Navy gunning for clash with old rival
on 01/09/2012 00:00:00
Plenty of people seem to agree, with 1,300 visitors expected on the USS Fort McHenry in the coming days as it rests in Dublin Port.
Those coming aboard were picked through a lottery, such was the demand. So while a full house at the Aviva watches the young Navy mid shipmen try and overcome the Fighting Irish, plenty of Irish will be on board the ship. Just hopefully not fighting.
Mr Mabus and other senior navy personnel came on board yesterday afternoon in a procedure planned with, well, military precision.
Under a white marquee constructed on deck, which rattled with the wind of an Irish summer, the Navy and Marine personnel on board waited patiently for their visitors.
"Lock your legs," boomed a senior navy man over the microphone. "We don't want anybody passing out - this is not the time to pass out."
Fat chance. The atmosphere on board the ship couldn't be more determinedly American if Steven Seagal and Chuck Norris showed up. The USS Fort McHenry has just come from France and Romania where it was engaged on training manoeuvres.
Following its Irish pit-stop it will be off to the African coast where aid will be taken ashore. The same ship was in Haiti in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake in 2010.
But, before all that, there is the great American pageant - the football game.
Chief of Naval Operations John Greenert and Mr Mabus came on board to engage in some serious handshaking and backslapping, and the focus seemed to be mostly on today's game, a college rivalry that goes back decades.
Mr Mabus said: "As I said to sailors and Marines, Navy is always America's away team. We feel at home in Dublin because we feel at home in the world."
Citing Irish signatories to American founding documents and the influence of Irish people in elements of American history, he said the connection between both countries was as strong as ever.
There are certainly plenty of Murphys, Kavanaghs and Riordans among the USS McHenry crew, and the Irish presence is still strong, he said, in an increasingly diverse Navy. CNO Greenert said the links would be maintained.
Mr Mabus said while the Fort McHenry was a warship, the stress was on humanitarian aid, and was "a global force for good".
"The main thing coming out of this game is to focus Ireland and America on the Navy and the Marine Corps and just how good they are," he said.