Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Israel's submarines

One of the readers of the Newsroom has asked an interesting question regarding my previous post,"Israel Air Force trained for Iran attack" which quotes Jerusalem Post as saying that in preparation for a possible military strike against Iran, two Israeli missile submarines were on standby: one in the Persian Gulf and the second in Haifa Bay.

He asks:"How did Israel get a sub into the Persian gulf? Why would Israel even have sub's, this makes no sense."

Well, here's a report published in the Observer on October 12, 2003 which is on Israel deploying nuclear arms in its fleet of Dolphin-class submarines. The report mentions that Israel has three submarines, including one that is placed in the Persian Gulf:

Israeli and American officials have admitted collaborating to deploy US-supplied Harpoon cruise missiles armed with nuclear warheads in Israel's fleet of Dolphin-class submarines, giving the Middle East's only nuclear power the ability to strike at any of its Arab neighbor's.

According to Israeli and Bush administration officials interviewed by the Los Angeles Times, the sea-launch capability gives Israel the ability to target Iran more easily should the Iranians develop their own nuclear weapons.

According to reliable estimates, Israel has around 200 nuclear warheads. It acquired the three Dolphin class submarines, which can remain at sea for a month, in the late Nineties. They are equipped with six torpedo tubes suitable for the 21-inch torpedoes that are normally used on most submarines. Israel's seaborne nuclear doctrine is designed to place one submarine in the Persian Gulf, the other in the Mediterranean, with a third on standby. Secret test launches of the cruise missile systems were understood to have been undertaken in May 2000 when Israel carried out tests in the Indian Ocean...

And here's another report on Israel's submarines from GlobalSecurity.org:

Three 1,925 ton Type 800 Dolphin class submarines have been built in German shipyards for the Israel Navy. Modern submarines with the most advanced sailing and combat systems in the world, they combine extensive sophistication with very easy operation. The purpose of these submarines is to enable the Israel Navy to meet all the tasks faced in the Mediterranean Sea in the 21st century. The submarines cost $320 million each, and are twice as big as the aging Gal-class submarines that the Israeli navy has relied on to date.

Under a system of rotation, some sources claim that two of the vessels would remain at sea: one in the Red Sea and Persian Gulf, the other in the Mediterranean. A third would remain on standby.