israel navy ship dakar – previously the british warship totem, t-type submarine, built in the u.k. and put into the royal navy service in the midst of world war two in september 1943, it was purchased by the israeli government in 1965. the sub underwent a major overhaul in the u.k. and in 1967 the israeli flag was raised on its deck. major yaacov raanan was appointed the dakar commander and it was brought to scotland for training and submerging tests. after two months of rigorous testing, the dakar returned to portsmouth u.k. for final preparations for its long journey home.
on januray 9th, 1968, the 69 sailors aboard the dakar left the british port on their crucial voyage to israel. six days later, on january 15, at exactly midnight, the dakar was last seen leaving gibraltar on the final stretch of the journey. on the morning of january 24th, at 06:10, the dakar’s last location transmission was received in haifa; near the island of crete, commander major yaacov raanan reported everything was fine. dakar was planned to land in haifa on january 29th exactly on time for a festive ceremony to which invitations had already been sent to vips and dakar crew families. after passing crete and during the next 18 hours dakar transmitted three more times without location coordinates. the dakar’s last transmission was received at 00:02 on the 26th. repeated calls to the dakar were unanswered. silence of the depths.
on the morning of the 26th the idf announced a state of emergency. all israeli military ships as well as commercial vessels in the region set out in search of the dakar. the israeli air force as well as british planes from cyprus took part in the search. sea vessels in the area from the us, greece, turkey and even lebanon helped to search.
on januray 27th a nicosia based radio station claimed reception of a signal on the dakar’s emergency frequency but nothing more. the international search came to end with last daylight of january 31st. israeli forces tried for an additional four days but on february 4th the search was called to an end.
in february 1969, one year after the dakar’s disappearance, a dakar orange flotation buoy was found by a fisherman off the shores of gaza. based on algae on the buoy investigators concluded the dakar was resting in shallow water, not more than 350 meters deep and that it had deviated about 70-80 nautical miles from its planned course. these conclusions were wrong and misleading. years later the dakar was found exactly on course, in one of the deepest areas of the mediterranean at 3,000 meters below sea level. the buoy had probably detached from the dakar immediately after it went down, floated up to the surface, transmitted an emergency signal to the nicosia radio station, and gradually drifted south to gaza where it was found.
for 31 years the dakar was lost. israel conducted 25 search operations, each in a different area, all unsuccessful.
after 25 search operations, admiral alex tal appointed a new search committee headed by veteran submarine officer brigadier gideon raz. based on new technology and recent satellite data regarding currents in the mediterranean u.s. based deep sea research company nauticos was contracted to conduct the 26th search operation in april 1999. sonar scans discovered the dakar wreckage on may 24th and four days later the sea was calm enough to deploy a remote controlled mini-sub equipped with video to make definite identification. initial video feeds from the bottom of the ocean found a broken dakar, most of the body collapsed toward the insides due to the extreme pressures of the depths. the dakar bridge lay on its side detached from the submarine body.
may 28 1999, friday evening at 20:00, as israel was coming into the sabbath, the main tv newscast broke the sabbath serenity when it opened with a headline that sent shivers down the backs of all israelis; the dakar submarine has been found. at a depth of 2,900 meters, 500 km from israeli shores, the 69 dakar sailors found their final resting place.
names and photos of the 69 fallen dakar sailors here: http://submarines.dotan.net/memorial/
a unique monument in their memory was erected by the ministry of defense in the military cemetery at mt. hertzel jerusalem. shaped to remind the inside of a submarine with a bridge erect at the center, plaques with the names of the fallen hang on the walls inside the structure. rays off sunlight penetrate the thin gap between the ceiling and bridge. inside it is dark and eerie, silent and secluded. perhaps like inside a submarine deadly silent 2,900 meters under the sea.
investigators conclude a technical problem caused internal flooding in the front of the dakar submarine. the nose quickly pulled the dakar down to depths below the 300 meters it was built to withstand. within 30 seconds the body collapsed inward due to the pressure. within 10 minutes it crashed to the bottom of the mediterranean.
in october 2000, 32 years after the dakar was lost, it’s broken bridge was hauled up from the depths and brought to haifa. a piece of the bridge is on display in the israel navy museum in haifa in an eternal monument.
what do submarines have to do with my blog, dedicated to photography and images of my thoughts?
uri had his maiden submarine cruise this week. in a month or two he and his fellow cadets will be classified and assigned to specific types of vessels.
uri wants the subs! this has been occupying my thoughts.
uri is the most handsome one, front center, april 2007