US aircraft carrier docks in Eilat
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US aircraft carrier docks in Eilat

USS Kearsarge returns to the Gulf of Aqaba for the first time since it was nearly hit by rockets in 2005

Adiv Sterman is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Illustrative photo of the USS Kearsarge steaming into the Gulf of Aqaba (photo credit: Official US Navy Imagery/File)
Illustrative photo of the USS Kearsarge steaming into the Gulf of Aqaba (photo credit: Official US Navy Imagery/File)

An American aircraft carrier docked Tuesday in Eilat and is scheduled to remain in port for several days.

The USS Kearsarge’s arrival was prearranged with Israeli officials as part of the US military’s 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 Kearsarge’s crew will be granted shore leave in Israel’s 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. 

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