The Israel Navy’s Submarine Flotilla, whose activity takes place far from the spotlight, is a significant contributor to the defense of the State of Israel. It plays a major role in Israel’s intelligence gathering and is the main naval assault force. The soldiers who make up this combat force are an inseparable part of the IDF (Zahal)’s defense and surveillance systems.
Recently, with the Mediterranean Sea as a backdrop and the rising hills of Haifa in the foreground, the newest class of submariners stood to celebrate the end of their long training. Few people are aware of the demanding and complex role played by the IDF (Zahal)’s submariners. In order to be accepted for service in this elite unit, the soldiers must pass a fifteen-month course.
Just a few days after their graduation, the soldiers are expected to start manning the combat positions they were designated for throughout the extensive training period. Their roles are critical to the function of the vessels, and include handling advanced weapons, operating hi-tech systems, and navigating the vessels.
Becoming A Diver
“My family has a strong military background,” said Sgt. Y, one of the graduates. “My father was an officer in the IDF (Zahal), my sister is currently an officer, and it was clear to me that I wanted to become an officer as well.”
The course presents its cadets with numerous challenges, and due to its high demands, not every cadet makes it to the end of the training. “In the first six months of training, also known as ‘the Basic Stage’, the conditions are very demanding,” said Sgt. Y. “You learn the smallest details about the submarine and its structure. There is a very high level of discipline, and you go home only every three or four weeks.”
“There were many struggles throughout the course,” recalled Sgt. Y. “I remember one Saturday when our commander came to the base even though it was his day off. Our discipline had weakened in the weeks before, and he gave us a very touching speech about the character of a diver and what the role represents. It made us understand what we represent, and we could suddenly feel the weight of the naval tradition on our shoulders. Even though he gave the speech over six months ago, the other soldiers and I still bring it up in order to remind ourselves to be worthy of our roles.”
A Crucial Force in the Navy
The role the submariners serve is entirely covert, yet instrumental in the IDF (Zahal)’s functioning. “I credit the success of Flotilla 7 to you, the fighters,” said Naval Haifa base commander, Brig. Gen. Eli Sharvit at the graduation ceremony. “The Navy could not be as efficient and powerful as it is based only on its munitions; it derives its fortitude from the human qualities of soldiers such as yourselves.”