Delivery revives a capability the IDF has not been able to draw on since the early 1990s.
In August 2023, the Israeli Navy took delivery of the first of what is expected to be a new class of two landing craft.
Delivery of INS Nahshon took place at what the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) described as ‘Pascagoula Shipyard’ in the US. This is believed to be Bollinger Shipyard in Pascagoula, which acquired VT Halter Marine, the yard originally awarded a contract for two vessels of this type. The vessel was built there and the acquisition was funded using military aid from the US.
The IDF confirmed that the landing craft is the first of two it has on order. The handover ceremony was led by the Commanding Officer of Haifa Naval Base, Rear Admiral Tal Politis and senior officials in the procurement delegation of the IDF.
Although historically the IDF has made use of landing craft, it has been several years since it operated one. Its last landing craft was decommissioned in 1993, but more recently interest in reviving the capability and the amphibious capability they provide has grown.
A statement from the IDF about the new vessel described it as having a length overall of approximately 95m and a beam of approximately 20m and a displacement of 2,500tonnes.
The statement said INS Nahshon and its sister vessel “will act as a central pillar in adapting the Israeli Navy to the modern and multi-arena battlefield”.
Among other things, said the statement, the landing crafts will serve as “a logistical axis for transporting equipment as well as soldiers in near and far areas”.
The statement said the landing craft will also strengthen cooperation between the various units in the Israeli Navy, the Technological and Logistics Directorate (J4) and the other branches of the IDF, in order to strengthen joint operational activity “and put multi-branch combat effort into action in routine and contingency situations”.
Construction of INS Nahshon was initiated four years ago through the procurement delegation of the Israeli Defense Force using Foreign Military Financing from the US government to Israel.
Prior to the introduction of INS Nahshon into service, a number of final preparations will be completed, including crew training and operational certification tests. The IDF statement said the landing craft will set sail and arrive at its home port in Israel shortly and is due to be declared an operational vessel in 2024.
The Commander in Chief of the Israeli Navy, Vice Admiral David Saar Salama, told the team handling the acquisition of INS Nahshon: “You have a great privilege… writing a chapter in the history of the Israeli Navy.”
The Commander of the 921st Fleet said the team working on INS Nahshon “had set a historical date in which the Israeli Navy renewed a professional field and a long-standing combat tradition.” He said INS Nahshon “will put new life into the Israeli Navy’s capability and professional possibilities”.