US Aircraft Carrier Docks in Eilat (USS Kearsarge LHD-3)
USS Kearsarge returns to the Gulf of Aqaba for the first time since it was nearly hit by rockets in 2005. An American aircraft carrier docked Tuesday in Eilat and is scheduled to remain in port for several days.
The USS Kearsargeís arrival was prearranged with Israeli officials as part of the US militaryís routine operations in the Mediterranean Sea and Persian Gulf.
No joint drills are planned between the carrier and IDF forces, an IDF spokesman said, but the Kearsargeís crew will be granted shore leave in Israelís southern resort town. The sailors are also scheduled to take part in tours around the country.
While docking in neighboring Aqaba, just across the gulf from Eilat, in 2005, the Kearsarge and the USS Ashland narrowly escaped a rocket attack on the port. The Abdullah al-Azzam Brigades of al-Qaeda in Egypt claimed responsibility for the attack on the American ships. No American servicemen were injured in the incident, but one Jordanian soldier was killed and another wounded when the rocket hit a warehouse along the adjacent pier.
The ship, an amphibious assault craft capable of naval, ground, and aerial attack, is home to over 1,000 sailors and 2,000 marines and is the service platform for fighter aircraft, V-22 Osprey, helicopters, hovercraft, missiles, and assault ships.
Source: By Adiv Sterman, The Times of Israel News - 14 May 2013
Photo: The US Navy USS Kearsarge steaming into the Gulf of Aqaba. (Photo by Official US Navy Imagery)