Israel’s unused natural gas potential may be under threat from preying militant groups such as Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Lebanese guerrilla movement, which might require intensified involvement of the country’s Navy in securing the multinational drilling platforms and offshore rigs, Reuters informs.
Having in mind the existence of the dangers such groups pose to economic development and foreign investors, the role of the Navy would have to be financially supported regardless of the budget cuts set forth by the Israel’s Finance Ministry.
In case of a guerrilla attack requiring prompt reaction from the Israeli fleet, which is already preoccupied with enforcing the Gaza Strip blockade, it is questionable whether the Israeli navy would be up to the task. Presently, the Navy disposes of three corvettes with 70 crew members, 10 other missile boats and fast patrol vessels along with three diesel submarines.
“We will do our best, but without a major boost to our capabilities, our best will not be enough,” Reuters cited an Israeli decision-maker while speaking on the subject matter.
“You would need to have at least two missile boats in the vicinity of the rigs at all time,” said a senior officer.
Consequently, expansion of the Navy’s fleet is indispensable. The said expansion would entail purchasing of machinegun-equipped naval patrol boats, including development of electronic counter-measures that would allow gas rigs to block incoming guided missiles, followed by an upgrade of air force patrols of the gas fields and espionage further abroad.
Naval Today Staff, May 29, 2012