The Warner – known to its crew as the “Sledgehammer of Freedom” – stopped in Naples' harbour on March 20th, three and a half weeks before it fired cruise missiles on Syrian military facilities.
Yet as Mayor Luigi de Magistris pointed out on Monday, the port of Naples is officially a “denuclearized zone”, declared off-limits in 2015 to nuclear-powered vessels or those carrying nuclear weapons.
In a note addressed to Rear Admiral Arturo Faraone, who commands the port authority, de Magistris urged him to remember in future that such vessels are not welcome in the waters of Naples, which has declared itself a “city of peace”.
“Our administration is not against anyone but it is in favour of policies of peace, disarmament and international cooperation,” the mayor told Ansa.
The USS John Warner being commissioned in 2015. Photo: Casey Hopkins/US Navy
Faraone responded that he “shared the concerns” of keeping the port of Naples nuclear-free, but did not have the authority to deny or allow foreign military vessels entry to Italian waters, which falls under the Ministry of Defence's jurisdiction.
The Warner remained three nautical miles (around six kilometres) outside the entrance to the port, he said.
Italy has said that it will not participate in the offensive in Syria, led by the United States with support from France and the UK.
It will, however, provide logistic support where necessary to its military allies. Italy hosts an estimated 13,000 American soldiers across six bases, including the Navy complex in Naples that houses US Naval Forces Europe and the Sixth Fleet.
Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni is due to brief parliament on the situation in Syria on Tuesday afternoon.
Photo: Joseph Eid/AFP