The Cutting Edge – Israel’s Navy Patrol Boats
Every so often I have the opportunity to join the Israeli Navy at sea, one such occasion was just last week and the story and video segment can be viewed here
The Israeli Navy is the smallest of the 3 Forces that comprise the IDF. Israel has a significant need for not only protecting its waters but also going beyond its comfort zone to pursue those with an interest in supplying various terror organizations such as Hamas or Hezbollah with weapons.
This past summer the Israeli Navy took a large part in Operation Protective Edge, whether it was intercepting Hamas so called frogmen or shelling targets from the sea to provide cover for ground forces, the Israeli Navy bared its teeth and took a bite out of the enemy.
Continuing with my interest in providing some insight into serving in the IDF, I would like to focus on a very small portion of the Israeli Navy, the Patrol Boat Squad.
3 Patrol Boat Squads exist, their main purpose is keeping the shores of Israel safe, other purposes include the monitoring of incoming traffic to Israel’s ports of Eilat, Ashdod and Haifa, it is not unheard of that the boat squads participate in the interception of ships suspected of carrying illegal arms meant for Gaza or Lebanon though this task is usually handed over to Navy Corvette Units.
All combat positions on Patrol Boats are on a voluntary basis, the crew consists of a commanding officer who is a graduate of the Israel Navy Academy based in Haifa and the soldiers that operate the boat volunteered by marking a “5” next to “sea warrior” when receiving their options for service and went through a physical and mental selection process that lasted 2 days. Those that passed selection are divided between the Navy’s different Corvettes and Patrol Boat units.
The naval soldiers operate the corvette/PT Boat physically while the officers assigned are in charge of the tactical aspect of its operation.
Those that apply for Naval Academy have a much longer and rigorous training process which includes a B.A. and advanced tactical training. All Navy training units fall under the Navy’s training apparatus in Haifa, most of the soldiers training is done there when not at sea with a few exceptions.
The Service in the Patrol Boats is considered very different especially from its IDF counterparts, the small size and type of environment aboard small Navy vessels creates an extremely tight knit feel to all the units within the squads.