Eight ships belonging to the NATO southern forces docked at the Haifa port as part of the NATO Mediterranean dialog program. The ships will be the guests of the Israeli Navy from May 29-June 4.
A press conference took place aboard the Spanish freighter after
the ships docked, held by the commander of the NATO force, Brigadier General Teodoro Lopez-Calderon and the commander of the Israeli Naval base in Haifa, Brigadier General Yochai Ben-Yosef.
Brig. Gen. Ben-Yosef welcomed the guests and noted that the visit marked another step in the advancing of the relationship between the IDF and NATO. The Israeli Navy and NATO forces are operate under shared values – making efforts to maintain peace and stability in the region, preventing global terrorism and providing humanitarian aid and assistance in the event of emergencies at sea.
The Israel Navy commander noted that next month Israeli naval forces will participate in a NATO maritime exercise in the Black Sea off the coast of Romania. The exercise will take place with the NATO southern force currently visiting Israel, other NATO forces, as well as forces from other countries including Romania, Turkey and Greece.
This will be the first time that Israeli naval craft will participate as an integrated force in a NATO naval exercise. The goal of Israeli participation in such an exercise is to learn to work in coordination with NATO forces operating in the region.
Brig. Gen. Lopez-Calderon stated that the goals of the visit are to allow the NATO force to familiarize itself with this important country and deepen the relationships with Israeli civilian and military authorities. He noted that the NATO force is maintained at a high state of readiness, and is prepared to deploy wherever NATO has need for it. The force is composed of ships from various allied countries that train and operate together throughout the year and participate in all the key exercises held by the NATO alliance. The force is ready for deployment in any region within a 3,000 nautical mile radius.