President of Israel Reuven Rivlin visited the shipyard in Kiel on Wednesday afternoon, on the final day of his state visit to Germany marking fifty years of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
The President toured the ‘INS Rahav’ the fifth submarine due to be delivered to the Israeli Navy, and was received with a guard of honor by the naval servicemen, who have been based in the area, training with the submarine in readiness for its arrival in Israel.
The President met with the senior management of the shipyard, who showed him round the range of projects underway in partnership with the Israeli navy, including the progress in the project through which four vessels would be delivered to Israel, providing an important strategic asset for Israel’s maritime defense.
Following this, the President was given a tour of the INS Rahav submarine. The President conveyed that he was greatly impressed by the submarine’s operating system, and spoke with the commanding officers. They presented to him photographs of Israel’s first Prime Minister, the late David Ben Gurion, looking through the periscope of the original INS Rahav, when the former Prime Minister launched and named the vessel.
The President was the first to sign the visitors log, and affixed a plaque to the wall of the briefing room of the vessel.
“The greatest strength of a submarine is in the beating heart, in the crew that operates it, working together as one every moment of every day, alert, vigilant, and determined," the plaque was inscribed. "Even from afar, under cover, or in the depths, our hearts are with you. May it be God’s will that you will go and return in peace, and that you will be successful in your mission of the continued defense of the State of Israel and her residents.”
The members of the crew were introduced to the President, and told him about their experiences training with the submarine. The President spoke with them about the complex process, expressed his personal admiration for their work, and offered them encouragement in fulfilling their mission.
He said, “It is well know that I am a Jerusalemite, and not connected to the sea in any specific way, but as an officer in the IDF, I always viewed with admiration those who served in the navy, and knew the difficulties and dangers which are inherent in defending Israel from the sea.”
The President added, “Meeting with you is very moving for me. For many years, we didn’t understand to what extent the navy was important to the security and economic prosperity of Israel."
"Today, you are our fortified wall on our maritime borders, and nowhere is too far for you when it comes to Israel’s safety," he continued. "I have come here today, to thank you for your courage in the name of Israel’s people."
"Even when you are far from us, your influence as a strategic asset of the State of Israel is closely felt," he declared. "It is not easy to be so far from home, and I can only tell you how much I and the people of Israel thank each and every one of you for your devotion and dedication. I look forward to the moment we will welcome you safely home.”
At the conclusion of his visit, the President was joined on the deck of the INS Rahav for the ‘Hatikvah’, Israel’s national anthem, by a guard of honor.