The Story of the Israeli Gal submarines

After the loss of the Dakar, it was obvious that the days of 2nd World War submarines are numbered. The "S" and "T" class subs were a solution for the beginning. Nevertheless, they were old, suffered from material fatigue and were built as oceanic submarines. Israel did not need oceanic submarines, Israel did not need WWII submarines. Israel needed new, small, agile and modern submarines. The answer was the GAL class submarines. The Gal* submarine was a CO-production of Germany, Great Britain and Israel.
*"Gal" in Hebrew means WAVE and also a common name for both boys and girls in Israel. Gal was the name of Abraham (Ivan) Dror's son, 3rd commander of the squadron and head of the project.
When grown up, Gal Dror served
as an officer on the Gal submarines .

Based on a German 206A type submarine, Israeli marine officers and engineers added their input and experience. Due to political reasons the three submarines were built at Vickers shipyards at Barrow in Furness in the UK. The new Tanin and Rahav, and a completely new name for a submarine, INS Gal.

Left, a German 206A class submarine

The Gal subs were built according to the needs of Israel's marine battlefield. They had a crew of 23, third of the size of the T Class crew, all highly professional submariners. Patrol ranges were shortened and fitted to the needs of defending against enemies that live and act in neighboring waters and shores. Although small in size, the Gal subs were equipped with the most modern equipment and weapons for the time.
The first submarine, the INS Gal, under the command of Commander Israel Leshem, 5th commander of the squadron arrived at Haifa on December 1976. Her sister INS Tanin, under the command of lieutenant commander Doron Amir arrived on July 77, and the INS Rahav with Amiram Einat as her skipper joined the flotilla a year later, on December 1977.

Commander Doron Amir received the command of the squadron shortly before the arrival of Rahav. It was the first time that the Israeli navy had 3 commissioned, functional, new and modern submarines. The Gal submarines arrived as the northern border of the country started to heat and the battle against the PLO and other terrorists groups based in Lebanon were in high gear.
Leaving Haifa bay along the Carmel ridge
Soon all 3 submarines were deeply involved in Israel's war against the terror. The 3 submarines and all their crew members have written a glorious chapter in the annals of the Israeli navy and the submarine squadron. Most of this chapter is still top secret, but the contribution of the squadron to the battle against terrorism was important and essential.
The submarines took an important part of the 1982 Lebanon war. The Gal submarines proved that the perception of Ivan Dror and others who were part of the Gal Project was the right one. A small submarine, agile, highly maneuverable, small crew, but highly professional and technical, was the right submarine for Israel.
During 1983 Sub-Harpoon and its associated fire-control equipment was installed in all boats, with new NT 37E torpedoes replacing the older Mk 37 models in 1987-88. All extensively overhauled in 1994-95, including improved sensors and fire control system.
The fact the Israel was involved in an on going war against terror, caused that the submarines were used in ways and in frequency that no other submarine in the world is used. The necessity of a modern submarine force was proven again and again. At the beginning of the 80s, a new submarine began to be conceived, The Dolphin.
At the end of the 20th century and at the threshold of a third millennium, the Gal submarines are more than 20 years old. They have done their share with honor and glory. They are scarred and beaten, but at the same time proud and respected. Although the 3 modern Dolphin class submarine have already arrived, the Gals remain on strength with the Israeli Navy into the 2000s'.

General Characteristics
Builder: Vickers Shipyards, Barrow in Furness,UK
Displacement:Approx. 660 metric tons submerged, 600 on the surface
Length: 48.9 meters Beam: 4.90m
Crew: 23
Armament: Six bow torpedo 21 inches tubes
Speed: 11 knots on the surface, 17 knots submerged

The INS Tanin in periscope depth (Thanks to Commander Ronen Koehler)

A dolphin leads the way for the INS Gal (picture by CPO Arik Elimelech)

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For comments, remarks or anyother please e-mail : Uri Dotan-Bochner