Israel, US and Greece begin annual naval exercise

Noble Dina, which replaced joint operation with Turkey, gives IDF an ‘opportunity for strengthening cooperation with allies’

An Israeli navy missile ship (photo credit: Abir Sultan/Flash90)
An Israeli navy missile ship (photo credit: Abir Sultan/Flash90)

The navies of Israel, Greece and the US began a two-week joint military exercise Thursday for the third year in a row.

The annual operation, nicknamed Noble Dina, was established in 2011, after relations between Israel and Turkey soured.

In a statement released by the IDF on Thursday, Noble Dina was described as “part of the security cooperation between the Israeli navy and foreign naval forces… an opportunity for mutual learning and for strengthening of the cooperation with its allies.”

As was the case in Noble Dina in 2012, the exercise will include defending offshore natural gas platforms, as well as simulated air-to-air combat and anti-submarine warfare.

The US conducted similar exercises (“Reliant Mermaid”) with Turkey and Israel from 1998 to 2009, but these were canceled after Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan suspended military cooperation with Israel in 2010 on the heels of the Mavi Marmara flotilla raid in May of that year.

Since then Israel has entered deeper military and economic ties with Turkish rivals Greece and Cyprus.

While the long-running Reliant Mermaid was based on joint humanitarian search-and rescue missions, Noble Dina is much more military-oriented.

In October and November 2012, Israeli and US military forces held the Austere Challenge 12 exercise, a three-week joint drill that was the largest ever held between the two allies. Some 3,500 US troops and 1,000 Israeli soldiers took part in that drill.

Gabe Fisher contributed to this report.

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