Monday, July 03, 2017

Israeli PM Netanyahu Visits USS George H. W. Bush

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu paid a visit to the USS George H.W. Bush aircraft carrier anchored off the coast of the port city of Haifa on Monday, welcoming the warship and its crew to Israel, which he called “a carrier of American ideals in a sea of despotism.”

The ship’s arrival to Haifa on June 1 marked the first time a US aircraft carrier has visited an Israeli port in nearly two decades, the last such visit being that of the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower in April 2000.

The 333 meter-long and 20-story high ship, powered by two nuclear reactors, is the largest aircraft carrier in the world. It was too large to dock at Haifa's port itself, and was anchored some four kilometers off the coast.

The ship is carrying 75 aircraft and and 4,800 personnel, many of whom are ashore in Israel on leave.

The US naval forces said in a press release that “strengthening partnerships during port visits demonstrates our shared commitment to promoting security and stability throughout the region.”

The USS George H.W. Bust has recently taken part in recent altercations with Assad regime-allied and Iranian backed Shiite militia in Syria.

The ship will depart Haifa port on Wednesday and will resume its mission against IS from the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

Haifa port was in the 1980's and 90's the home port of the US Navy's Sixth Fleet, but US ships stopped docking there during the Second Intifada (Uprising) in the year 2000.

Israel is the top recipient of US defense aid, receiving $3.8 billion dollars annually over 10 years under a historic 2016 deal.

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