The commander of Israel’s navy said he needs to increase the size of his force to meet the challenge of protecting the country’s natural gas platforms in the Mediterranean Sea.

Israel has recently stepped up gas exploration in the Mediterranean with several finds of large offshore fields in the past few years. Officials hope extracting the gas will help the country turn into an exporter in a number of years. Until recently, Israel had partially depended on gas supplies from Egypt.

“The sea looks quiet but beneath the surface there are currents and whirlpools and the navy must be ready for every eventuality,” Maj. Gen. Ram Rothberg warned on Monday.

Rothberg said that in order to ensure an uninterrupted gas supply, the navy needs to increase its presence in the area of the rigs and adapt its methods both on the surface and below the waves in order to protect the vital strategic and financial asset.

The navy is looking to buy more patrol boats and other equipment at a cost of some NIS 3 billion.