The US Navy's helicopter carrier USS Kearsarge sailed into port at the naval base of Souda, on Crete, on Friday morning, accompanied by tugs, with a crew of 77 navy officers and 1,100 sailors.

The amphibian assault ship is carrying a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft, and is equipped with Sea Sparrow and Rolling Airframe missiles, as well as Phalanx anti-aircraft cannons.

Its chief mission is supporting the landing of sea forces anywhere in the world, and can also provide aircraft control services for missions, while it also has a hospital unit with a capacity of 600 patients.

The arrival of the USS Kearsarge at Souda and the prospect of the naval base's implication in the crisis in Libya has drawn reactions, with the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) organising a protest demonstration in the afternoon.