After ten years and some unexpected delays, Israel is set to mark the long-awaited arrival of its newest submarine, the INS Rahav, on Tuesday.
The Dolphin-class vessel will be the fifth to join the Israeli Navy, and will be greeted in a ceremony attended by the country’s top civil and military leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, and Israel Navy commander Admiral Ram Rothberg.
The INS Rahav will be escorted to its new home in the Haifa naval base by a fleet of Israeli vessels, including the four existing submarines, missile boats, and naval commando ships.
Ordered over a decade ago and assembled by a shipbuilding company in Germany, the Rahav measures over 220 feet long and weighs in at over 2,000 tons. While the submarine was officially unveiled in 2013, it required an additional year and half of work to become operational. It began its 3,450-mile journey to Israel with a crew of 50 in mid-December.
According to foreign reports, the vessel will have second-strike capabilities, allowing Israel to launch nuclear-armed missiles from the submarine in the event of a nuclear attack.
The reports are unconfirmed by Israel, which is famously mum about its nuclear assets, though foreign analysts estimate that the Jewish state could have up to 200 nuclear warheads.
The Rahav, which reportedly cost Israel $2 billion, has an advanced air-independent propulsion system which will enable the craft to stay submerged for weeks at a time, significantly enhancing Israel’s ability to perform covert reconnaissance missions.