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The Israeli Navy (Hebrew: חיל הים הישראלי, Heil HaYam HaYisraeli) is the naval arm of the Israel Defense Forces, operating primarily in the Mediterranean Sea theater as well as the Gulf of Aqaba and the Red Sea theater. The current commander in chief of the Israeli Navy is Aluf Eli Marom.
The origins of Israeli Navy lay at the end of 1920s with the founding of the Yarkon and Zvulun marine sports clubs. In 1938, encouraged by the Jewish Agency, Dr. Shlomo Bardin founded the Marine High School in Bosmat, the Technion's Junior Technical College. 1943 witnessed the founding of the Palyam, the naval branch of the Palmach, whose training was undertaken at the maritime school.
Jewish merchant marine started and they had the SS Tel-Aviv, and cargo ships such as the Atid.
In 1942 1,100 Haganah volunteers joined the Royal Navy, mostly in technical roles (12 of them were officers by the nomination agreement of the Jewish Agency with the Royal Navy). A few reached sea service and combat service. Two of them served with the Fleet Air Arm (FAA), one of which was Edmond Wilhelm Brillant. With the end of the Second World War, Palyam members took part in clandestine immigration activities, bringing Europe's Jews to Palestine, as well as commando actions against Royal Navy deportation ships. Royal Navy volunteers, meanwhile, rejoined the Hagana.
During the last months of British Mandate in Palestine, the former Royal Navy volunteers started working on the captured clandestine immigration ships (known as the Fleet of Shadows) in Haifa harbor, salvaged a few and pressed them into service. These were to become the Navy's first ships and saw service in the 1948 Israeli War of Indepedence.
With the founding of the IDF in early 1948, the Israeli Navy was therefore formed from a core of the following personnel:
- Royal Navy Volunteers with the technical skills and discipline acquired from the Royal Navy, though with no active sea service and experience on Royal Navy Ships).
- Palyam members who had led the clandestine and immigration effort, but had no sea background in navigation or leading a ship into a battle. The captains of clandestine and immigration ships were Greek and Italian, while Palyam personnel were commanding the ship under instructions from the Haganah. Ike Aharonowitch, captain of the Exodus and a Jew, was the exception rather than the rule.
- Merchant Marine captains and chief engineers, possessing navigation skills but lacking combat skills.
- Jewish volunteers from the US Navy and Royal Navy, such as Commander Paul Schulman  of the USN, and Commanders Solomon and Allen Burk of the Royal Navy. These, however, were often discriminated against and their experience wasted by a navy command that was based on the Palmach and its various branches. This resulted in odd situations where unskilled officers from the Palyam were in command of far more experienced naval officers.
To make matters worse, Palyam personnel often resisted efforts to instill order, discipline and rank in the newly formed service. Mess rooms were initially shared by both officers and enlisted men. Ships possessed a captain with nautical skills, but also a commanding officer regarded as political. This would cause a great deal of debate between veterans of the Palyam, Royal Navy volunteers from the Haganah and USN Machal volunteers about what form the Navy should take. Commander Allen Burk is reputed to have said, out of despair, "You cannot make naval officers from cowboys".
The Israeli Navy suffered from a lack of professional command during its early days. Gershon Zak, head of the IDF "Sea Service", was a teacher and bureaucrat without any relevant experience. Having never been recruited into the IDF, Zak was a civilian and had no official rank. The early days of the Israeli Navy were therefore characterized by political infighting, as many groups and individuals jockied for power. Palyam politics blocked the nomination of Paul Schulman (a USN Jewish Officer with a rank of Commander who volunteerd to the Israeli Navy) as Navy-Commander in Chief and he resigned in 1949. The first Navy-Commander in Chief awarded the rank of Aluf was Shlomo Shamir.
The conclusion of the 1948 war afforded the navy the time to build up its strength. Beginning in the early 1950s the navy purchased Frigates, Torpedo Boats, Destroyers and eventually Submarines. The material build-up was accompanied by the training of Israeli Navy officers in Royal Navy academies in the UK and Malta, as well as in France.
Three distinct periods characterize the history of the Israeli Navy:
- Foundation and early days
- The destroyers' age
- The missile boats era, beginning in 1965 and bearing fruit during the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
Until 1967 the Naval Headquarters were located at Stella-Marris, on the slopes of Mount Carmel, Haifa. After the Six-Day War it was relocated to the Kirya in Tel Aviv, next to IDF Headquarters.
The Israeli Navy is small compared to other Navies and the officers chain of command is as follows with respect to Royal - Navy / USN:
- Rear – Admiral (Rear – Admiral Upper Half USN) is called Aluf (Army rank equals to Maj. General). Commander in Chief of the Navy reports to Chief of Staff called Rav-Aluf (Lt. General)
- Commodore : (Rear – Admiral Lower Half USN) is called Tat – Aluf (Army rank equals to Brig. General)
- Captain: is called Aluf - Mishne (Army rank equals to Colonel)
- Commander: is called Sgan-Aluf (Army rank equals to Lt. Colonel)
- Lt. Commander: is called Rav-Seren (Army rank equals to Major)
- Lieutenant: is called Seren (Army rank equals to Captain)
- Sub- Lieutenant (Lieutenant Junior Grade USN): is called Segen (Army rank equals to Lieutenant)
- Midshipman (Ensign USN): is called Segen-Mishne (Army rank equals to Second Lieutenant)
- Cadet RN (Midshipman USN) : is called Hovel (Navy Cadet) there are 5 classes in Israeli Navy school of cadets
4th Class Cadets of the Israeli Navy
Ships of the Israeli Navy
- The emblem of Haifa naval base is two arrows - one signifying the Missile Boats Flotilla and the other the Submarine Flotilla.
- The emblem of the Ashdod naval base is two opposing arrows.
- Eilat - Patrol Boats Unit 915.
- Eilat naval base was founded in 1951 and has been responsible for the Israeli Navy's Red Sea theater since 1981, when the Red Sea Naval Command Center was withdrawn from Sharm el-Sheikh according to the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty.
- The emblem of Eilat naval base represents the red roofs of Eilat.
- The Naval Training base - located in Haifa, contains the submarine operations school, the missile boat operations school and the naval command school.
- The emblem of the Haifa training base is an owl, symbolizing wisdom and hard learning.
- Mamtam (Hebrew: ממת"ם) - IT, processes and computing.
- Mamtam is a small unit responsible for all Israeli Navy signal and IT systems, both logistic and operational. The soldiers that serve there are mainly programmers and university graduates in engineering, computer science and other technological professions.
Structure of the Israel Navy
The Missile Boats Flotilla, based at Haifa.
- 34th Anti-Submarine Squadron פלגה נגד צוללות (ShaNeTz = shayetet neged tzolalot)
- Protecting Israeli commerce at sea from foreign fleets.
- Preventing a possible naval blockade of Israeli ports during wartime.
- Blockading enemy ports at wartime.
The Submarine Flotilla, an elite volunteer unit founded in 1959.
Naval commandos: special forces and a counter terrorist unit.
Special salvage and underwater work unit. Started as a branch of Navy Shipyards, the damage control branch and later joined to the unit experienced Flotilla-13 divers.
The Corps' relies on its Naval Intelligence Division for naval intelligence.
(front) and INS Sufa
(back) in 2008.
Dabur class patrol boat 860, 2008.
Super Dvora MK III patrol boat.
Nachshol class patrol boat 752, 2008.
- INS Romach, pronounced /ʁomaχ/ (Lance, 1981) - Active
- INS Keshet (Bow, 1982) - Active
- INS Hetz, pronounced /χeʦ/ (Arrow, 1991) - Active
- INS Kidon (Javelin, 1995) (Sa'ar 4-class built in 1974 and converted to Saar 4.5 class in 1994) - Active
- INS Tarshish (1995) - (Sa'ar 4-class built in 1975 and converted to Saar 4.5 class in 1998) - Active
- INS Yaffo (Jaffa, 1998) (Sa'ar 4-class built in 1975 and converted to Saar 4.5 class in 1998) - Active
- INS Herev, pronounced /χeʁev/ (Sword, 2002) - Active
- INS Sufa (Storm, 2003) - Active
- INS Nitzachon (Victory, 1978) - Active
- INS Atzmaut (Independence, 1979) - Active
- INS Dolphin (1999)
- INS Livyathan (Whale, 1999)
- INS Tekumah (Revival, 2000)
Dolphin class AIP-capable submarines
In the fall of 2009 Israel also took delivery of two additional submarines which were ordered from Germany in 2005 at a cost of about US$650 million each. These two new boats are similar to the highly advanced German U212 submarine and feature an air-independent propulsion (AIP) system. Israel is said to be interested in purchasing a third submarine of this type.
- INS Keshet - cargo ship
- INS Nir - costal tender ship
- INS Nahariya - coastal tender ship
- 78-ton tugs - built in Israel
- Dolphin type underwater crafts
- Maiale (pig) type underwater crafts
- Snunit boats
- Zaharon boats
- Moulit boats
- Morena rigid-hulled inflatable boats
- Boeing Harpoon - anti-ship missile
- Rafael Barak - Ship Point Defense Missile System
- IAI Gabriel - sea-to-sea missile
- Popeye Turbo - Cruise Missile believed to be carried on Dolphin Class Submarines. May carry nuclear warheads.
- Typhoon - Naval Optronic Stabilized Weapon Platforms
- NAVLAR Artillery Rocket System
- EL/M-2221 STGR - Search, Track & Guidance/Gunnery Radar
- EL/M-2228S AMDR - Automatic Missile Detection Radar
- EL/M-2228X SGRS - Surveillance & Gunnery Radar System
- EL/M-2238 STAR -Surveillance & Threat Alert Radar
- EL/M-2226 ACSR - Advanced Coastal Surveillance Radar
In a radical revamp of its surface fleet modernization program, the Israel Navy has shelved long-held plans to purchase Lockheed Martin-produced Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) due to their ever-rising cost estimate, as well as exercising a fallback option involving corvettes built by Northrop Grumman. Instead, sources say, the Navy is pushing to establish a combat shipbuilding industry through customized, locally built versions of a German corvette design. Currently in an exploration phase, the concept calls for a stretched, approximately 2,200-ton version of the MEKO A-100 built by ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS), the Hamburg-based consortium building two Dolphin-class submarines for the Israel Navy. Countries that are building or now operating the 1,650-ton German-designed corvette include Malaysia and Poland. If carried out, the ships would likely be built locally by Israel Shipyards (which built the Sa'ar 4.5 class and earlier INS ships), with IAI acting as prime systems integrator.
The Israeli Navy also plans to buy 4 Super Dvora and 2 Shaldag patrol boats.
The Navy is building up an amphibious assault capability to deliver battalion-sized infantry forces and is in discussion with the Ground Forces Command to decide which battalions will be trained in landing operations.
List of Commanders
Eli Marom, the current commander of the Israeli navy.
Source: Jewish Virtual Library
- Gershon Zak, 1948–1949
- Paul Shulman, 1949
- Shlomo Shamir, 1949–1950
- Mordechai Limon, 1951–1954
- Shmuel Tankos, 1954–1960
- Yohai Ben-Nun, 1960–1966
- Shlomo Er'el, 1966–1968
- Abraham Botzer, 1968–1972
- Benjamin Telem, 1972–1976
- Michael Barkai, 1976–1978
- Ze'ev Almog, 1979–1985
- Abraham Ben-Shoshan, 1985–1989
- Michael Ram, 1989–1992
- Ami Ayalon, 1992–1995
- Alex Tal, 1995–1999
- Yedidya Yaari, 1999–2004
- David Ben Ba'ashat, 2004–2007
- Eli Marom, 2007–present
|Commanders of the Israeli Navy
Zak (1948-49) · Shulman (1949) · Shlomo Shamir (1949-50) · Limon (1951-54) · Tankus (1954-60) · Ben-Nun (1960-66) · Arel (1966-68) · Botzer (1968-72) · Telem (1972-76) · Barkai (1976-78) · Almog (1979-85) · Ben-Shoshan (1985-89) · Ram (1989-92) · Ayalon (1992-95) · Tal (1995-99) · Ya'ari (1999-04) · Ben Ba'ashat (2004-07) · Marom (2007-)