aboard the George Washington and 10 other ships in its battle group took part in an intermediary training exercise off Puerto Rico and Vieques. "They are preparing for regularly scheduled deployment into the Mediterranean and the Middle East region," a Navy public information officer said at the time.
On St. Thomas Tuesday, South Carolina resident Ford Jackson, 24, was among the sailors enjoying a few drinks at the Green House Bar and Restaurant. "I went to the beach by the airport and did a little shopping," he said.
In Frederiksted, one store owner who asked that her name and that of her store not be used, said a number of sailors came in shopping for condoms, but that's about all they were buying. "We kept a straight face," she said.
She said the presence of the ships' personnel hasn't helped boost Frederiksted business much — because taxi drivers whisk them off to Christiansted.
However, at least some sailors found their way around Frederiksted. "We had a whole bunch of them here," Eva Janders, a bartender at the Rainbow Beach Club, said. She said they had gone back to their ships Tuesday afternoon, presumably to get ready for the night's action. "They were quizzing me on what's going on," she said.
A source on St. John said some of the sailors were scheduled to do a beach cleanup with the V.I. National Park. No one could be reached at the park for further information.

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