American troops from aircraft carrier Harry S. Truman are finding Split very much to their liking.
The centre of Split has been flooded with young soldiers from the US nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman, which has 5,000 crew members and will be anchored in front of the city port until 9 December. “Basically, we are sightseeing and visiting small shops. In Diocletian’s cellars, we have bought a map of the Palace. We like to explore the world, especially those of us for whom this is the first foreign tour. We spent Saturday night at the Peristyle. This is a fun visit for us because we have no military tasks here. We are on very good terms with Croatian people, and they have invited us to visit. It is just wonderful here. I have been serving on the aircraft carrier for only a month, but I love my job”, said a 19-year-old soldier who was not allowed to reveal his name, reports Slobodna Dalmacija on December 7, 2015.
“We know what we are going to do every day. I will go on a tour of the Krka National Park. In the meantime, I ride around town on a bicycle”, sailor Michael said. Others add they are looking for gifts for their wives. “They are buying postcards, magnets and mugs, nothing particularly costly. They spend between 30 and 60 kuna”, said a saleswoman at a booth at the Diocletian’s cellars, while the other added that they are very polite.
Ivanka Domazet, a cook at the “Corto Maltese” restaurant in the city centre, said that they mostly order Dalmatian “sarma”, lamb chops and steaks. They drink Coke and bottled water. “By talking with the locals, I like to discover which food I should try and which sights I should visit. Food is very fresh and I believe that the ingredients were purchased on your market. I was looking for a restaurant where you can eat local specialties, because that is a part of the local culture that I want to get to know. I am also delighted with the architecture, since streets in the centre are stone-paved, while the people are polite, tall, beautiful and, as far as I have seen, devoted to their families”, 33-year-old Derren said.
“After arriving in Split, they first took us by bus to the City Mall, but we haven’t bought anything there. We thought that in Croatia prices would be lower, but actually they are about the same as in America. On Saturday night, we went to the city centre where I met many people from Split. On the waterfront, we had fun, we drank and danced. On Sunday, about a dozen of us went to play golf at the Split 1700 golf club. There we had lunch and then we returned to the waterfront. Now, we will continue to explore your city and meet new people”, said a 29-year-old soldier who was not allowed to reveal his name.
Mayor of Split Ivo Baldasar received on Monday morning Rear Admiral Bred C. Batchelder, the commander of the aircraft carrier battle group. On behalf of his crew, Batchelder expressed his gratitude for the exceptional kindness and hospitality of the inhabitants of Split, while Baldasar said he hoped that the cooperation between Croatia and the USA would be even closer in the future. “This meeting is a confirmation of partnership and friendship between our two countries in the framework of NATO. The ships have come to our city to have some rest before the commitments that lie ahead.”
On Monday, sailors from USS Harry S. Truman played several friendly basketball and football matches against the teams of the Croatian Navy. Although Croatian Navy would probably stand no chance in any sea battle, on the courts they have fared much better. “For us, this is relaxation and team building before our departure. The result is not important, although we were surprised how well Croats play basketball and football”, a young 19-year-old sailor Antoine said.