When fighting erupted in Gaza last month and rockets rained on Israel, the men operating its navy submarine Leviathan knew next to nothing.
Submerged for a drill, they were relayed only brief bulletins so as not to be distracted from their mission.
“We are by definition clandestine and, to a degree, isolated at sea. Our performance depends on our focus,” a senior navy officer told Reuters aboard Leviathan during a training run, in the first such foreign media access to the vessels.
Speculation surrounds the role of the fleet of five Dolphin-class submarines, each costing some $500 million. A sixth is on order from the German manufacturer. Some analysts suggest these boats may be capable of launching nuclear missiles.
Around a third the size of the nuclear-powered giants of the United States or Russia, and with diesel-electric engines that limit underwater durations to two or three weeks, the Dolphins are designed mainly to patrol the Mediterranean coast.