Israel’s fourth submarine, currently en route to the navy’s Haifa base from Germany, will use air independent propulsion technology to stay submerged for longer than older Dolphin-class vessels, a senior naval source said Sunday.
“Despite being conventional, its propulsion system allows the INS Tanin to stay underwater for many days, making it more covert,” the source said. “The fuel cells on board this submarine significantly extend its ability to be underwater without the need to resurface.”
A fifth submarine, the INS Rahav, is expected to arrive at Haifa Port later this year, and a sixth submarine will join the fleet by the end of the current decade, the officer said.
There are some 50 submarine personnel on board the INS Tanin, which left Germany several days ago on a journey spanning more than 7,500 kilometers.
“It’s underwater for most of its journey because of this unique ability to stay submerged for so long,” the source said. The submarine is traveling through the North Atlantic, south through the Gilbraltar Straits, and then across the Mediterranean Sea to Israel on a journey lasting some 20 days.
“In Germany, it underwent a process to make it fully operational,” the source said. The submarine will stop 270 miles from Haifa where the INS Dakar sank to the sea floor in 1968, and hold a memorial ceremony with other navy vessels.
It will carry a variety of weapons systems on board, the source said, without providing further details.
The INS Tanin is set to arrive at a specialized dock built by the navy at Haifa, which allows for the advanced submarines to be kept separately, secretly and in a convenient manner. The dock allows for flexibility, and enables the submarines to be on call 24 hours a day.
The new submarines will bring with them many unique capabilities, such as lengthy intelligence gathering.
Lt.-Cmdr. Y., who was commander of the navy’s submarine school until his retirement last week, told The Jerusalem Post last week: “Submarines bring a level of intelligence to Israel that cannot be achieved by other units.”
“Drones that fly in the air can be shot down,” he said.
“But a submarine can stay in enemy territory for weeks, and no one knows it’s there. It can lurk off coastal regions without any problem at all. The level of intelligence this brings is not heard about by the public. All of our operations build on past operations.”