Israel Joins Turkey and US in Naval Drill, Reliant Mermaid 10
Israel will join the United States and Turkey for joint naval maneuvers in the eastern Mediterranean next week in what has become an annual exercise.
Ankara and Jerusalem signed a military cooperation agreement in 1996.
The drill, which will take place August 17-21 off the coast of Turkey, is intended as a search and rescue (SAR) exercise to test the cooperation and coordination skills of all three forces. Turkey has also hosted the maneuvers in previous years.
Israel will contribute three ships and a helicopter to the maneuver, dubbed "Reliant Mermaid 10." A total of eight ships, four helicopters and three search and rescue aircraft will be involved in the drill.
"By enhancing their interoperability, cooperation and coordination level during the exercise, elements of the three naval and air forces will be able to respond more efficiently and rapidly to potential maritime emergencies, as well as to humanitarian assistances in the future," explained the IDF Spokesman in a statement.
The first "Reliant Mermaid" trilateral exercise conducted by Turkey, Israel and the U.S. was held on January 7, 1998, off the coast of Israel. Since that time, Reliant Mermaid drills have been carried out by the three nations periodically, always in the Mediterranean.
In December 2001, the training maneuvers were suddenly transformed into a live mission, when an oil rig platform broke free in a storm at sea and was swept adrift some 30 miles off Israel's coast. Participants in then-Reliant Mermaid 4 responded on the spot, rescuing 84 oil rig workers from the platform and preventing an actual disaster.
The exercises are seen as a visible symbol of the strategic partnership between Ankara and Jerusalem, which has endured despite spats between the two countries over other issues.