ASHDOD (Jul. 6)
The USS Richard E. Byrd, a destroyer attached to the Sixth Fleet, fired a 21 gun salute here Friday to mark the 204th anniversary of American independence. Israeli Navy missile boats fired a return solute.
The Byrd and her sistership, USS Brombey were in port to celebrate the Fourth of July and provide share leave for their crews, a total of 610 officers and men. Both American ships were decorated with flags from stem to stem. Their crews stood at attention on deck as the salvoes were fired.
Last week, an Israeli military spokesman denied a report in the Evening Standard of London that the Sixth Fleet was planning joint exercises with the Israeli Navy. According to the report from the Standard’s Washington bureau, the U.S. is preparing plans for American forces to cooperate with friendly countries outside the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in case of emergency. The newspaper said the American-Israeli naval exercises would include cooperative flights by U.S. carrier-based aircraft and planes of the Israel Air Force. The U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv refused to comment.