The fast-attack Virginia-class submarine John Warner fired six Tomahawk cruise missiles in Friday’s allied airstrikes against Syria.
Now the mayor of Naples, Italy, is demanding the submarine stay far away from his self-designated “nuclear-free” city, according to several Italian media reports.
Mayor Luigi de Magistris penned a letter last week to Rear Adm.Arturo Faraone, head of the Naples port authority, expressing his displeasure with the John Warner’s presence near his city. The nuclear-powered Warner passed through the Bay of Naples in late March after the NATO Dynamic Manta exercise. Less than three weeks later, the sub was firing missiles into Syria from its position in the eastern Mediterranean.
“The fact that it is the same submarine [involved in the Syria attack] further reinforces the rightness of the order,” de Magistris told Italian news service Agenzia Nazionale Stampa Associata. “Ships of nuclear propulsion or carrying nuclear weapons are not welcome in the port of Naples and, therefore, they are not allowed to transit or stay.”
In his letter, de Magistris referenced a resolution he passed in 2015 which declared the Port of Naples a “nuclear-free area.” He called Naples a “City of Peace” that respects “the fundamental rights of everyone, convinced of disarmament and international cooperation,” according to the Italian newspaper La Repubblica.
Faraone responded that although he shares the mayor’s concerns, the arrival and transit of foreign military units falls under the jurisdiction of the Italian Ministry of Defense. He also noted that the John Warner never actually entered the Naples port in March, but remained three and a half miles from shore due to its radioactive propulsion, Rai News reported.
Naples has been a support base site for the Navy since the early 1950s. It is home to U.S. Naval Forces Europe and the U.S. Sixth Fleet.
Italy did not participate in the joint American-British-French airstrikes against Syrian chemical weapons sites, although it did provide logistical support from the NATO air base in Aviano. Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni backed the strikes, but didn’t want any attacks launched from Italian soil.