Shmuel Tankus, the fifth commander of Israel's Navy died at the age of 97 on Sunday. "He was an extraordinary person who trained entire generations of naval officers both for the IDF's Navy and Israel's Merchant Navy," former Navy commander Ami Ayalon said.
"This man made a huge contribution to the State of Israel," he added.
Trained entire generations (Photo: GPO)
Tankus was born in Jaffa and studied at the Herzliya Hebrew Gymnasium. As a teenager he helped Jewish immigrants off their ships, and took part in the construction of the Tel Aviv Port. He later served as a naval counselor in the Haganah and worked as a teacher at Haifa's naval school. Tankus also wrote the first Hebrew-language navigation guidebooks.
During World War II he trained Haganah members on naval maneuvers in the enemy's hinterland.
He was appointed head of training upon the establishment of Israel's Navy. In 1950 he was made head of naval operations and in 1954 was appointed Navy commander, a position he held until 1960. The Navy saw considerable progress under his command with the renewal of vessels and the development of the Gabriel naval attack missile.
In 1960, Tankus was appointed head of the naval officers academy in Akko.
"On a national level, his contribution as a naval trainer maybe even exceeds his legacy as the Navy commander," Ami Ayalon told Ynet.
Tankus will be buried at the Sde Yehoshua cemetery in Haifa on Monday.
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