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The Situation In The Eastern Mediterranean (Part 9)

Ropucha class large landing ship 151 Azov on her northbound passage through Bosphorus

Ropucha class large landing ship 151 Azov is the first Russian ship to ever visit Israel.  This photo shows her during one of many recent passages through Bosphorus.

The Russian Defence Ministry announced that the large landing ship 154 Azov will be the first ship ever to visit Israel. The ship will be in Haifa, Israel between 1 and 3 May 2013.

A Russian naval ship will visit Israel for the first time in the country’s history, the Defense Ministry said on Tuesday.

The Azov, a Ropucha II-class landing ship from Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, will call at the port of Haifa from May 1-3, the ministry’s press service said.

The visit is timed to coincide with the 68th anniversary of the Allied victory in World War II, a press service representative said.

“The visit is the initiative of veteran organizations in Israel,” he added.

The program of the visit includes performances by the Black Sea Fleet orchestra for Israeli war veterans and Haifa residents. The warship will also be open to the public for visits.

A reception on board the Azov will be organized for World War II veterans living in Israel.

This is an interesting move from Russia. In March Russian warships Kaliningrad, Alexander Shabalin and Yaruslav Mudryy. made a visit in Beirut. It seems as if Russia is looking for an alternative port for its Mediterranean fleet if Tartous should become inhospitable.

Israeli officials on board INS Rahav Photo: Israeli Defense Ministry via The Times Of Israel

Israeli officials on board INS Rahav Photo: Israeli Defense Ministry via The Times Of Israel

Last week Israeli Navy received its fifth Dolphin class submarine INS Rahav in Kiel Germany. The Dolphin class submarines are one of the most advanced conventional submarines in the world.

The submarine – called the INS Rahav – is the most expensive defense platform ever purchased by Israel. The vessel is set to undertake several long-range classified missions that are critical for Israel’s security.

The submarine is viewed by the navy as an important “force multiplier” that will enable Israel to cope with threats in the increasingly unstable Middle East region.

According to foreign reports, the navy’s Dolphins also provide Israel with nuclear second-strike capabilities, as they can travel far from Israel’s territorial waters and are reportedly able to carry long-range cruise missiles tipped with nuclear warheads.

The latest Dolphin-class subs can remain submerged longer than their predecessors.

The INS Rahav, together with the INS Tanin – the fourth Dolphin sub, delivered to Israel in 2012 – and the sixth sub, which is still being built, will cost a total of some 1.4 billion Euro ($1.8 billion). The German government is reportedly covering a third of the cost.

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