Preparing for Persian Gulf?
Navy Commandos in Largest Drill in Decade

Soldiers simulate neutralization of enemy force at sea, ship malfunctions, evacuation of casualties by helicopter.

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Gil Ronen,

Naval exercise
Naval exercise
Photo: IDF

Israel Navy commando forces carried out their largest drill in a decade last week. Soldiers of the elite Shayetet 13 and the 916 Detachment, together with the Snapir port security unit and the Israel Air Force, practiced "operational scenarios that could arise at any moment," reported Yohanan Levin in the Israel Navy Website.

The senior leadership of the Detachment attended the exercise, in which soldiers simulated a number of scenarios. These included neutralization of an enemy force at sea, ship malfunctions, and evacuation of an injured soldier by helicopter – all carried out within severe time restraints. The exercise was overseen by Base Commander Col. Dror Friedman, who evaluated the soldiers' preparedness for such incidents.

As part of the exercise, a helicopter simulated the evacuation of a person injured at sea. The casualty was quickly and efficiently transported. "The crew acted rapidly and maintained a high level of professionalism," said Lt. Amir, a ship commander.

After this drill, the ships received envelopes with different scenarios simulating ship malfunctions. One such scenario involved a fire in the engine room, which required the crew to abandon ship and escape in lifeboats.

At the end of the exercise, the ships were deployed along the length of Israel’s Mediterranean coast, reported the Israel Navy Website. "All of the sailors went on deck to witness a powerful sight that had not been seen in a decade – visual proof of the size and strength of Israel’s navy. Lt. Amir stood with his soldiers on his ship’s deck and looked out on the naval forces. 'We are here to protect the security of the State of Israel,' he remarked. 'The power that the navy has is amazing. To see all of the ships together along Israel’s coasts gives us great pride and assures us that Israel’s civilians can sleep well at night.'"

On their way back to base after the drill, the naval convoy deliberately sailed close to Israel's coastline, in order to imbue Israelis who live near the shore with confidence that a powerful navy is protecting them.

The drill may or may not be connected to preparations for an Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear facilities, which is expected later this year.