Israel’s fourth Dolphin-class submarine, INS Tanin , arrived at the Haifa naval base on 23 September, completing an acquisition that has been hailed as a significant boost to the Israel Defense Forces’ (IDF’s) long-range operational capabilities.
Manufactured by Germany’s ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS), Tanin is the first of the Israeli Navy’s three new Dolphin vessels with an air-independent propulsion (AIP) system. The fifth submarine, INS Rahav , is due to arrive in Israel in March or April 2015; the sixth within six years.
Tanin ‘s AIP system allows it to remain submerged for far longer than the three older Dolphin-class vessels, providing it with better ability to operate covertly off the coasts of hostile countries, navy sources said. This gives it an edge in intelligence gathering missions.
The IDF said Tanin had been declared operational earlier in the week and would take up a central role in submarine operations.
Its arrival was formally marked by a ceremony attended by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, and IDF Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Benny Gantz.
Lt Gen Gantz said Tanin would provide Israel with “new combat capabilities alongside higher defence capabilities than what we have had in this past. It and its sister vessels that will join us in the future, alongside existing submarines, will enable the navy to enjoy maximal flexibility, movement between sectors, and give it the ability to operate simultaneously [with other forces].”
Addressing sailors on board Tanin , Vice Admiral Ram Rothberg, the commander of the Israeli Navy, said: “You are the long arm of the IDF: quiet, deadly, and powerful … you will be the first to arrive at the enemy’s strongholds.”
Tanin was officially delivered to the Israeli Navy on 30 June during a ceremony in Germany. It was then made operational in accordance with Israel Navy standards before setting sail for Israel on 28 August with VAdm Rothberg on board, as well as the commander of the submarine fleet, Captain G (full name remains classified). The 7,500 km voyage was mostly spent underwater.
Haifa Naval Base has been fitted with a specialised dock for the Dolphin-AIP submarines, specially designed to facilitate their rapid deployment.