Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu went aboard the largest warship in the world on Monday, the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush, which is anchored outside Haifa harbor.
“We stand here on the deck of a mighty aircraft carrier of the United States of America, and a few miles across the sea is another mighty aircraft carrier of our common civilization. It’s called the state of Israel,” the prime minister said in remarks made while on board.
“This great aircraft carrier is a floating island of America. It’s a symbol to the world of freedom and victory.”
“Israel too is a symbol to the world of freedom and victory,” he added. “Israel and America share the same values and the same vision. Our strength derives from our democracies, our diversity, and our dedication to individual liberty.”
U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, who accompanied PM Netanyahu, said:
“It is through vessels like this that the United States is able to lead the free world. It’s this type of vessel that enables the United States not just to project its military force, to but project its extraordinary vision throughout the world of peace and coexistence.”
And hailing the historic significance of the Israeli leader’s visit, he said: “This vessel has been all over the world, and this is the first time that it has hosted a head of state…and I think that speaks volumes [about] the unbreakable ties between the United States and the State of Israel.”
“The visit of the USS George H.W. Bush speaks to the enduring commitment to our shared interests and a commitment to fight against our common enemies,” Commanding Officer Capt. Will Pennington told reporters.
According to a statement by the U.S. European Command, the ship’s visit is 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.”
Over 5,000 sailors are getting some rest and relaxation on shore leave in Israel, as the carrier docked near Haifa port. The warship is fresh from missions in Iraq and Syria, where it attacked and destroyed IS installations.
Because of its size, the ship was unable to enter Haifa Port, which is too shallow and small to accommodate the 1,000-foot-long ship. The ship is docked adjacent to the entrance of the port, with personnel offloaded and transferred back to the ship in smaller vessels. The last time a mega-sized aircraft carrier docked in Israel was 17 years ago.