The USS George H.W. Bush aircraft carrier will dock at Israel’s Haifa Bay for the first time in 17 years ahead of participating in military air campaigns against the Islamic State.
The nuclear-powered warship has a crew of about 5,700 sailors and 80 fighter jets. While it’s docked, sailors will be granted shore leave and provided with dozens of buses to tour Haifa and travel to other Israeli cities of their choosing. The visit is expected to be a boon to the local Israeli economy.
Haifa was a base for the U.S. Sixth Fleet in the 1980s and 90s, but in 2000 when the Second Intifada occurred the U.S. Navy pulled out.
The U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv has not confirmed reports that the naval vessel will dock in Haifa for four days beginning July 1.
According to the Pentagon, the 1100-foot nuclear-powered carrier was relocated to the Eastern Mediterranean from the Arabian Gulf in May. The aircraft carrier deployed from Norfolk, Virginia. January 21 as part of Operation Inherent Resolve to combat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.