LONDON (Oct. 8)
The first of two 715-ton submarines sold by Britain to Israel will be turned over to Israel officials tomorrow in impressive ceremonies. The craft Springer will become the Tanin, Hebrew for whale, in the ceremonies. The other submersible, the Sanguine, will be transferred to Israel before the end of the year. It will be renamed the Rahav. Both of the 13-year-old vessels were extensively overhauled before the sale.
The vessels normally carry a crew of six officers and 50 enlisted men. They can remain submerged for three weeks with use of their snorkels and for 24 hours without the snorkels. A British naval official said that normally two years of training are needed by crews but that “the Israelis can probably manage in six to nine months.”
Financial terms of the sale were not disclosed but it was believed they were favorable to Israel. The sale was considered a direct consequence of the clear-cut change in British policy which followed the revolutionary upheaval in Iraq last July. It was known that some British leaders felt that the need to equip Israel with submarines was urgent for the security not only of the Middle East but also for that of all the NATO countries.
U.S. AND FRANCE INFORMED BY BRITAIN IN ADVANCE OF THE SALE
However, it was also pointed out that among those British sources which contended that the sale did not represent a major shift in British policy, it was believed that the sale was in accordance with the 1950 Tripartite Declaration which favors a balance of military power in the Middle East. It was understood that the United States and France, the two other signatories to the Tripartite Declaration, were informed in advance of the sale.
The balance of arms between Israel and the Arabs was considered to have been upset by the Russian sale of six and possibly ten submersibles to the United Arab Republic. The UAR submarines currently use combined crews of Egyptians, Poles and Russians but their efficiency is expected to drop sharply when they are manned entirely by Egyptians.
The British sale will neutralize the Egyptian threat to the growing Israel merchant fleet, in the opinion of British experts. It gives Israel the capacity to attack the substantial Egyptian navy, to impose a blockade against Egyptian-bound shipping or to cut communications between Egypt and Syria.
Although the Egyptian submersibles are much larger, more modern and better armed and equipped than the two British undersea craft, the efficiency of the Egyptian submarines is expected to drop sharply when all-Egyptian crews take over. Israel naval experts were understood to be convinced that the presence of the Israel submarines would act as an effective deterrent to Egyptian attacks on Israel surface ships.
While the range of the British submarines is limited, they were considered adequate or Israel’s purely defensive needs. Among those scheduled to attend the transfer at Portsmouth will be Shimon Peres, director-general of the Defense Ministry; Aluf Tankus, Israel Navy commander; Zeev Shek, Charge d’Affaires of the Israel Embassy in London, and Col. Ishar Pen, chief of the Israel Purchasing Mission in Britain.