WATCH: On board the Israeli navy's most expensive submarine
With a price tag of half a billion dollars and the ability to stay underwater 10 times longer than the navy's other submarines, the INS Rahav will soon become operational. Ynet reporter Yoav Zitun went out to sea with the new submarine's crew to see what makes it tick.
It cost half a billion dollars and it is 68 meters long (10 meters longer than the existing Dolphin submarines), but the secret to its military might is the fact it can stay deep underwater for longer periods of time, 10 times, and at times even longer, than other submarines.
The stealth capabilities of the new submarine, and of its "sister" INS Tanin, allows them to be completely silent while underwater, thanks to their electric engines.
"The operational effectiveness is much higher," Col. D., the commander of the Submarine Flotilla, explained. "Tanin has already performed quite an extensive and diverse range of operational duty, and has performed better than usual. We've implemented the lessons learned from the Tanin's integration process, which lasted several months. This allowed us to make arrangements while still in Germany and with that shorten by half the process of making it operational."
Col. D. said the new submarine's bigger size compared to existing submarines provides "an advantage and is of considerable importance to the comfort of the submariner. It allows remaining more effective and fit for duty for longer periods of time during missions. Even the lighting in the new submarine is stronger and more economical than in the INS Dolphin."
The colonel spoke of the cooperation between the Submarine Flotilla and the Army, and described an unusual cooperation in training areas in southern Israel.
"We come to Armored Corps exercises to see what we could offer the tank brigade commander, what are they missing. This personal acquaintance, which includes reciprocal visits by Army officers to the submarines, will help us work together better," he said.
While the IDF prides itself on having more than 90 percent of the positions in the military open for women, including many combat roles in infantry, artillery, IAF fighter squadrons and the navy, Col. D. admits that women cannot serve in the submarine.
"As you walk from one end to the other on a submarine, you can't avoid physically touching one another, because of the crowdedness and small space," he said.
"There are some cultures, like in Denmark and Sweden, in which shared showers and sleeping quarters are part of the culture, so they don't have a problem," Col. D. continued. "There are other navies that built different submarines, significantly bigger, and included rooms, bathrooms, showers, and spaces for female fighters. This allows them to serve alongside the male fighters, while maintaining clear separation. For us, the submarines are small and I don't see how in our culture, in such a small space, this could happen. It's not that I have any doubt about women's abilities, I'm sure they can be as good as male submariners, but on the submarine it's impossible to avoid physical touch and that creates situations that, on the cultural level, are unacceptable in the IDF and in Israeli society. Perhaps it will be possible in the future, if they build submarines that are three times as large."