Ceremony Marks Israel’s Acquisition of First Submarine from Britain
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Ceremony Marks Israel’s Acquisition of First Submarine from Britain

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The blue and white ensign of the Israeli Navy flew today over the Israel defense fleet’s newest acquisition, the first of two 715-ton submarines sold to Israel by Britain.

At brief but impressive ceremonies in the Portsmouth Navy Yard at noon today, the Union Jack was lowered on HMS Springer, the sleek, black craft was formally declared ready for transfer and formally accepted by Israel, and the blue and white flag of Israel hoisted. The vessel, renamed Tanin (Whale), thus became the first undersea craft in the Israeli Navy and a powerful reinforcement to Israel’s surface, land and air defenses.

(News of the sale of submarines to Israel by Britain created a storm in Cairo, according to reports reaching London today. Egyptian newspapers reported that Col. Nasser’s government took a “very serious view” of the British action and was considering measures to counteract it. The newspaper Al Ahram quoted United Arab Republic official sources as declaring that the British move was an attack on Arab nationalism which must not be allowed to go “unchallanged. “)

Rear Admiral Samuel Tankus, head of the Israeli Navy and Director General Shimon Peres of the Ministry of Defense headed the Israeli contingent which participated in the taking-over ceremonies this morning. Rear Admiral E. W. Taylor, Flag Officer, Submarines, at the Portsmouth base, led the British.

To a 23-year-old seaman from Hedera, now being trained at the Cunningham Naval College, here, went the honor of raising the Israel ensign over the new acquisition. He was Lieut. Zvi Shur. The commander of the Tanin is Lieut. Commander Jacob Drori, 33, who received submarine training in France. Lieut. Com. Drori is a resident of Migdal Michael, a kibbutz.


At exactly 11: 30 A. M. , the British and Israel officers crossed the bridge of HMS Dorset through a 26-man guard of honor and were piped aboard. The commander of the guard then ordered: “Haul down the main!” and the Union Jack came slowly tumbling down the Springer’s mast as the company stood at salute.

After some minutes, a British deputy officer announced: “Submarine ready for transfer. ” The flag of Israel was then raised on the craft and Israel took possession of the first submarine she had over possessed.

In accepting the submarine, Admiral Tankus recalled that in 1955 the Royal Navy had turned two destroyers over to the Israel Navy. “Now, ” he said, “we are changing the flag of the submarine Springer. We understand the heavy responsibility which rests on us but we hope for the Royal Navy’s assistance for which we have been grateful in the past and for which we shall be grateful in the future.

“We now take command of this submarine. In the name of the Israeli Defense Forces, we accept this vessel. ” A sister-ship, the Sanguine, is now being prepared for delivery to the Israeli Navy by the Royal Navy.

Formal announcement of the acquisition of the submarine was cabled to Prime Minister David Ben Gurion and Foreign Minister Golda Meir today by Zeev Shek, Israel Charge d’ Affaires in London. “The Israel flag was hoisted on the Tanin at 12 o’clock GMT, ” he reported.

Later, addressing a luncheon marking the transfer, Mr. Shek told the British and Israeli naval men that “what we have done together will not serve Israel’s interests only. To strengthen Israel is to strengthen stability in the Middle East, and to strengthen stability in the Middle East is to strengthen world peace.”

“Israel, ” Mr. Shek added, “does not purchase arms in order to make war but in order to prevent it. She hopes to be strong enough to keep the peace. This ship and her sister ship will forge new links between us. May they be happy ships in the future as they have been in the past, carrying their new flag as nobly as they did their original ones, the pride of the men who built them, and add to the honor of Israel. “

Admiral Taylor, in response to Mr. Shek’s remarks, declared: “I hope that the Tanin will serve Israel in the same peaceful manner in which it has served Britain. ” He said the ship, launched in 1945, “has never fired a gun in anger, although it has participated in most of the naval exercises which have since taken place in British home waters. ” He also stressed the fact that the craft is one of the few British submarines which never suffered any mechanical or other type of breakdown.


The first Israel technicians to work on the Tanin are expected to arrive here early next week. Thirty crewmen, also trained at a French base, will follow.

The ship’s British former chief engineer, Lt. Pratt, told newspapermen that the Tanin “is maneuverable, aggressive, an excellent craft. ” The Tanin can cruise, normally, for four weeks without refueling, he pointed cut.

Other British officers familiar with the ship expressed their satisfaction with Israel’s joining “the international brotherhood of submarines. ” They expressed confidence that the Israeli naval men have the necessary characteristics to become expert craftsmen in this new trade. “

Lt. Commander Jacob Drori, the elated young skipper of the Tanin, said he was most satisfied with the maneuverability and the equipment of his new command. Lt. Comdr. Drori received submarine training in France with the French Navy which has four submarines of the “S” class–sister ships of the new Israeli vessel. Naval men expressed the belief that the Israelis would require about a year of training to be able to put the sleek black snorkel-equipped vessel through all its paces.

A 24-year-old submarine veteran, Lieut. Michael Hunt, who served aboard the craft before it was turned over to the Israeli Navy, affectionately described Israel’s first undersea craft today as “very handy, easy to manoeuvre and one of the best which has been given over to a crew which has not had very large experience in maneuvering submarines. “

The Tanin, as Lieut. Hunt pointed out to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency correspondent, will not provide exactly luxurious quarters for its six officers and 50 crew members. The officer’s wardroom, where the officers eat, sleep and spend their off-duty time, has five berths for six men–one officer always standing watch. The crew’s wardroom, he said, is fairly similar to that of the officers in comfort and facilities.

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