Fourth Dolphin Sub Joins Israel's Fleet

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- Israel's newest Dolphin-class submarine joined the fleet Thursday in an official welcoming ceremony at the shipyard in Kiel, Germany, where the sub was built.

The 68-meter (yard) long submarine is the largest produced in Germany since World War II, Defense Update reported.

Israeli Navy Commander Vice-Admiral Ram Rothberg and Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Udi Shani, director-general of the Defense Ministry, and other senior Israeli and German naval officials watched as the INS Tanin was lowered into the water at the Howaldswerke-Deutsche Werft shipyard.

A bottle of champagne broken on the ship's side fulfilled the age-old tradition of "christening" a new ship.

"The ceremony, more than anything, symbolizes the strong and unique bond between Germany and Israel," Shani said.

"At a time when threats are becoming global in nature, the relationship between Israel and Germany is more crucial than ever," Rothberg said.

Israeli naval personnel will train on the sub in Kiel until mid-2013, when it's scheduled to arrive in Israel. The following year, Israel expects to take delivery of its sister ship, Rahav.

In March, Defense Minister Ehud Barak traveled to Germany to take part in a signing ceremony closing the deal on the sixth submarine.

According to foreign media reports, the new subs are fitted with cruise missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads. That fact increases Israel's ability to launch a counter-offensive in the event Iran makes good on its threat to attack Israel. 

The total price tag for the three new submarines is about $1.5 billion, according to media reports, with the German government footing one-third of the cost.

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