The Israeli Navy on Tuesday received the first of two new landing crafts from a shipyard in the United States, though the vessel will only be delivered in the coming months.
During a ceremony at the Pascagoula shipyard in Mississippi, an Israeli flag was raised on the US-built INS Nahshon.
The Israel Defense Forces said the vessels, which weigh 2,500 tons each and are approximately 95 meters in length and 20 meters wide, will “act as a central pillar in adapting the Israeli Navy to the modern and multi-arena battlefield.”
The vessels were procured using funds from US military aid to Israel.
The military said INS Nahshon and the second landing craft will also “serve as a logistical axis for transporting equipment as well as the soldiers in near and far areas.”
The INS Nahshon will undergo final preparations during the next few months, including training for its crew, before it sets sail for a naval base in Israel. During 2024, the Navy expects to declare the vessel operational.
Rear Adm. Tal Politis, the commander of the Haifa Naval Base, who led the ceremony, said receiving the first landing craft “marks a significant milestone in adapting the Navy to the modern battlefield.”
“This is a powerful war vessel,” he added.
Each landing craft team will consist of dozens of combat sailors, a quarter of them being female soldiers and officers, the IDF said. The ship will be commanded by a Navy officer with the rank of lieutenant commander — the Ground Forces equivalent of a major.
The admiral of the Navy left a handwritten letter for the first team of the INS Nahshon. “You have a great privilege today, writing a chapter in the history of the Israeli Navy,” Vice Adm. David Sa’ar Salama wrote.
“With wonderful cohesion, dedication and professionalism, in a wonderful partnership that crosses times, people and countries, you lead the Navy to new horizons, to horizons of influence and of determination,” he added.
Landing craft are primarily used to transport troops and equipment across the sea and deploy them on the shore during an amphibious assault.
The Israeli Navy used such vessels since its inception in 1948 and until 1993, when the last of the aging landing crafts were decommissioned, with the military assessing at the time that it had no use for newer models.
The new procurement of the landing crafts for the Israeli Navy began some four years ago.