For 31 years Israel never ceased her effort to find her lost sons. One of Israel's strongest traditions is to bring home all killed and missing soldiers. In Israel's 52 years of existence she paid dearly for getting the remains of her MIA warriors. Jews will do their outmost in order to give a proper Jewish burial to every Jewish deceased.
For 31 years the search went on, year after year. 25 search missions were launched, every expedition searched a different part of the Mediterranean. Along the years more advanced methods and techniques were used together with the development of the marine and deep-sea science and technology.

For 31 years all effort were in vain. 25 missions that searched almost every part of the eastern Mediterranean were fruitless. As weird as it sounds, the only area that was not checked was along Dakar's route to Haifa. Along a virtual course between her last known position point and Haifa. Why did it take 31 years to find Dakar where she logically should have been. The answer has 2 parts. One is the emergency buoy marker that was washed to the coast of Khan Yunis a year after Dakar's disappearance and the other part of the answer is the advanced techniques for deep sea exploration that were developed along the last 3 decades and became handy just lately.

Dakar's Stern Emergency Buoy Marker


On February 9th 1969, a year after Dakar's disappearance, an Arab fisherman found Dakar's stern emergency buoy marker on the coast of Khan Yunis, an Arab village south/west of Gaza. The Dakar had 2 such buoy markers. One in the bow and one in the stern. They were secured behind wooden doors in cages under the deck and attached to the submarine with metal cables 200 meters (600ft) long. Those doors could be opened from the inside of the submarine. When a submarine is unable to surface, the crew can open the doors and the buoy will surface and transmit for the next 48 hours an SOS message. The location of the sunken submarine can then be determined by radio direction finders. Part of the cable (65 cm) that attached the buoy to the Dakar was found. Scientists and experts examined the buoy number of times and determined that the buoy was attached to the Dakar for a  year until the cable broke completely. It was determined that the Dakar rests in depth between 150 to 326 meters, and that she is 50-70 nautical miles away from her planned route.
Dakar's stern buoy emergency marker on display at the naval museum at Haifa
Today, after the rediscovery of Dakar it is clear that the conclusions of sea experts and marine scientists were false and misled the search operations for 31 years. Dakar never diverted from her planned route and her wreck rests in a depth of almost 3 kilometers. The emergency buoy marker was not attached to the submarine during the first year. It must have been cut close to the accident time. It is not out of question that the radio station in Nicosia really did receive the emergency call radioed by the emergency buoy. It then took most of the passing year for the buoy to drift southeasterly direction toward the eastern shores of the Mediterranean.

A New Approach

After 25 barren search missions, the CIC of the Navy, Admiral Alex Tal dismissed the previous search committee and nominated Rear Admiral(ret.) Gideon Raz as head of the new committee. All previous search missions concentrated in relatively shallow waters according to the buoy research conclusions. This time, Raz and his committee members consulted with US Navy experts and scientists of deep water research. Based on new deep water technology, satellite advanced technology and calcified information obtained from the US Navy about the Mediterranean currents, led to a new conclusion.
Rear Admiral (ret.) Gideon Raz
Expedition leader Tom Dettweiler
It was decided to concentrate the search efforts along the path of the original route. The American marine contractor Nauticos Corporation was hired with Tom Dettweiler as expedition leader and at the end of April 1999 the 26th attempt to find the lost submarine was launched.

The 26th Search Expedition is on

On 9 May 1999 the two charted sea vessels arrived at the search area. The designated search frames box area was approximately 60 nautical miles long, nearly 8 nautical miles wide and contained 16 search lanes. With a speed of 2 knots per hour it takes between 30 to 40 hours to monitor the sea bed of each search lane.
Searching was conducted using the AMS-60, a wide-swath sonar and the REMORA 6000, a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) equipped with both video and still cameras.
The 2 Cypriots ships that were chartered by the American firm Nauticos. Flying Enterprise on the left towed the advanced sonar AMS-60 behind. Argonaut on the right carried the ROV, a robot with video camera.
REMORA 6000, a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) equipped with both video and still cameras, was used to verify the sonar contacts and identify the DAKAR
AMS-60 sonar search system used to locate the Dakar. Nauticos and Williamson personnel operated this system twenty-four hours per day during at-sea operations.

Dakar is found

At the evening of the 24th May the sonar detected the presence of a large body resting on the seabed. The team was able to view on the monitor a large black spot and a scattering of smaller dots around it. Dettweiler ordered to winch down the ROV, a remotely operated vehicle equipped with both video and still cameras, in order to conduct a more specific visual survey and make a positive identification. Bad weather delayed the investigation for another 3 days. At 0700, on May 28th the ROV dove and 4 hours later it started to transmit pictures to the ship 2900 meters above. There was no place for doubt. It was clear that those are the remains of a submarine. The submarine rests on her keel, her bow points to the northwest, the hull is broken in two between the engine room and the stern. The conning tower is ripped off and on its side, as the forward part of the tower(the bridge)lies 230 meters away. The stern of the submarine, with its propellers and dive planes, broke off the submarine and rests not far from the main hull.

Illustartion of the Dakar as she rests at the bottom of the sea

Navy headquarters in Tel-Aviv was informed of the finding on Friday May 28th. As the bottom of the Mediterranean is a graveyard for many German, Italian and British WWII submarines, a team of three former commanders of submarine squadron were rushed to the search area on the deck of a fast missile boat. Rear Admiral Raz, Commander Amir and Commander Keisari carefully examined the video film, searching for details characteristic of the Israeli "T" class boats. A few hours later they gave the final confirmation that the lost submarine, INS Dakar had finally been found. It was Friday, Sabbath's eve, and at 8:00 PM, all news broadcasting started with the words that sent a shiver through the nation:

INS Dakar was found

500 kilometers (310 miles or 270 sea miles) away from the shores of Israel, on the bed of the Mediterranean, in 2,900 meters of waters (9,514 feet), the Dakar rests.

Pictures from the depths and the past

click to enlarge

What happened to Dakar?
After the finding of the Dakar, and about a year after the salvage of the bridge, the mystery of the INS Dakar was solved.
We will never know exactly what has happened on the night between the 24th and the 25th of January 1968, but according to what was found we can get as close to the truth as possible:

1. It happened between midnight and 3am. The boat was traveling at a speed of 8.5 knots, submerged, snorkeling and in direct drive.

2. In direct drive the diesel engines not only charge the batteries but also turn the 2 propellers.

3. For an unknown reason a minor leak of water starts at one of the forward sections. This leak of water impairs the balance of the submarine and she loses her trim.

4. Because of the speed momentum the submarine goes into a steep, fast dive. The fact that the diesels are engaged with the electrical motors prevents an "all backward" maneuver which might have avoided the tragedy that followed.

5. Within 30 seconds the Dakar reaches it's crash depth and starts to implode.

6. The implosion happens fast and rips all along the hull with a tremendous power. The death of the boat and her crew is instant, fast and violent.

7. During the implosion the stern emergency buoy breaks loose and makes its way to the surface. However, it drags along with it the 600 ft long steel cable and a heavy pulley. The weight of the cable and the pulley prevent the buoy from surfacing completely.

8. The Dakar, imploded and broken up, continues her dive to the depths of the Mediterranean. Within 10-15 minuets she reaches the bottom of the sea and crashes with a huge impact. The crash separates the hull between the engine room and the stern compartment. This causes the broken stern to fly forward and land near the conning tower. Heavy parts fly in all directions, a huge cloud of sand rises for a long time, and when it settles down the deep silence dominates again the eternal silence of the sea.

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