Three 1,925 ton Type 800 Dolphin class submarines have been built in German shipyards for the Israel Navy, with an additional two ordered in mid-2006 for delivery starting in 2010. Modern submarines with the most advanced sailing and combat systems in the world, they combine extensive sophistication with very easy operation. The purpose of these submarines is to enable the Israel Navy to meet all the tasks faced in the Mediterranean Sea in the 21st century. The submarines cost $320 million each, and are twice as big as the aging Gal-class submarines that the Israeli navy has relied on to date.
As early as 1984 the IN started with the "Concept design" involving the Dutch Wilton - Fejnord and the German IKL companies and later in 1986 the preliminary design had started. At those early stages the Navy had the "SAAR 5" program running in parallel and the main activity on the submarine subject was executed both in Germany (IKL, Lübek) concerning the platform and US (Rockwell, California) as for the combat systems. The ambitious modernization program of the Navy urgently needs a creative solution, which would enable the US funds and still select a capable and experienced shipyard in the conventional submarines.
Heavy pressure of the IDF combined with budgetary burden led Defense Minister Arens, on November 30th '90, to a regretful and unfortunate decision to terminate the submarine contract. In spite of several Ministers resistance to Arens' termination of the program, PM Shamir except the rule and make it final... but not for long.
On January 15th 1991 the Gulf War broke out and the next day Israel experienced for the first time the long distance ballistic missiles attack on its civilian population. An Israeli delegation is sent to Germany and late at night on January 30th Chancellor Kohl approves an assistance package including the construction of two Dolphin submarines. The project is again on its way and the contract is rewritten and signed on April '91.
The "Dolphin" class Submarine hull configuration is the traditionally "Single Hull" Submarine. The line design is optimized to get low resistance and to avoid flow Noise. Closing all the openings that are not in use permanently also eliminates flow noise, achieving the effect of "Closed Hull". The pressure hull of "Dolphin" is made out of the well known and proven steel for submarine with high strength and elasticity - HY 80.
The sonar consists of Low Frequency Sonar (LOFAR) with the Flank-Array mounted on the hull on both sides. It is also includes the Cylindrical Array (CA) in the bow, which complementary to the acoustic detection in medium frequencies and ranges. The Passive Ranging Sonar (PRS) consist of three antennas on each side of the submarine casing, helps allocate targets in the medium and short ranges. The Intercept Antenna (IA), installed on the casing, would detect and analyze any kind of acoustic transmission and would give sufficient alert on threats which might endanger the submarine.
Two Kollmorgen periscopes are installed in the "Dolphin". The search one is a special development for the IN equipped with IR capabilities, ESM directional antenna, optic & video, and communication antenna. Both periscopes are penetrating the hull. The attack one is obviously thinner to enable better undetected final approach. The stabilized picture improves somewhat the magnification.
On-board the "Dolphin" an Israeli "Elbit" Elint system is installed, expected to give full picture of all threatening emitters within few seconds after the antenna breach out the water. Signals can be received either via the periscope or the horn antenna, which is combined with the secondary communication mast.
The 10 Multi Purpose tubes are installed forward, penetrating the forward dome. These tubes are design to 21-inch diameter weapons. The weapons may be Swim-Out or ejected by hydraulic piston. Quick reloading is possible with the Embarkation and Storage System, which is installed behind the tubes.
The submarine has the capacity to carry anti-ship missiles, mines, decoys and STN Atlas wire-guided DM2A3 torpedoes. The surface-to-surface missiles may include the submarine-launched Harpoon which delivers a 227 kilogram warhead to a range of 130 kilometres at high subsonic speed. It is generally agreed that these submarines are outfitted with six 533-millimeter torpedo tubes suitable for the 21-inch torpedoes that are normally used on most submarines, including those of the United States.
Some reports suggest that the submarines have a total of ten torpedo tubes -- six 533-millimeter and four 650-millimeter. Uniquely, the Soviet navy deployed the Type 65 heavy-weight torpedo using a 650-millimeter tube. The four larger 25.5 inch diameter torpedo tubes could be used to launch a long-range nuclear-capable submarine-launched cruise missile (SLCM). According to some reports the submarines may be capable of carrying nuclear-armed Popeye Turbo cruise missiles, with a goal of deterring an enemy from trying to take out its nuclear weapons with a surprise attack.
Under a system of rotation, some sources claim that two of the vessels would remain at sea: one in the Red Sea and Persian Gulf, the other in the Mediterranean. A third would remain on standby.
The project initially was structured to include an industrial team consisting of HDW and Thyssen Nordseewerke, lead by Ingalls Shipbuilding. The project, under which the boats would be built in the United States by Ingalls using US FMS funds, was cancelled in 1990. The crews of the submarines started training in 1994, and participated in the building process as well as in the acceptance procedures for weapon systems. Germany donated two of these submarines to Israel, which were delivered in 1997. Israel bought a third Dolphin submarine from Germany. The project to build the Israeli Navy's third submarine, named "Tekumah ," was launched in Germany on 09 July 1998 with the participation of Defense Ministry Director General Ilan Biran and other naval officers. Tekumah [T'kuma] is the Hebrew word for "revival." The third submarine arrived in Israel during mid-1999.
A major role for hunter, killer and patrol submarines is the destruction of enemy submarines and shipping. In order to achieve this, the submarine must load, store and launch a range of stores. The submarine must also detect its target while attempting to remain covert. The Israel Navy has three Gal submarines. They were built in the 1970s at the Vickers shipyard in Britain, based on German blueprints. The Gal submarines are an important part of the main combat force of the Israel Navy.
The German Type 209 diesel electric submarine is the most popular export-sales submarine in the world, and sales continue as smaller nations modernize their aging fleets. Greece was the first country to order this type of submarine from Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft AG (HDW) of Kiel, Germany, and the first batch of these submarines entered service in 1971. The 1,200-ton Type 209 submarine is a hunter killer submarine that India purchased from HDW, Germany. The initial contract was for 2 submarines to be sold and for 4 more to be constructed at the Mazagaon docks in Mumbai. The deal however went sour when it was hit by a bribery scandal, after the first four ships were delivered to the Indian Navy.
Advances in electric drive and power conditioning were introduced into the German Type 212. This German submarine has low and balanced signatures including acoustic signatures, longer submerged mission capability and a modern combat system with sophisticated sensors and state of the art torpedoes. The technologies inherent in this design include a fuel cell air independent propulsion (AIP) system with a back up single diesel generator, highly modular arrangements of critical areas and the frame carrying the diesel generator and auxiliary equipment such as the hydraulic pumps, compressors, etc.- is enclosed in a sound absorbent capsule and isolated from the pressure hull. The AIP system utilized is more commonly called 'MESMA'. Translated it means Autonomous Submarine Energy Module and was developed for submarines.
The 1,720-ton Dolphin class is evidently somewhat larger than the 1,500-ton Type 212 submarines, and incorporates a conventional diesel-electric propulsion system rather than the AIP system.
The detection that the submarines were equipped with two types of torpedo tubes (533mm and 650mm respectively) fueled speculation that the submarine might have a possible nuclear role, given that 533mm torpedo tubes would have been sufficient for the weaponry that was to be installed on board.
When questioned about this in parliament, the German government confirmed the presence of the 650mm tubes in the Dolphin submarines but could not provide an explanation, other than that the tubes were to be fitted with liners upon delivery to reduce the tubes' diameters to 533mm. Because 50% of design rights are reported to belong to Israel, and, as a result it had no 'design authority', the German government claimed that it could not have any knowledge of the larger tubes' purpose.
An article published by the Los Angeles Times in mid-October 2003, indicated that Israel had successfully modified American-supplied Harpoon cruise missiles for use with nuclear warheads on its submarines. The process would have involved reducing the size of the warheads to fit inside the missiles as well as altering the guidance systems so as to be able to hit land-based targets, but would enable Israel to deliver nuclear weapons from the sea virtually unimpedded. The claim was however disputed by Israeli and others who questioned the ability of the Harpoon missile to carry a nuclear payload.
As of early November 2003, it was reported by the German newspaper Berliner Zeitung, that Germany`s leading shipyard company HDW was involved in negotiations with Israel to construct two additional Dolphin submarines. HDW confirmed these conversations, which were said to be of a purely technical nature and claimed the German government had approved them. It was also reported that Israeli engineers had modified the missile launching pads of earlier Dolphin submarines at the Kiel's HDW dockyard, possibly to accomodate nuclear warheads.
The German Focus magazine reported on November 24, 2003, that the German government had halted the delivery of the two submarines to Israel. It was later clarified that while Israel did have an interest in additional submarines, given the financial burden associated with such a deal for Israel, Washington or Germany, only technical negotiations were being conducted with HDW, and that as a result, neither a formal nor preliminary request for any export license had been issued. The German Green party, however, who had originally opposed the delivery of the first three dolphin submarines, demanded that, in the future, additional submarines could only be delivered to Israel on the basis of a binding assurance that they would not be used as nuclear weapons platforms.
In late August 2006, Germany confirmed the sale of two additional Dolphin submarines to Israel for approximately 1 billion euros, with the German government footing one-third of the submarines' construction costs from its household budget. The contract signing between Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft (HDW) and Israeli authorities for these submarines was reported to have taken place on July 6, 2006. Delivery of the two new Dolphin submarines was expected to take place in 2010.
On Sep 30, 2009 it was reported that Israel had taken delivery of two German-made submarines capable of launching missiles with nuclear warheads. "We have received two Dolphin-class submarines built from Germany," Israel and Arab media reported quoting an anonymous Israeli military spokesman. The submarines were ordered in 2005, and delivery was originally scheduled for 2010. With the latest delivery, Israel held five state-of-the-art U212s.
One of the subs delivered by the German government is permanently on station in the Persian Gulf, and Israeli media have said that the fleet of five vessels could be key in any decision by Israel to launch an attack on Iranian targets from the sea. An Israeli submarine used the Suez Canal for the first time in June 2009, anchoring in the Red Sea in a journey that would have normally required the Israeli vessel to travel around the coast of Africa. Escorted by Israeli navy vessels, the move was intended to send a message to Iran. An Israeli submarine would not have been able to sail through the Suez Canal without Egypt knowing about it and granting permission. The Canal's water is shallow and boasts lively vessel traffic that would endanger a submarine, even if it sailed at minimal depth below sea level.
The Defense Ministry initiated talks with Germany in 2011 about buying a sixth submarine but Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government balked when Israel asked that it underwrite part of the cost. In late November 2011, however, Germany announced that it had approved the deal and that it would pay for part of the vessel.
In April 2012 the Minister of Defense, Lieutenant General (res.) Ehud Barak signed a construction and supply contract for a new and improved submarine scheduled to arrive in Israel during 2017 [other reports suggest it may come as late as 2019]. It would be the sixth submarine, following the fifth that will arrive in 2015 and the fourth that was launched in 2012.
In May 2012, the IDF launched the INS Tanin at an official ceremony in Germany, where the submarine was built. The submarine, titled the Tanin (Crocodile), was inaugurated by Israeli and German officials, who broke a bottle of champagne on the submarine’s outer hull. It was officially handed over to the Ministry of Defense and the Israeli Navy following the acquisition and development process led by the Ministry of Defense and the Israeli Navy. Representatives of the Ministry of Defense and the IDF Navy attended the event.
"The submarine will amplify the capabilities of the IDF and the State of Israel's strength," Lieutenant General (res.) Ehud Barak, Israel's Minister of Defense, said during a press conference in 2012 during the initial purchase of the vessels from Germany at a cost of $1.27 billion. "The Navy has undergone strategic changes over the past few years that place it at the forefront of the battle over the safety of Israel, as the long arm of the IDF. The agreement reflects the strong relations with Germany and the German government's commitment to Israeli security."
The Chief of the General Staff, Lieutenant General Benny Gantz thanked the IDF and Ministry of Defense personnel while stressing the strategic importance of the submarines flotilla: “the Navy and the submarines flotilla, together with the other branches of the IDF are strategic components that deter, protect, and fight for the IDF and Israel. They will continue their efforts to ensure the safety of the citizens of Israel. ”
Israel’s powerful INS Tanin (Crocodile) submarine departed September 9, 2014 from Germany to the Haifa port. The vessel’s crew had been training in the Baltic Sea and the North Sea. The Tanin, the fourth submarine in Israel's Dolphin fleet, is a slightly larger new Dolphin 2 design, measuring 225 feet long with a 22 foot beam and 20 foot draft. Fitted with an advanced air-independent propulsion system, three diesel-electric motors generate 4,243 shp total, giving the Tanin a top speed of 25 knots underwater. A compliment of 35 crewmen is needed to operate the vessel.
Israel received its fifth Dolphin-class submarine, the INS Rahav, in an official ceremony 29 April 2013 in Kiel, Germany. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu welcomed the announcement, calling the submarines “a strong, strategic tool for the IDF.” “The State of Israel,” said the prime minister, “is ready to act anytime, anywhere – on land, sea and air – in order to ensure the security of Israel’s citizens.”
In April 2015 Germany's Federal Security Council approved the export of the fifth submarine to Israel. It's the penultimate submarine promised to Israel by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and would be handed over by the company Thyssen Krupp. The Dolphin-class submarine INS Rahav, set out for Haifa from the German port of Kiel on 17 December 2015, according to a senior naval official. Rahav is the Hebrew name for the Greek god of the seas, Neptune, and has been used for other naval ships in the past, but it can also mean arrogance in modern Hebrew.
The new submarines are based at a specialized dock built by the navy at Haifa, which allows the advanced submarines to be kept separately, covertly, and in a convenient manner. The dock allows for flexibility, and enables the submarines to be on call 24 hours a day.
On October 15, 2015, the submarine delivery ceremony was held and the replacement of flag, the flag of Germany to the flag of Israel. Until it left Germany to Israel, the INS Rahav underwent an operational certification process that included a series of tactical and technical training in the North Sea, at the end of which on December 17, 2015 the INS Rahav left for the coast of Israel. The submarine is named INS Rahav, the second submarine of the Navy and the State of Israel, an "S" type submarine which arrived in Israel in 1960 from England.
The submarine 'INS Rahav" submarine first docked at the naval base in Haifa on 11 January 206. The submarine was accompanied by other submarines, missile boats, ships of ongoing security and other sailing vessels of the naval commando. At the end of the sailing, the submarine entered the base in Haifa, where a ceremony was held in the presence of President Reuven (Ruvy) Rivlin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe (Bogie) Ya'alon, Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, the Navy commander, Gen. Ram Rothberg and navy officials.
The arrival of Israel's newest submarine, the INS Rahav, sends a message of deterrence to Israel's enemies and of strength and security to Israel's citizens, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, hinting at a possible Israeli second strike capability. "Our submarine fleet will act as a deterrent to our enemies who want to destroy us. They will not achieve their aim. They need to know that Israel is capable of striking with very great strength at all those who would harm it," he said, noting the submarines may be able to respond to a nuclear attack on Israel.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: "... the citizens of Israel should know that Israel is very strong, we are doing and will do everything to protect you, anytime, in any scene - in the kinetic world and the cybernetic world - with an array of cyber we build. In the air, and above the air, in space. On the ground and below the ground, facing the threat of tunnels, in the sea and under the sea - with submarines."
Navy Commander Ram Rothberg said in January 2016 that the submarine which Israel will take in 2019 will be called the INS Dakar named after the Israeli submarine that sank in 1968. "The new and the most sophisticated submarine under the name INS Dakar will be a living legacy, dynamic, bold and victorious. Dakar will be a living, daily memorial of the names, the faces of people who were imbued with the spirit of mission, volunteerism and responsibility to arrive in Haifa, and to fight from the depths for Israel".
According to an October 2016 report by the Israeli newspaper Maariv, tIsrael was preparing to purchase three further Dolphin-class submarines from Germany at a total cost of $1.3 billion. This purchase would be in addition to its existing contract for six German submarines, the last of which is due for delivery in 2019. The new submarines are said to be more advanced, longer and equipped with better accessories, the newspaper report said. The three new submarines, capable of launching nuclear missiles, would replace the oldest vessels in its fleet, some of which had been in service since 1999.
Israel had no intention of enlarging its fleet of submarines from six to nine, but to gradually replace aging submarines with new ones. The life span of a submarine is 20-30 years. Over the following decade, the three oldest submarines in the Dolphin fleet would become obsolete, and would be replaced gradually by the new submarines.
But critics, some of whom are within the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), believe the money spent on the submarines should have been earmarked for more urgent needs. “The first Dolphin submarine will begin to become obsolete only in 2030,” an Israeli security source told Al-Monitor on the condition of anonymity. “Until then, it’s not certain that we will need such a large quantity of submarines. The current commitment to pay billions of shekels in a huge deal for products that may not be absolutely necessary is rather strange, to say the least.” Critics of the transaction feel that the monies should have been used to upgrade the IDF in more important spheres. “The submarines are not effective in the war against terror.”
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