In a joint naval exercise this week, Israeli missile boats practiced refueling from a US tanker in the Red Sea, increasing “the range and operational capabilities of the Israeli Navy”, it said on Tuesday. the Israel Defense Forces.
With some 300 soldiers and commanders from each country, the exercise – dubbed “Intrinsic Defender” – which began last Sunday was the largest between the Israeli Navy and the US Fifth Fleet in recent years, the IDF said.
It simulated naval combat, naval gunnery drills, ship protection, sabotage and neutralization of naval mines, search and rescue scenarios and the provision of medical aid at sea, the military said in a statement.
“For the first time, Israeli Navy missile ships practiced refueling from a US tanker in the Red Sea, increasing the range and operational capabilities of the Israeli Navy,” the statement said. .
“The ‘Intrinsic Defender’ exercise expands the Israeli Navy’s range and operational capabilities. Cooperation with the US Fifth Fleet helps us improve and hone,” said Israeli Navy Chief Major General David Sa’ar Salama.
“This exercise is an important and significant step for our strategic stability in the maritime domain,” he added.
The exercise also included teams from the Navy’s submarine mission unit training with their American counterparts to neutralize naval mines in the Bay of Eilat in southern Israel, as well as to neutralize explosives using unmanned vessels at the Haifa naval base in the north.
The Navy’s Snapir Unit – a force protection and port security unit – trained with the US Coast Guard to take control of ships and ‘prevent hostile terrorist activity’, the military said. .
The military hailed the drill as “another example of the close cooperation between the Israeli Navy and the US Fifth Fleet.”
“This exercise provided an opportunity for mutual learning, sharing operational capabilities and strengthening the strategic partnership between the two militaries,” he said, adding that the exercise “brought new capabilities to the Navy that increase its operational capabilities both routine and emergency”. situation. »
In November, the Israeli Navy took part in a 5th Fleet-led exercise in the Red Sea alongside the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in what Israeli officials said was meant to serve as a response to Iran’s recent attacks on the Israeli naval resources.
Tensions have been particularly high with Iran in recent months amid indirect talks with the United States in Vienna over a mutual return to the 2015 nuclear deal.