— In January, 1968, the Israeli submarine Dakar, on its delivery voyage from England where it had been purchased, disappeared somewhere in the eastern Mediterranean.
Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren, who was chief military chaplain at the time, has now accepted a naval board of inquiry’s finding that the vessel foundered and all hands perished. In his official report, to be published in a religious journal, he has decreed that the wives of 16 of the crew members are now free to remarry under Jewish law.
Because of the mysterious circumstances surrounding the Dakar’s disappearance doubts lingered as to whether all of the crew were dead. Feeding those doubts was a series of brief wireless messages from the submarine after she had refueled at Gibralter saying “All is well.” Evidence brought out at the inquiry indicated that the messages may not have come from the Dakar.
Several theories were advanced as to the cause of her loss. These included collision, enemy action or the overpowering of the vessel and crew by an “enemy or outside power.” If the latter occurred, it was reasoned that the crew may have been captured and held prisoner either by Egypt or the Soviet Union whose Mediterranean fleet was in the area at the time. Goren instituted an investigation aimed or removing the uncertainty for the benefit of the crewmen’s wives.
A year later, a radio marker buoy believed to be from the Dakar was found indicating that the submarine had been off course and in shallow waters not far from the Egyptian coast. A second novel inquiry followed investigations conducted over a period of many years. It was finally determined that the Dakar is lying on the seabed between Alexandria and Port Said at a depth of 900-1200 feet. In accepting that finding, Goren ended what is believed to have been the longest and most exhaustive effort to determine the status of putative widows.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.