Gas rig in the Mediterranean
Gas rig in the MediterraneanIsrael news photo: Flash 90

Israeli, Greek and US warships began a joint two-week Mediterranean naval exercise on Thursday, IDF spokespeople revealed. The exercise has been codenamed “Noble Dina.”

The drill will test a variety of skills, including navigation, search and rescue, fast response to naval crisis situations, medical evacuation and more.

According to AFP, there are reports that the exercise was designed in part to practice defending offshore gas rigs. In recent years Israel has discovered huge gas fields off the Mediterranean shore.

Lebanon has laid claim to at least one of the finds and has warned that it will go to war to defend its claim.

Israel and the United States formerly held regular joint naval drills with Turkey. The drills ended when Turkey cut ties with Israel in 2011 over the Mavi Marmara incident, in which IDF soldiers opened fire on Turkish activists who violently attacked them in an attempt to enter Gaza despite a naval blockade on the region.

As Israel’s ties with Turkey began to founder, relations with Greece began to grow warmer. Israel has also upgraded ties with Greek ally Cyprus over the development of its newfound gas fields.