Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin toured the United States aircraft carrier U.S.S. Nimitz, on Thursday?
Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin toured the United States aircraft carrier U.S.S. Nimitz, on Thursday (6 April), near the port of Haifa, amid widespread speculation that the United States may be considering Haifa as its Mediterranean naval base.
SYNOPSIS: The USS Nimitz, which carriers a crew of 6,200, is the largest warship in the world and her arrival in Haifa Bay on a courtesy visit to Israel has attracted considerable interest. One of the first of many prominent Israeli visitors to visit the huge carrier was Prime Minister Begin, who arrived by navy helicopter and was greeted by the ship's officers. Israeli Defence Minister Ezer Weizman has also visited the 91,000 ton vessel.
The Nimitz was due to visit Israel nearly three weeks ago, but its arrival was delayed. Observers believes this was because of the delicate diplomatic situation following Israel's action in Lebanon. Now with two other cruisers, the Nimitz is to stay near Haifa until Tuesday (11 April). During her stay, nearly 4,000 crewmen are enjoying shore leave.
The presence of the naval giant has provoked speculation in diplomatic circles that Haifa may be under consideration as a US naval base in the Mediterranean, following the closure of the NATO base in Malta. Haifa or Alexandria in Egypt are two ports widely thought to be under consideration.