The soldiers of the little-known Underwater Missions Unit dive to the depths of the sea fixing vessels, recovering remnants of accidents and patrolling Israel’s coasts.
09 August '10
Leafing through the rich collection of photographs from the Underwater Missions Unit is a breathtaking experience. This is one of the few units whose routine activities remain a mystery to the general population. The photographs shown here were released by the unit on the occasion of Israeli Navy Week, and they reveal just a small piece of the big picture. Each image offers a rare glimpse into the extensive activities of the unit’s fighters.
Only a tiny number of soldiers in compulsory military service get to wear the octopus pin of the Underwater Missions Unit on their uniforms. The number is so small that the selections for the unit only occur once every two years. Whoever passes them will experience an exceptional military service. The soldiers of the Underwater Missions Unit are mobilized when an explosive device is discovered in the depths of the sea and they know how to disable it. They are also responsible for repairing external parts of ships inside the water. Additionally, they are the ones called up to search for debris and pull it out from the depths of the sea after maritime accidents.
“Our level of diving today is among the best in the world”, claims Unit Commander, Maj. Oren. “We go from project to project: from the renewed searches for the remains of Yakir Nave, the IAF pilot who crashed into the Sea of Galilee in the 60s, to the controlled explosion of explosive material left in the sea from the 40s. In many cases I find myself with three teams located in opposite ends of the country, when it is safe to say that 50% of the unit’s activities are not planned in advance. We are a small unit, one that is not very well known, but one that is extremely significant in wartime. If our enemies plant the water with mines, we have to clean it up”.
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