Photo Credit: US Navy photo / PO3 Grant G. Grady
John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group is underway in the Mediterranean Sea as part of its deployment in support of maritime security cooperation efforts.

The Naval forces of Israel, the U.S. and Greece have just concluded the three-week Nobel Dina 2019 submarine hunting military exercise in the Mediterranean Sea.

The drill is described by IDF Navy sources as an important training exercise that teaches warfighters to the various challenges of keeping open the maritime routes to Israel.

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Israeli Navy forces operated alongside the INS Keshet and INS Lahav missiles ships, the Sa’ar 5, the Sa’ar 4.5 missile frigates and two INS Tanin Dolphin class submarines, the IDF Spokesperson said in a statement.

In addition, an Israeli C-130 Hercules transport aircraft, Ya’asur combat helicopters with soldiers from the IDF 669 search and rescue unit, AS565 MA Panther (Atalef) helicopters and Shoval drones from the IAF 200th Squadron participated in the drill as well.

The Hellenic Navy assigned two submarines and a warship to the exercise, and the U.S. Navy sent a P-8 Poseidon ASW aircraft.

“The main part was anti-submarine defense,” Lt. Col. Eitan Paz, Commander of the 34th Squadron of the IDF Navy’s Missile Frigate Flotilla, told the Israel Defense news site.

“Such exercises are inherently difficult owing to the aspect of the common language between the participating forces, which in our case necessitated a two-month long preparatory process. The warfighters studied NATO’s international MTP language for joint exercises and practiced the exercise scenarios on simulators. Additionally, the IDF Navy invests in the presentability of the vessels in anticipation of the exercise.

“As long as the operations are not confidential – there is no problem,” Paz explained.

“The problem begins with the encryption. You cannot give any other party one of your own encrypted devices, and they will not give you one of theirs. In exercises that require it, each force will assign a representative to the vessel of the other force, and that representative will have an encrypted device that he will never lose sight of.”

The drill was launched at the NATO Maritime Interdiction Operational Training Center (NMIOTC) at Souda Bay in Crete.

The three navy forces then spent a week in the open sea before arriving at the port of Haifa where further exercises were held.

The fighters also went sightseeing together in Israel, as they did in Greece.

Paz said the third part of the exercise involved all of the forces entering Israel in a simulation of a submarine threat on a port, and its defense.

“The primary objective … is to safeguard a lifeline leading into the country during wartime, mainly by protecting merchant ships. Other objectives include defending the offshore gas rigs against underwater threats,” he said.

“It is important to remember that if a merchant ship is attacked and damaged while entering or leaving an Israeli port, no other merchant ship will go to Israel, as it would have no insurance.

“The State of Israel needs about 8 to 10 merchant ships per day to maintain a normal routine. Any disruption of the merchant shipping will result in economic pressure whose effect would be felt very quickly. That is our mission.”

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.
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