DCSIMG

Aircraft carrier will guard Bush at G8

Key points

• America has demanded heavy US military presence during G8 summit

• Advisors want to impose "30-minute total travel exclusion periods"

• Disruption of road, rail and air services throughout country expected

Key quote

"The Americans want to do everything themselves. They want to have their own helicopters; their own armoured limousines. This happens at every summit like this, and it always causes tension between America and their hosts." - MILITARY SOURCE

Story in full AN aircraft carrier packed with hundreds of US marines will be anchored off the west coast of Scotland during the G8 summit, according to security sources.

The assault ship, also laden with helicopters, is expected to be dispatched as the United States armed forces prepare their own massive security operation to protect the president, George Bush, during the Gleneagles summit in July.

A fleet of Galaxy C-5 planes, carrying armoured limousines and the helicopters that will take Bush and his entourage to the venue, is expected to touch down at Prestwick airport.

The US is also believed to be insisting on having its own command post so it can act independently of the British police and military if there is a threat to the president.

A military source said: "The Americans want to do everything themselves. They want to have their own helicopters; their own armoured limousines. This happens at every summit like this, and it always causes tension between America and their hosts.

"The aircraft carrier is about giving America the capability to do lots of things with people, helicopters and the like. They also want their own command post if Bush decides they have to carry out their own operation."

Meanwhile, security chiefs are planning a ban on all plane, train and vehicle movements around the airport when the world’s most powerful leaders fly in for the meeting.

Advisers want to impose "30-minute total travel exclusion periods" around each flight arriving at Prestwick with a world leader on board, to thwart protesters and terrorists.

The effect could be motorway gridlock, as well as an air-traffic nightmare for holidaymakers. This would mean all roads around the Ayrshire airport being closed, all trains being halted and all commercial flights being grounded for the arrival and departure of Bush, Vladimir Putin, Jacques Chirac and other world leaders for the summit from July 6-8.

Traffic experts say the "lockdowns" could lead to 30-mile tailbacks on the M77, as the effects of the security clampdown are felt as far north as Glasgow and south into Dumfriesshire.

Top-ranking officials met at Prestwick last week to finalise details of the operation.

A security source said: "This is by far the biggest security operation ever mounted on Scottish soil. It may well cause widespread disruption, but that cannot be avoided. It’s a small price to pay."

However, the plans have caused alarm among local police chiefs. Military commanders are also concerned that the "no-fly" periods may halt helicopter flights from HMS Gannet, the Royal Navy rescue base.

Prestwick has been chosen as the main arrival airport for the world leaders because it is more difficult for protesters to get to than Edinburgh or Glasgow.

A spokesman for Strathclyde Police said: "There may be traffic delays and disruptions because the leaders of the G8 can change their plans, and this will, in turn, force us to change our plans - but we will be keeping local communities updated."

 
 
 

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