USS Eisenhower docks in Cyprus
Limassol, Oct 25 - The USS Eisenhower, one of the world's largest warships, docked off Cyprus on Wednesday in what US officials described a "thank you" visit for the eastern Mediterranean country's help as an evacuation hub during the Lebanon conflict.
"This routine port visit offers a shore leave opportunity for the more than 5,000 crew members and is a way for America to thank Cyprus for its support during the Lebanon crisis," a US embassy statement said.
Some 13,500 American citizens were evacuated from Lebanon to Cyprus during the early days of the Israeli bombardment in July. More than 50,000 third country nationals used Cyprus as a safe haven during the 34-day conflict.
The island later served as a transit point for supplying UN humanitarian aid to war-ravaged southern Lebanon.
The southern port of Limassol, where the US ship has docked, is currently being used as a logistics hub for the UN's maritime mandate for securing Lebanon's shores against arms smuggling.
The Dwight D Eisenhower is participating in maritime security exercises and theatre security cooperation in the region with the militaries of Italy, Greece, Cyprus, Bosnia, Greece, Croatia, Montenegro and Romania.
The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier has a 4.5-acre flight deck that can support as many as 100 aircraft.
The ship's two nuclear reactors can provide energy for more than 18 years of operation without refueling. Moreover, the USS Eisenhower is 24 stories tall and as long as the Empire State Building (about 1,092 feet, 381 meters).
During the four-day visit, US Navy personnel will engage in community projects and play volleyball and basketball against local teams.