Israel Navy Gets Fifth Dolphin-class Submarine From Germany

New sub expected to arrive in Israel next year; a fourth vessel, the INS Tanin, was launched in Germany a year ago and is expected to arrive in Israel and be put into service by the navy in the next few months.

Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen
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Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen

Israel received its fifth Dolphin-class submarine, the INS Rahav, in an official ceremony Monday in Kiel, Germany.

The ceremony was attended by the director general of Israel's Defense Ministry, Maj. Gen. (res.) Udi Shani; Navy Commander Rear Admiral Ram Rotberg; and other senior naval officers and Defense Ministry officials. Participants broke a bottle of champagne on the sub's bow as a sign of good luck.

The INS Rahav is Israel's fifth Dolphin-class submarine. All were acquired from Germany. The fourth vessel, the INS Tanin, was launched in Germany a year ago and is expected to arrive in Israel and be put into service by the navy in the next few months.

These two newest submarines are capable of remaining submerged for long periods of time using "air independent propulsion" technology, which allows non-nuclear submarines to operate without the use of atmospheric oxygen. The Israel Defense Forces says the two subs feature "significant technological developments" that render them superior to their predecessors.

The Defense Ministry has already signed a deal for a sixth Dolphin-class submarine, which is not expected to go into service until almost the end of the decade. Then-Defense Minister Ehud Barak signed the agreement in March 2012, and an Israeli team is in Germany now making preparations.

Germany will cover a third of the total cost, paying 135 million euros. Similar agreements were reached with Germany for both the Rahav and the Tanin.

Foreign media has reported that the new submarines are capable of carrying and launching cruise missiles with nuclear warheads, and that the submarine force would allow Israel a second strike capability in case of a nuclear attack.

Doubling the Israeli fleet from three to six submarines over the next seven years will require the navy to increase its manpower. It has upped the number of relevant training programs, and has also increased the size of its officer training course. This will help not only with the new submarines but also with others, pending requirements that have yet to be finalized, such as a move to protect the offshore natural gas production platforms.

The Dolphin submarine being built at a shipyard in Kiel, northern Germany on March 27, 2012. Credit: AP

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