The Israel Navy led an exercise last week with the participation of ten other navies, designed to prepare the country for a highly powerful earthquake. This is the first time that the navy has carried out a wide-scale exercise focused on the response at sea following a major earthquake.
The drill simulated a 7.5-magnitude quake that could cost as many as 200,000 and cause the collapse of 250,000 homes, as well as disabling key infrastructure and affect the lives of 3 million people. The Israel Defense Forces initiated the drill after the army provided disaster assistance to the people of Haiti in 2010 following the earthquake there that killed more than 200,000 people.
The international exercise, dubbed Mighty Waves, included the participation of the ten foreign navies, including the United States, France, Britain, Germany, Greece and Cyprus. Also participating were Italy, Chile and Canada, as well as NATO.
After reviewing the consequences of disasters around the world, Israeli authorities realized that the naval operations would constitute a major aspect of any response to a powerful earthquake in Israel. The commander of the Haifa naval base, Brig. Gen. Gil Aginsky said: "Today we understand that in such an event, we will have to work with a coalition of several countries that will provide us with assistance, and that most of the activity will be by sea, because it wouldn't be possible to travel on the highways."
Aginsky noted that much of the necessary equipment, including cranes and engineering equipment would not be able to be flown in and therefore contingency plans are being made to bring them to Israel on large ships. The plans also call for bringing in a mobile hospital with 1,000 beds.