The COVID-19 pandemic severely impeded IDF exercises, but it was devastating for the Israel Navy.

This week, for the first time since the coronavirus outbreak in Israel,  Shayetet 3, the navy’s corvette unit, conducted a full drill.The IDF prioritization of the navy allowed Shayetet 3 to resume its intensive drills, which are critical to preserving the navy’s abilities, OC INS Eilat Lt.-Gen. Omri Arberboy told The Jerusalem Post Thursday.“The coronavirus had a major impact on Shayetet 3 because of our unusual service conditions,” he said.“The ability to create some sort of separation between the soldiers is impossible here on the ship,” he added. “We can’t create ‘capsules’ here, and there’s no use to walk around with masks on board, because we all eat and sleep at the same places. The danger of someone infecting an entire ship was a tangible threat.“So our concerns of the effect of the coronavirus was real. One infection could stop a ship from carrying out activities, and it’s not like the IDF has 200 ships… The IDF prioritizing the navy, and the Shayetet 3 specifically, put us in a great place, and now we have a 100% vaccination rate.”
A sailor on the OC INS Eilat takes part in the first naval drill held since COVID-19 broke out/ IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT A sailor on the OC INS Eilat takes part in the first naval drill held since COVID-19 broke out/ IDF SPOKESPERSON’S UNIT

This week’s drill was the first time since the coronavirus outbreak that his ship could exercise with a full staff, Arberboy said.“For the first time, we had with us onboard command-and-control personnel and reservists,” he said. “It is significant; the reservists are a source of knowledge that keeps us at the right professional level. This drill marked the first step, I hope, toward our normal routine in the post-corona world.”

Shayetet 3 is considered to be one the most operational combat units in the IDF. It operates frequently beyond Israeli borders and contributes to help maintain the IDF’s updated intelligence apparatus.During the drill, the unit’s Saar 5 and Saar 4.5 corvettes exercised scenarios that are connected to the main two tasks of the Navy: protecting Israeli strategic assists in the sea and guaranteeing that ships can sail free into and out of Israel.

Sailors on the OC INS Eilat take part in the first naval drill held since COVID-19 broke out/ IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNITSailors on the OC INS Eilat take part in the first naval drill held since COVID-19 broke out/ IDF SPOKESPERSON’S UNIT

“Protecting this right is highly important for Israel,” Arberboy said. “Some 95% of Israel’s trade is conducted through the sea, [including] fuel, food and vehicles. Keeping this artery open during emergency times is critical for Israel.”

“In the drill, we practiced operating in war conditions, which includes uncertainty, changing the mission by surprise and quickly adjusting to a new one, and lack of sleep,” he said. “Part of the drill was understanding the developing abilities of the enemy and providing the right answer to it. Our goal is to be able to perfectly prevent it – not 90%, but all of it;90% would be considered a total failure.”Another aspect of the drill was to improve the multi-domain combat abilities of the ships, Arberboy said.“Through our advanced command-and-control systems and advanced firepower, which most of is a secret, we have the ability to operate with other army units and help the efforts of the ground and air forces, ” he said. “The ships have a critical role in achieving a victory in war.”



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