Israel Navy: Technical Failure Likely Sank Sub In 1968 With 69 Sailors Aboard

An Israeli submarine that sank 47 years ago probably went down due to a technical failure, according to a report released by the navy on Monday.

The report was released at a gathering of the families of the 69 sailors killed when the Dakar went down.

Exactly what happened in the critical moments before the submarine sank remains unknown. But on Monday, the navy released all the reports drafted after the incident, which had hitherto been classified, as well as a document summarizing all the efforts to search for the sub and any other information the defense establishment has about it.

According to Vice Admiral Ram Rothberg, commander of the navy, there was no new information in the documents given the families, but until now, the families hadn’t had all the information the navy possessed.

In 2013, the Israel State Archives published documents about the Dakar’s disappearance while en route home to Haifa, and the subsequent searches for it. But the archives published only a summary of the report drafted in 1968 by Shlomo Erel, who commanded the navy at the time, and submitted to then-Defense Minister Moshe Dayan. Yesterday the full report was released to both the families and the public.

The report listed three possible explanations for the Dakar’s sinking – technical problems, enemy action by the Soviet fleet or a collision with another vessel. But at a briefing for reporters yesterday, Rothberg said the possibility of a Soviet attack was later ruled out.

“The leading explanation is a technical failure and loss of control over the submarine, to the point that it went down to the seabed,” he said. “This could have happened because the crew was unable to function due to the technical problem, but we know there was no internal explosion on the submarine, and the damage came from hitting the ground.

It could also be that water entered the submarine – there was a stormy sea then.”

The engineering study done after the submarine was finally located in 1999 also ruled out the possibility of sabotage or an external strike, concluding that a technical problem had caused the submarine to go down. Nevertheless, it wasn’t possible to reach an unequivocal conclusion about the nature of this technical problem. One possibility is that the bow of the submarine was flooded.

“Over the past year, we’ve worked together with veterans of the [submarine] fleet, people from the navy’s historical documentation unit and those who were responsible for searching for the INS Dakar to extract all the information that was kept in the navy’s archives, at every level of classification, process it and edit it into a document,” wrote Col. Doron, commander of the submarine fleet, to the families of the Dakar’s crew.

“This document, which is submitted to you today, presents and reflects the broadest and clearest picture of what the navy knew, thought and did about the loss and the finding of the INS Dakar, and gives you all the information that exists in the navy about this issue.”

Col. Doron added that the submarine was where it was supposed to be when it went down, but “we’ll never know exactly what happened there during those critical moments.”

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