Navy holds drill simulating attack against gas rigs

Civilian merchant ship purchased to simulate enemy vessel on its way to carry out terrorist attack against strategic maritime assets.

Israeli Navy in exercise simulating an attack on Israel’s natural gas platforms
Israel’s Navy held an exercise simulating an attack on Israel’s natural gas platforms on Wednesday, using sea-to-sea missiles to destroy an enemy target.
The drill, which was two and a half months in the making, saw four Navy missile ships destroy a vessel located some 150-200 km. from Israel’s coast which was going to “attack” one of Israel’s gas rigs.
The civilian merchant ship was going to be scrapped before being purchased by the navy for use simulating a hostile vessel. After the boat was located some 100 km. away from the missile ships, with the help of a naval helicopter and other advanced means, the navy ships simultaneously launched Harpoon sea-to-sea missiles towards the target, sinking it.
The military stated that such an exercise had not been conducted for many years and the number of missiles launched from the four ships required both coordination and accuracy.
“I personally do not remember an exercise of this magnitude with live fire for at least the past 20 years,” said a senior naval officer who took part in the drill. “The goal of the training is to maintain the highest professional level of the missile and combat ships.”
In addition to maintaining the troops combat readiness, the drill also demonstrated Israel’s naval superiority.
“Many fleets are deployed in the Mediterranean, and in the northern front there are superpowers like the Russians. In the end of the day, this requires a larger and wider naval presence in Israel’s economic waters,” said a senior officer on Thursday.
According to the senior officer, “the task of protecting the strategic facilities is intensifying,” and the navy is continuously carrying out intelligence gathering operations in both the Mediterranean and the Red Sea as part of Israel’s “war-between-wars” campaign.
Israel is highly dependent on the sea with over 90% of Israel’s imports arriving via ports. While the navy is relatively small compared to other IDF corps, it has to protect some 44,000 km. of sea, almost double the size of Israel.
Israel’s navy has a significant amount of sea to protect since the expansion of the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) from 60 km. to 250 km. four years ago. The navy is also tasked with securing the natural gas drilling rigs that are in Israel’s EEZ, clear targets for enemies on Israel’s northern border including Hezbollah, which is believed to have long-range precision ballistic missiles received from Iran, capable of hit the gas rigs and ships inside the EEZ.
While there is no hermetic protection on the sea, due to the threat posed by Hezbollah’s arsenal of Grad rockets and other longer-range projectiles, the navy has upgraded its weapons and defensive systems on its entire combat fleet.
In order to protect Israel’s natural gas platforms and other strategic maritime assets, four Sa’ar 6 Corvette warships are currently being built. The first ship is expected to arrive at the end of 2019 with the last being delivered in 2021.
“The navy’s purpose is to protect the country’s EEZ. Any enemy ship that tries to attack our strategic facilities will be destroyed.”