Israel obtains fourth German-manufactured submarine

Champagne bottle christens Israel’s fourth Dolphin class submarine in Germany • The submarine is scheduled to arrive at Israeli shores in 2013 • Latest acquisition from Germany can stay underwater for longer periods of time.

Lilach Shoval and The Associated Press
Diving in: The Israeli delegation to Germany poses with their newly-purchased German-manufactured submarine.


Photo credit: Defense Ministry


Diving in: The Israeli delegation to Germany poses with their newly-purchased German-manufactured submarine.


Photo credit: Defense Ministry


The Defense Ministry and Israel Defense Forces took ownership of the navy’s fourth Dolphin class submarine on Thursday. The ship, which was given the name „INS Tanin” (INS Crocodile), was transferred to Israeli control during a ceremony attended by Defense Ministry Director-General Udi Shani and Navy Commander Vice Admiral Ram Rothberg.


The submarine, which is said to be equipped with cruise missiles fitted with nuclear warheads, is scheduled to enter Haifa port in 2013 and will undergo tests and drills until then.


The ceremony took place in the German city of Kiel, 90 km (56 miles) north of Hamburg, and included the traditional christening of the vessel with a bottle of champagne, which according to a senior Israel navy officer is a good sign for the ship.


„The ceremony with the German team was very exciting, and more than that it was one more important step in understanding the deep significance the submarine has for Israel,” the senior officer said.


The officer pointed out that the fourth submarine was similar to its three predecessors but can be submerged for longer periods using advanced air-independent propulsion technology. The officer said, „The purchase of the submarine was an acknowledgement by the navy of the importance of deterrence and overwhelming might. We are in the frontline of the Middle East when it comes to both what is hidden and what is naked to the eye.”


According to the officer, the new submarine will have the same number of soldiers and the same types of weapons as those of the other three submarines.


Foreign media sources have reported that German Dolphin submarines are equipped with cruise missiles fitted with nuclear warheads, which give Israel a „second-strike” capability should the Jewish state be attacked with weapons of mass destruction.


Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that the submarine would increase Israel’s capabilities and strength „in the face of growing regional challenges.”


Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz said, „The navy and its fleet of submarines, among other IDF branches, constitute an additional deterrence, defense, and strategic combative unit for the IDF and Israel.”


Defense Ministry Director-General Udi Shani said, „The ceremony, above all, represents the unique, steadfast relationship between Israel and Germany, especially in light of recent regional developments and challenges.”


A month and a half ago, Barak signed an agreement for a sixth submarine, which is scheduled to arrive in Israel in 2017 and will join the fifth submarine, which is scheduled to arrive in 2014. Each submarine costs half a billion dollars, a third of which is subsidized by Germany.


The senior naval officer pointed out that Israel’s fleet of submarines will not render the need for additional naval equipment obsolete. Israel, the officer said, will need additional equipment to protect its offshore gas fields, which are currently being developed.


Military experts say the Dolphins could be deployed to the Persian Gulf as part of an Israeli strike on Iran.


Iran and the international community are to resume negotiations on Tehran’s nuclear program later this month in Baghdad. Although Israel has welcomed the diplomatic effort, it refuses to rule out the use of force, repeatedly stressing that all options, even military ones, remain on the table.


The sale of the submarines sparked criticism from German Nobel-prize-winning author Gunter Grass, who in a recent poem blasted Israel’s alleged nuclear program. Alluding to the sale, Grass said the submarines were capable of firing „all-destroying” nuclear missiles into Iran.


Since Germany and Israel established diplomatic ties in 1965, Germany has become perhaps Israel’s closest ally in Europe.