The USS George H.W. Bush, a Nimitz-class warship, has docked outside an Israeli port, local media report, saying it is the first such visit in 17 years. The supercarrier has been a base for US coalition airstrikes against Islamic State.
The US Navy supercarrier dropped anchor some four kilometers from the port of Haifa in northern Israel, Israeli media said. The 333-meter long ship was too large to dock in the port directly.
The carrier, which is named after the 41st US President, left its homeport of Norfolk, Virginia in January of this year to battle Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) militants in Syria and Iraq. The warship mainly operated in the Persian Gulf.
Commissioned in 2009, the USS George H.W. Bush can host a crew of 5,000-6,000 people and accommodate about 90 fighter jets and helicopters. She has two Westinghouse A4W nuclear reactors and can, thus, operate for about 20 years without refueling.
The reason for ship’s visit is yet unclear. It will spend four days near Haifa and then depart to continue operations against the extremists.
The warship’s crew is expected to tour the Jewish state in the coming days and celebrate US Independence Day there on July 4, the Times of Israel said, citing Channel 10.
According to the local media, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman are to visit the carrier on Monday, along with Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav.