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Israel Lacks Technology to Raise the Remains of Sunken Submarine

Israel is unlikely to try to raise the wreckage of a submarine discovered on the floor of the Mediterranean last week by a U.S. team 30 years after the vessel disappeared on its maiden voyage from Britain.

The commander of the Israeli navy, Maj. Gen. Alex Tal, told the families of the 69 officers and crew who were aboard the submarine that naval forces lack the technology to carry out a deep sea retrieval of the Dakar.

Nevertheless, Defense Minister Moshe Arens said this week that if such technology is found, cost would not be an obstacle.

An Israeli team this week positively identified the submarine based on undersea photographs of the vessel taken by the U.S. team.

The submarine was found less than two miles beneath the surface southeast of Crete at a point along the vessel’s original route. The site of the sinking was not far from the submarine’s location during its last communication in January 1969.

Taken from the vantage point of the break in the hull, the photographs show the vessel’s compass, a spool of yellow nylon cable used by the crew members for work outside the ship and a storage area with two sealed ammunition cases fully intact.

The photographs did not reveal any human remains, said Reserve Col. Doron Amir, who was part of the Israeli team.

The discovery did not immediately yield any information on what caused the submarine to sink.

Four possibilities have been raised: technical error, human error, a collision with another vessel or an attack.

However, naval experts have downplayed the possibility that the submarine was attacked.

Experts said the deep-sea conditions and extreme cold preserved the submarine. They speculated that any remains of the vessel’s crew could be in a similar state.

Families of the Dakar crew disagree over whether an effort should be made to salvage the vessel and look for bodies.

Meanwhile, Israel Radio reported that a Mediterranean cruise ship returning to Israel is due to hold a memorial service next week for the Dakar crew when it sails near the site of the sub’s disappearance.

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