Israel's Navy remains on high alert amid coronavirus

"We, as an army and as the navy, will be one of the last to say that we moved beyond coronavirus."

Israeli naval carrier (photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
Israeli naval carrier
The Israel Navy is not thinking about the day after the coronavirus, rather making sure that its troops are able to protect the country’s maritime border and shipping routes.
“Everyone wonders what will happen after corona, but for us it's different. We, as an army and as the navy, will be one of the last to say we are after corona,” Lt. Col. Guy Barak, commander of the 34th Squadron told The Jerusalem Post. “We are building a plan as we understand that the reality of corona can last for months.”
“While some civilian businesses are reopening, we are not yet there. It could be that there’s another spike in cases,” Barak said.
Like the rest of the military, the navy has been preparing strategies to cope as it gears up to face the coronavirus pandemic for months to come. While Israel’s navy is relatively small compared to other IDF corps, it has a significant amount of territory to protect – including the country’s vital shipping lanes and gas rigs.
“The sea is our life, 90% of goods imported into Israel come by sea and now that the economy is in crisis – we saw it with the scramble to supermarkets and the lack of eggs – we have to keep this lifeline open and secure,” Barak said. “This is our mission, with or without corona.”
According to Barak, early on in the crisis the Navy ordered several submarines and combat vessels to deploy at sea, with the aim of maintaining operational readiness. And should someone start showing symptoms of the virus there are dedicated sections on board every ship where they can be quarantined before being evacuated ashore.

There is a place on every ship where, if someone were to start showing symptoms, they can be quarantined before being evacuated ashore.
“The sea is our natural environment, it’s part of our DNA. In civilian life you might call it quarantine, but we look at it as being independent and self-sufficient,” he said.
Barak told the Post that every ship acts as its own “capsule system” where only troops from that ship are allowed on. All food and equipment needed on the ship is brought to the beginning of the ship’s dock and troops bring it back to the ship. All troops entering the ship must wash their hands and the ship itself is cleaned several times a day.
Despite the pandemic, the navy, along with the rest of the military, has continued with drills and its regular operational activity.
“Coronavirus caught us, like the rest of Israel, totally unexpectedly. And the first thing we thought about was our responsibility to always be ready for any threat,” Barak said. “We said that no matter what happens in the rest of the country, the navy and IDF will never find itself in a position where we are not ready. We cannot allow our operational readiness to be affected.”