Throughout the Mediterranean, most people believe that the United States still stations two aircraft carrier task forces in the area at all times. For decades, the Sixth Fleet did have at least one, and usually two, carriers in the Med. But since the end of the Cold War, and the elimination of the mighty Soviet Black Sea fleet (and the possibility of it fighting its way through the Turkish Straights and into the Mediterranean), the U.S. Navy rarely has more than a few warships in the area. Rarely do carriers visit the Mediterranean anymore, except when passing through on the way to, or from, the Persian Gulf. Local intelligence agencies are aware that the Sixth Fleet is no longer around, as are the bartenders and hookers who work in the major ports that the Sixth Fleet visited regularly for half a century. But for most people living on the shores of the Mediterranean, the presence of the Sixth Fleet still seems real. Yes, just beyond the horizon, the American carriers and their escorts must be steaming still, ready for anything. Old memories die hard, and U.S. Navy has not gone out of its way to publicize the fact that the carriers are gone. A virtual presence has its uses, and its a lot cheaper than having real carriers in the area.