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Israeli, US Navies Complete 'Reliant Mermaid' Drill

The Israeli and US Navies have completed a joint maritime safety drill once held together each year with Turkey.
By Chana Ya'ar
First Publish: 8/19/2012, 3:44 PM

Helicopter flies over the Mediterranean near Turkey
Helicopter flies over the Mediterranean near Turkey
Reuters

The Israeli and US Navies have completed the joint maritime safety drill once held together each year with Turkey.

The drill, called the “Reliant Mermaid,” is aimed at improving search and rescue maneuvers as well as zeroing in on other relevant issues in the Mediterranean Sea.

It involves helicopter landings on aircraft carriers, and some of the exercises include live fire as well.

This year's drill ended late last week, said a spokesperson for the U.S. Navy, but it was scheduled months ago and is not associated with current events taking place in the Mediterranean.

Turkey is no longer a partner in the joint drill, having withdrawn its participation when diplomatic relations with Israel broke down.

Ankara expelled the Israeli ambassador from Turkey following the 2010 flotilla incident in which nine terror activists died in an attack on IDF commandos. A third-tier charges d'affaires is all that is left to represent Israel at its embassy to this day.

The incident occurred after the Turkish-owned Mavi Marmara vessel ignored an Israeli Navy request to direct its course to Ashdod port. The ship was one of six in a humanitarian aid flotilla aimed at illegally breaching Israel's maritime blockade of Gaza.

When the flotilla instead proceeded towards Gaza, IDF Navy commandos boarded each ship in order to take control and direct them to the Israeli port. Aboard the Mavi Marmara, an armed group of terror activists awaited, and attacked the IDF soldiers as they boarded. In the ensuing clash, Israeli soldiers were badly wounded, and nine of the terrorists died.

The incident led to further deterioration in relations that were already badly strained between the two nations. The two allies have remained at a diplomatic arms' length since that time, although business and cultural ties are stil relatively strong.