The U.S. Navy on Friday officially closed its submarine maintenance base on Sardinia, shuttering the last of its offices at the base on La Maddalena, a Navy official said.
The final base closing date had been slated for Thursday, but the Navy took advantage of the additional leap year day in February.
“Yesterday was supposed to be the last day, but this is the final, final,” Scott Campbell, a spokesman with Navy Region Europe, said Friday.
The closing ends 35 years of U.S. naval presence in the archipelago of northern Sardinia. The last U.S. ship to be stationed there — the submarine tender USS Emory S. Land — left its base on the island of Santo Stefano on Sept. 29. The Italian navy still maintains a base there, Campbell said.
The naval support site on La Maddalena, a short ferry ride from Santo Stefano, also ended its presence Friday, the last day of work on the base for 33 personnel — six U.S. Navy and the remaining Italian civilian employees — who packed up, shut off computers and turned off phones for the last time, Campbell said.
Two civilian employees, one American and on Italian, will remain there for several months to operate a liaison office “to make sure our hosts have all their needs attended to,” Campbell said.
Italian officials have yet to decide what will become of the base, according to Italian news media, which have reported ideas ranging from turning it into a resort area, artists’ colony, or commercial shipyard for the yachts and ferries.
The aging naval base, which was set up 35 years ago during the Cold War, has been the home port for a submarine tender to repair and upkeep submarines that have transited the Mediterranean Sea.