US Navy support base on Sardinian island closes after 35 years

The US Navy closed its support base on a tiny island off Sardinia on Thursday as part of its overall reshuffling of its military forces in Europe, officials said. The base employees on La Maddalena island have left, although some may return to help out the Italian navy as it takes over the site, said Scott Campbell, a spokesman at the US Navy's European region office in Italy. The US opened the base 35 years ago at the height of the Cold War, to provide support for submarine tenders. At its height, it was a support site for 2,600 sailors, civilian employees and their families, the Navy said in a statement. Washington is closing the base as part of its overall reshuffling of forces in Europe to reflect post Cold War realities. The last ship based at La Maddalena, the USS Emory S. Land, left the island Sept. 29, along with its 900 crew. The ship's home port is Bremerton, Washington. Italian politicians and residents of Sardinian had opposed the servicing of US nuclear submarines at the base, and had objected to the Italian government's approval of La Maddalena for a base without consulting Parliament.