Unmindful of sporadic protests in Chennai, the American nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Nimitz sailed into Indian waters and laid anchor 3 kms away from the Chennai harbour on Monday.
Simultaneously, an Indian Naval ship also moved into position with scientific equipment and experts to check levels of radiation, following concerns that the warship, with its nuclear-powered engine and weapons, could lead to increased radiation levels — a fear that has been constantly allayed by USS Nimitz's officials.
Soon after Nimitz dropped anchor, 70 members of the crew sailed into Chennai by ferries and got involved in voluntary work — a routine public relations exercise undertaken by Nimitz crew at every port of call.
At the Qaide Millet school in Chennai, a 15-member team cleaned the school ground, painted walls and played volleyball with the kids.
Two other teams went to Kancheepuram and Mahabalipuram for similar work while a fourth team visited a tsunami shelter in North Chennai.
Asked if the voluntary work was aimed at neutralising the negative reaction to the ship's arrival in India, team leader Tom Breck observed, "As a policy we do not respond to such situations. It has been part of Nimitz tradition to help in social causes wherever the ship visits. We are here to enjoy our trip to Chennai and would not like to be distracted by any controversy."