Navy declares 4th advanced Sa’ar 6-class warship operational, sends one to Red Sea

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

An Iron Dome missile defense system fires an interceptor from a Sa’ar-6 corvette, at a target during an exercise in May 2023. (Defense Ministry)
An Iron Dome missile defense system fires an interceptor from a Sa’ar-6 corvette, at a target during an exercise in May 2023. (Defense Ministry)

The Israeli Navy has declared its fourth and final Sa’ar 6-class corvette operational, more than two years after delivery, amid its use in the ongoing war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

In April, the IDF announced that three of the four Sa’ar 6-class corvettes were declared operational, with the fourth — delivered in August 2021 — being close to that stage.

The two years it took for each ship to be declared operational is considered relatively quick by Navy standards, as the previous class of corvette, the Sa’ar-5, took around 10 years to be declared operational.

The Sa’ar 6-class corvettes are named INS “Magen,” meaning shield; “Oz,” meaning valor; “Atzmaut,” meaning independence; and “Nitzahon,” meaning victory. Each is staffed with around 80 sailors.

Each nearly 2,000-ton ship is outfitted with 20 systems, 18 of which are Israeli-made. The systems include a modified version of the Iron Dome system, known as the C-Dome, as well as the Gabriel V and LRAD missile systems, the latter of which can shoot down cruise and ballistic missiles.

The IDF says the Sa’ar 6-class corvettes are being used to aid the ground forces operating in the Gaza Strip, and to strike Hamas operatives, including dozens of members of the terror group’s naval forces. It says the Navy has killed the majority of Hamas’s naval forces commanders.

The Navy also reveals that it managed to thwart a number of explosive-laden autonomous submarines, or underwater drones, launched by terror groups in the Gaza Strip at Israeli “strategic assets,” referring to off-shore gas platforms. Hamas has carried out such attempts in the past.

A Hamas underwater drone seized by the Israeli Navy, in a handout image published December 12, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)

The Navy’s corvettes are also being used in the Red Sea, amid missile and drone attacks by the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen on Israel’s southernmost city of Eilat. The IDF says that for the first time, the INS “Magen” docked at the Eilat port this week.

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