TEL AVIV — Israeli, Greek and US naval forces are wrapping up a two-week annual exercise aimed at honing maritime proficiencies and interoperability for potential joint missions in the Mediterranean.
Now in its fifth year, the trilateral drill — dubbed Noble Dina — began April 29 in Souda Bay, Crete, and ends here Thursday after more than a week of anti-submarine warfare (ASW) training and joint maneuvers in international waters.
This year's drill was the largest one yet, involving hundreds of military personnel and nearly a dozen surface, subsurface and supporting air and sea elements, including Greek and Israeli submarines, a Greek frigate and the US destroyer USS Laboon (DDG-58) Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer.
"Last year, we met in the high seas for the first time. And this year, we did it again, but under more complex scenarios and without advance planning," said Lt. Col. Ziv Barak, designer and commander of the exercise on behalf of the Israel Navy.
In a Tuesday May 12 interview, Barak said all assets, including manned and unmanned aircraft, were involved in the protracted ASW part of the drill.
"We managed to join three fleets together at sea in scenarios much more involved than in previous years."
Other mission scenarios included search and rescue, ship seizure and port security operations, Barak said.
"We're discovering that we're dealing with similar threats and learning how to work comfortably together, which is very important to countries that share this area of operations."
The Israeli Navy began joint training with the Hellenic Navy following the discontinuation in 2010 of Reliant Mermaid, an annual trilateral drill that Israel had conducted for a decade with the US and Turkey.
Ankara suspended training with Israel following Israel's seizure of the Mavi Marmara, part of a Turkish flotilla aimed at breaching Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip.