TEL AVIV (Apr. 3)
Israel is seeking again to unravel an 18-year-old mystery — the disappearance of the Israeli submarine Dakar on its delivery voyage from Britain where it was purchased and taken over by the Israel Navy in 1968.
Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin was reported Thursday to have asked the Egyptian government for clarification of a statement attributed to a former Egyptian Chief of Staff, Mustafa Fawzi, that the undersea craft was sunk by the Egyptian Navy. Fawzi was quoted in an Arabic newspaper published in one of the Gulf states.
The Dakar was posted missing on January 25, 1968. She had failed to arrive at her Israeli naval base and had not communicated by wireless. The 69 officers and crew aboard were listed as missing. Only after a number of years were they officially declared lost at sea. Until then, the rabbinical authorities would not allow their wives to remarry.
Theories abounded as to why the submersible was lost. Some suggested mechanical failure. Others said the Dakar might have struck an underwater reef. There were suggestions that she may have been the victim of terrorist activity or was attacked by a hostile country which refused to admit the attack at the time.
Egypt recently agreed to allow a non-Israeli team to explore its coastal waters for the remains of the sub. The U.S. has agreed to help. Technology to locate and photograph objects on the ocean floor has advanced tremendously in the past 18 years.