TEL AVIV (Feb. 8)
The U.S. aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy arrived unscheduled at Haifa Friday and will remain there for a week. It is part of a Sixth Fleet combat group assembled in the Eastern Mediterranean during the past two weeks, apparently in connection with the hostage crisis in Lebanon.
The fleet reportedly has been withdrawn from Lebanese waters in order to reduce tension. which was thought to endanger the lives of the hostages, a number of Americans among them.
The JFK was accompanied by the USS Nitro, an ammunition storage vessel which had been scheduled to visit Haifa. The giant carrier, well over 1,000 feet long and too large to enter the port, is anchored in Haifa Bay. It carries 90 aircraft and several thousand officers and crew.
The JFK was reported late last month to have sailed from Spain for the Eastern Mediterranean in what was seen as a show of force aimed at the rash of hostage-taking in Beirut. Israel Radio reported at the time that a Soviet Navy task force which had just completed maneuvers in the central Mediterranean, was ordered to delay returning to its Black Sea base in order to keep the American warships under surveillance.
Although the JFK was unexpected in Haifa, the port has been preparing for an influx of foreign seamen. Twenty destroyers representing the U.S., British and Italian navies are scheduled to call there during February, six of them American.