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Thread: Israel, Turkey and US hold joint naval exercise

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    Israel, Turkey and US hold joint naval exercise

    The aim of the exercise is to create cooperation between the Turkish and American navies and our own in carrying out rescue operations for boats in distress, says Israeli officer

    ABOARD THE INS HANIT - Associated Press

    The five ships of war cruised through the blue waters of the eastern Mediterranean sea in a perfect V-formation as a single force, while flying flags from three nations -- Israel, Turkey and the United States.

    The weeklong naval exercises off the coast of Israel, dubbed "Reliant Mermaid" marked the seventh year the three nations have held joint rescue maneuvers.

    For Israel, the continued military cooperation with predominantly Muslim Turkey is an important benchmark after relations between the two countries soured when Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan last year accused Israel of engaging in state terrorism against Palestinians.

    Despite the tensions, Israel and Turkey have a close military cooperation relationship, and Israeli tourists flock to Turkey.

    On Tuesday, the navies practiced rescuing a stranded vessel, played by a U.S. Navy supply ship.

    "The aim of the exercise is to create cooperation between the Turkish and American navies and our own in carrying out rescue operations for boats in distress," said Capt. Avi Arzony, commander of the Israeli 3rd Flotilla.

    With Israel playing host this year, the rescue operations were led by the Israeli naval flagship, the INS Hanit, one of Israel's three advanced "Saar 5" class missile boats.

    As helicopters spotted the disabled vessel, the convoy -- including two Turkish, two Israeli ships and the American destroyer USS O'Bannon -- steamed ahead in single file to carry out the rescue.

    An Israeli air force Hercules transport plane dropped inflatable orange life rafts near the stricken vessel.

    Then a Turkish helicopter lifted off the deck of the TCG Giresun, lowering a winch to the life rafts in a simulated rescue.

    An Israeli helicopter carrying troops from its elite 669 rescue team dropped divers into the sea , hovering low over the sea, windscreen wipers working hard to clear the spray churned up by its rotors, before returning to pull them out of the water.

    As the Israeli helicopter withdrew, a Blackhawk helicopter from the O'Bannon came in to pull out more "survivors" before returning to its deck.

    The "wounded" were then flown to a hospital in Israel.

    As night fell, the exercises were repeated, this time using night sights and flares to carry out the rescue.

    Israeli naval chief Adm. David Ben-Bashat said cooperation between the navies has improved since the joint exercises were first introduced, especially with Turkey, whom he called "wonderful neighbors."

    Ben-Bashat said Israel would be prepared to conduct similar search and rescue exercises with other nations in the area.

    "Whoever wants to cooperate, we will be happy to, whether it is the Egyptians or the Syrians," Ben-Bashat said, standing on the Hanit's missile deck.

    Israel has a peace treaty with Egypt but is in a state of war with Syria.

    Ben-Bashat also said it was vital to have a U.S. military presence in the area "to prevent terror attacks and to give an option in the event of accidents."

    Israeli naval officers said they felt comfortable with their Turkish counterparts.

    "We have a special bond with the Turkish officers. There is a shared Mediterranean warmth," said Cdr. Yoram Israeli, the Hanit commander.

    For the American sailors the exercise presented a welcome break from routine and a chance to visit a new port of call.

    "About a week ago we learned that we were coming over here to Haifa to participate in this," said a gunnery officer, Ensign Matt Aldeman, 23, from Des Moines, Iowa, aboard the Hanit as a liaison officer during the exercise.

    "Most of the crew was pretty excited. Most of us don't get the chance to go to Israel very often," he said.

    http://www.turkishdailynews.com/arti...c&enewsid=3729

    Attached are pics from this exercise.
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    Last edited by DeepSpace; 15th January 2005 at 08:41.

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