Oren Tamsut, 21, from Kiryat Shmona, is about to become a lieutenant on an Israel Navy missile ship and play a crucial role in Israel’s maritime military capabilities. He has just completed a grueling naval officer course over the course of two years and four months, and is set to take his place as a senior officer on the navy’s Tarsis missile ship.

“I was first exposed to sailing when I attended a naval high school academy,” Tamsut told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday. “I dreamt of joining the navy’s officer course.”

At first, it looked as if Tamsut’s dream would not come true after the IDF assigned him to the elite General Staff Reconnaissance Unit (Sayeret Matkal).

But Tamsut quickly requested a transfer, and the IDF acquiesced. He joined a tough week-long trial period before the course.

“We were under pressure. There was no time for anything. We had to pass tests and learn new material we had never dealt with before,” Tamsut recounted.

The would-be cadets faced the full grilling. Those who passed, like Tamsut, began a four-stage training plan.

“Each phase got progressively more challenging,” Tamsut said. “In the first stage, we studied basic seamanship, how to control sailboats and small engine-powered craft. Physically, this was the most intense phase,” he added.

At sea, the cadets spent long periods in swimming courses, while on land, they ran long distances carrying heavy weights. Sleep was scarce.

“We could only call home once a week, from a payphone. Support from home was important,” Tamsut said. His parents made the 470-kilometer journey from Kiryat Shmona in the far-north to Eilat to visit him.

In the second stage, Tamsut was shown how to carry out maneuvers in more advanced vessels, before moving onto the third stage, which involved operating the Dvora – a fast patrol boat used by the navy for continuous security missions.

The patrol boats guard against terrorist infiltrations and weapons smuggling.

In the final stage, Tamsut completed a BA at Haifa University over eight months. He studied business management, psychology and politics.

“Officers should have a wide horizon in order to be good commanders,” Tamsut said.

Now, he has taken up an operational role on a navy missile ship, the Tarsis, a large warship filled with advanced electronic warfare means. It is one of 10 missile ships in its class.

“The missile ships increase Israel’s reach,” Tamsut said. He will serve on the ship as a professional soldier for the next four-and-a-half years.

Also on Tuesday, Israel Navy chief Adm. Ram Rothberg explained that “the navy has in recent years turned into a strategic corps that guards strategic assets, and secures freedom of sea travel, a safe coast and an open sea.”

He added, “I’d like to tell all navy sailors in the missile ships, submarines, Dvora ships and the naval commando that we will continue to...defend the country. This is the home we protect.”

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