U.S. aircraft carrier George H.W. Bush docked in the port of Haifa, Israel — the first such visit of an American aircraft carrier in nearly 20 years.
The planned port visit was meant to “enhance U.S.-Israel relations as the two nations reaffirm their continued commitment to the collective security of the European and Middle East Regions,” per a U.S. Navy press release.
The Bush also hosted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on July 3 in what marks the first visit of a head of state to the carrier.
“It is a timely show of American power projection and deterrence capability. American presence and influence in this stormy region is very important,” Israel’s Minister of Intelligence and Transportation Israel Katz said of the Bush’s visit.
The presence of the Bush acted as a show of American strength in a region rife with instability. Previously, the Bush faced off with Iranian Revolutionary Guard vessels in the Straight of Hormuz during a tense encounter March 22. IRGC speedboats came within 900 yards of the Bush in an action that was described as provocative and reckless by U.S. commanders, per an AP report.
The Nimitz-class carrier served as a base in the Persian Gulf and Mediterranean Sea for airstrikes against the Islamic State. The carrier’s fleet of F-18s carried out approximately 1,600 sorties — averaging between 20-25 per day — against ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria, according to Haaretz.
The Bush is home to more than 5,000 crew members and capable of carrying more than 75 aircraft.
SOURCE: Mackenzie Wolf