The Israeli Navy (Hebrew: חיל הים הישראלי, Ḥeil HaYam HaYisraeli (English: Sea Corps of Israel); Arabic: البحرية الإسرائيلية) is the naval warfare service arm of the Israel Defense Forces, operating primarily in the Mediterranean Sea theater as well as the Gulf of Eilat and the Red Sea theater. The current commander in chief of the Israeli Navy is Aluf Eli Sharvit. The Israeli Navy is believed to be responsible for maintaining Israel's offshore nuclear second strike capability.
|חיל הים הישראלי|
Cadets from the Israeli Naval Academy in December 2007
|Size||3 corvettes (Sa'ar 5 class)|
8 missile boats (Sa'ar 4.5 class)
5 submarines (Dolphin class)
45 patrol boats
2 support ships
|Garrison/HQ||HaKirya, Tel Aviv, Israel|
|Motto(s)||"Open Sea, Safe Coasts"|
|Engagements||1948 Arab–Israeli War|
War over Water
War of Attrition
Yom Kippur War
1982 Lebanon War
1982–2000 South Lebanon conflict
2006 Lebanon War
Blockade of the Gaza Strip
Operation Protective Edge
|Commander of the Navy||Aluf Eli Sharvit|
The origins of the Israeli Navy lay in the founding of the Betar Naval Academy, a Jewish naval training school established in Civitavecchia, Italy, in 1934 by the Revisionist Zionist movement under the direction of Ze'ev Jabotinsky, with the agreement of Benito Mussolini. The Academy trained cadets from all over Europe, Palestine and South Africa and produced some of the future commanders of the Israeli Navy. In September 1937, the training ship Sarah I visited Haifa and Tel Aviv as part of a Mediterranean tour.
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. The Jewish merchant marine was also raised, operating SS Tel-Aviv and cargo ships such as Atid.
In 1942, eleven hundred 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 whom was Edmond Wilhelm Brillant and the other Zvi Avidror. 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 Haganah.
During the last months of British Mandate in Palestine, the former Royal Navy volunteers started work 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 Independence.
At the outset of the 1948 war and with the founding of the IDF, the Israeli Navy consisted of four former Aliyah Bet ships impounded in Haifa harbor. These ships were refurbished by a newly formed naval repair facility with the assistance of two private shipbuilding and repair companies. In October 1948, a submarine chaser was purchased from the United States. 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 Italian, while Palyam personnel were commanding the ship under instructions from the Haganah. Ike Aharonowitch, captain of 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 United States Navy and Royal Navy, such as Commander Paul Shulman of the U.S. Navy, 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.
During the war, the warships served on coastal patrol duties and bombarded Arab targets on land, including Egyptian coastal installations in and around the Gaza area all the way to Port Said. The Israeli Navy also engaged the Egyptian Navy at sea during Operation Yoav, and the Egyptian Navy's flagship, Emir Farouk, was sunk in an operation by Israeli naval commandos.
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 U.S. Navy 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".
Royal Navy Captain Ashe Lincoln, who was Jewish, advised Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion to purchase corvettes, frigates, destroyers, torpedo boats, and patrol boats to build up the Israeli Navy power. To that end, he urged Ben-Gurion to consult with professional navy advisers. This resulted in instructions to contact U.S. Navy advisors, mainly Commander Paul Shulman from the U.S. Navy.
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 jockeyed for power. Palyam politics blocked the nomination of Paul Shulman (a Jewish U.S. Navy officer with a rank of Commander who volunteered for 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.
Yom Kippur War
In the most significant engagement in its history, during the Yom Kippur War five Israeli Navy missile boats sank five Syrian ships without losses during the Battle of Latakia. As a result, the Syrian Navy remained in port for the remainder of the conflict. It was the first naval battle in history between surface-to-surface missile-equipped missile boats.
- The emblem of the Haifa naval base is two arrows – one signifying the Missile Boats Flotilla and the other the Submarine Flotilla.
- Atlit – home to Shayetet 13, the navy's elite commando unit.
- Ashdod – mainly a base for Patrol Boats Squadron 916.
- The emblem of the Ashdod naval base is two opposing arrows.
- 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 in accordance with the Egyptian–Israeli peace treaty.
- The emblem of the 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 naval training base also functions as the Israeli Naval Academy.
- The emblem of the Haifa training base is an owl, symbolizing wisdom and hard learning.
- Mamtam – IT, processing 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.
Based in Haifa, Eilat, and Ashdod respectively, Squadrons 914, 915, and 916 defend Israel's shores from nearby.
- Constant patrols in the seas of Israel.
- Identification of watercraft entering Israeli waters.
- Preventing smuggling through the sea
- Protecting national assets, such as drilling rigs.
- Various operations carried out alone, or with other units in and outside of the navy.
- Various other objectives that differ between the squadrons.
- Protecting Israeli commerce at sea from foreign fleets.
- Preventing a possible naval blockade of Israeli ports during wartime.
- Blockading enemy ports at wartime.
- Fire support for ground units.
The Submarine Flotilla, a volunteer unit founded in 1959.
- Attacking enemy vessels.
- Covert intelligence gathering.
- Deployment and recovery of Shayetet 13 naval commandos.
- Acting as a support unit for other units.
- Believed to be part of the country's nuclear weapons capability.
Shayetet 13, or Flotilla 13, is an elite naval commando unit which specializes in sea-to-land incursions, counter-terrorism, sabotage operations, maritime intelligence gathering, maritime hostage rescue, and boarding. It is among the most highly trained and secretive units in the Israeli military.
Salvage and underwater works unit. Formed as the damage control branch of the Navy Shipyards, the unit later incorporated experienced Flotilla-13 divers.
Force protection and harbour security unit. Also in charge of diving checkups of civilian ships entering Israeli harbours.
The Corps' relies on its Naval Intelligence Division for naval intelligence.
|U.S. built class|
|Sa'ar 4.5||INS Romach, pronounced [ʁomaχ] (Lance)
INS Keshet (Bow)
INS Hetz, pronounced [ˈχet͡s] (Arrow)
INS Kidon (Javelin)
INS Tarshish (Tarshish)
INS Yaffo (Jaffa)
|Dolphin class||INS Dolphin (Dolphin)
INS Livyathan (Whale)
INS Tekumah (Revival)
|German built submarines|
|AIP Dolphin 2 class||INS Tanin (Crocodile)
INS Drakon (Dragon)
|German built; INS Dakar was on ordered 21 March 2012 and its expected operational date 2019|
|Class||Photo||Number of ships||Commissioned||Origin||Notes|
|Super Dvora Mk II||4||1996|
|Super Dvora Mk III||13||2004|
|Rafael Protector USV||2000s||Unmanned Naval Patrol Vehicles|
|Silver Marlin||2006?||USV Naval Patrol Vehicles|
- Dolphin type underwater craft
- Maiale (pig) type underwater craft
- Snunit boats
- Zaharon boats
- Moulit boats
- Morena rigid-hulled inflatable boats
Aircraft operated by the Israeli Navy, even when including on-board Navy mission specialists, are flown and maintained by Israeli Air Force personnel and are part of the air force command structure.
Unmanned aerial vehicles
- Barak 1 – Point-defence SAM
- Barak 8 – Long range SAM and anti-missile defence system
- Gabriel – sea-to-sea missile
- Harpoon – anti-ship missile
- Popeye (AGM-142 Have Nap) – air/sub-launched cruise missile. Dolphin-class submarines believed to carry Popeye Turbo with a range >1500 km and the option for nuclear warheads.
- Typhoon Weapon Station – remote-operated 25mm gun system
- 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
The contract for the sixth and final Dolphin-class submarine is expected to be operational by 2017. ThyssenKrupp will also build four Sa'ar patrol vessels for EEZ duties such as protecting offshore gas fields. The ships will be based on the MEKO A-100 design like Germany's Braunschweig-class corvettes, suggesting they will be 90 m (295 ft) long and displace around 1,800 tonnes, named Sa'ar 6-class corvette. This deal was signed in December 2014 and Germany is believed to be contributing up to €115m of the €1 billion cost. Previously Israel had hoped to acquire an up-armed version of the Freedom class of littoral combat ships from Lockheed Martin, but spiralling costs had made this impossible, along with a fallback option from Northrop Grumman/Huntington Ingalls Industries which built the Sa'ar 5 class.
|OF-10||OF-9||OF-8||OF-7||OF-6||OF-5||OF-4||OF-3||OF-2||OF-1||OF(D) & Student officer|
|Superior Academic Officer
(קצין אקדמי בכיר)
|Professional Academic Officer|
(קצין מקצועי אקדמי)
|No equivalent||No insignia||No equivalent|
|Chief warrant officer
|Command Sergeant Major
(רב-סמל בכיר (רס"ב
(רב-סמל מתקדם (רס"מ
(רב-סמל ראשון (רס"ר
|Sergeant First Class
(סמל ראשון (סמ"ר
(רב טוראי (רב"ט
Sleeve rank of Israeli Navy Commander-in-Chief is a rank of honor. This began as special permission from Lt. General Amnon Lipkin-Shahak (then chief of staff of the IDF) and allows the Navy Commander-in-Chief to have a sleeve rank of Vice Admiral which is equal to Lt. General, the rank of the IDF Chief of Staff. However the de facto rank of Israeli Navy Commander-in-Chief is Rear Admiral and the gesture given to the navy is ceremonial only when meeting foreign commanding officers.
The same resolution as mentioned above applies to the rank of Commodore. There is ceremonial-only sleeve rank of Rear–Admiral while by the IDF hierarchy and chain of command he remains a commodore.
List of commanders
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- "Israel seeks sixth Dolphin in light of Iranian 'threat'". Janes.com. 1 October 2009. Retrieved 1 June 2010.
- "IDF submarine fleet bans dual citizenship". ynet. Retrieved 29 June 2015.
- "Ship Naming in the United States Navy". About.com. Archived from the original on 21 August 2014. Retrieved 21 August 2014.
- John Pike. "Navy Equipment - Israel". Retrieved 29 June 2015.
- The Military Balance 2017, International Institute for Strategic Studies, 14 February 2017, p. 384.
- "חדשות - צבא וביטחון nrg - ...נושאת מזל"טים: חיל הים כובש". Retrieved 29 June 2015.
- "דף בית | Israel Defense". www.israeldefense.co.il. Retrieved 26 September 2019.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 21 October 2013. Retrieved 25 December 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "IAI seeks foreign investors to develop new missile warship". Archived from the original on 1 July 2015. Retrieved 29 June 2015.
- Opall-Rome, Barbara (25 December 2014). "Israel, Germany Seal Offshore Patrol Vessel Deal". Defense News.
- Hudson, Alexandra (15 December 2015). "Germany says will help finance four new Israeli warships". Reuters.
- "IDF Ranks". IDF Spoke Man. 2009. Archived from the original on 30 August 2009. Retrieved 3 December 2009.
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