Israel, US and Greece complete joint naval exercise

 Israel, US and Greece complete joint naval exercise

by Staff Writers
Jerusalem (AFP) March 21, 2013

Israeli, Greek and US warships concluded a joint two-week Mediterranean naval exercise codenamed "Noble Dina" on Thursday, the Israeli military said.

"The exercise, which took place in the Mediterranean Sea, was conducted in order to assess the level of operational coordination between the three navies," it said.

It said that participants were drilled in "search and rescue, immediacy and efficiency of the response to maritime emergencies, maritime evacuation, navigation and fire drills."

The exercise wound up as US President Barack Obama paid a three-day visit to Israel and the West Bank.

For several years, Israel and the US carried out naval manoeuvres with Turkey, but Ankara in September 2011 expelled Israel's ambassador and suspended military cooperation with the Jewish state.

Once-warm ties reached a low point after Israeli commandos raided a Gaza-bound Turkish aid flotilla in the Mediterranean in May 2010, killing nine Turks on board.

Relations with traditionally pro-Arab Greece have since been warming, with Israel joining it in naval and air exercises.

Athens is keenly interested in Israel's economic rapprochement with traditional Greek ally Cyprus to develop offshore gas deposits in the eastern Mediterranean.

Media said of last year's Noble Dina exercise that it was designed in part to practice defending offshore gas rigs.

In November, Israeli and US troops concluded a major missile defence exercise lasting more than three weeks and involving 3,500 personnel from the US European Command and 1,000 Israeli troops.