Israel receives new Naval landing craft, built in Mississippi

On Aug. 8, the Israeli Navy received the first of two landing crafts built at Bollinger Shipyards in Pascagoula.

The ceremony dedicating the INS Nachshon was led by the Commanding Officer of Haifa Naval Base, RDML. Tal Politis, and senior officials in the procurement delegation of the Ministry of Defense.

Rabbi Steve Silberman of Ahavas Chesed in Mobile attended the ceremony, along with his wife, Manette. Silberman said there were brief remarks, then the American flag was raised as the Star Spangled Banner played. The American flag was then lowered, replaced by the Israeli flag as Hatikvah was played.

“Jewish, Israeli, American and maritime history were changed at a shipyard in Pascagoula,” Silberman remarked. “A high-tech vessel designed and constructed in accordance with Israeli specifications by American engineers and American workers, financially underwritten by American foreign assistance for Israel, showcases cooperation, friendship and a shared goal of Israel’s safety and wellbeing.”

Rear Adm. Tal Politis, the commander of the Haifa Naval Base, speaks at the Aug. 8 ceremony

The project began four years ago, and was financed through U.S. military aid to Israel, almost all of which must be spent in the United States. The Nachshon is about 95 meters long, 20 meters wide and weighs about 2,500 tons. It will set sail for Israel in a few months and will be operational in 2024.

According to the Israel Defense Forces, the team of the landing craft consists of dozens of naval combat soldiers, with a quarter of them being female. The commanding officer has the rank of Lieutenant Commander.

The IDF stated that the crafts “will act as a central pillar in adapting the Israeli Navy to the modern and multi-arena battlefield. Among other things, the landing crafts will serve as a logistical axis for transporting equipment as well as the soldiers in near and far areas.”

Politis said the craft’s completion “marks a significant milestone in adapting the Navy to the modern battlefield.”

The Israeli Navy used landing craft from the beginning in 1948, but the last of their crafts was decommissioned in 1993 when it was determined that there was no need for newer models. In recent years, the Navy sought to restore that capability.

Vice Admiral David Saar Salama, commander in chief of the Israeli Navy, told the first crew of the Nachshon that they “have a great privilege today, writing a chapter in the history of the Israeli Navy.” He referenced the craft’s name, as a midrash says that the Red Sea did not part when Moses waved his staff over it, but only after Nachshon wandered into the sea up to his head. “You are the pioneers of the way, the first to jump into the water and carve a new path in the heart of the seas,” Salama said.

(Photos courtesy IDF)