On the 21st of September 1958 the government of Israel decided to purchase two submarines from Great Britain. They were 2nd World War "S " Class submarines, HMS Springer and HMS Sanguine. Both Submarines were build by Cammell Laird shipyards at Birkenhead during the war, and were launched towards the end of it.

HMS Sanguine and HMS Springer during the 50's

Founder of the state and first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion gave them their new Hebrew Names. Springer was named TANIN and Sanguine got the Biblical name RAHAV(Rahab). Both names of ancient monsters were taken from Isaiah. Chapter 51, Verse 9:

David Ben-Gurion visiting the Tanin
"Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the Lord; awake as in the ancient days, In the generation of old! Art thou not it that hath cut Rahab, (RAHAV) and wounded the dragon? (TANIN)"
INS Tanin
INS Rahav

After refit and renovation at Cammell Laird shipyards INS Tanin was commissioned under the Israeli flag in August 1959 and the Rahav shortly afterwards. A period of buildup training, sea and dive trials in England and Scotland followed.

S-71 INS Tanin during her buildup training and sea, dive and torpedo trials in Scotland

In November 1959 the Tanin left Portsmouth and headed towards her new home base at Haifa. On the 16th of December 1959 the first Israeli submarine INS Tanin under the command of LC Yosale Dror entered the port of Haifa.

LC Yosale Dror embarks his submarine just before the long voyage to Haifa. Officers of the HMS Dolphin at Portsmouth salute him farewell.
Chief of the boat, Menashe Shachar proudly shows part of the provision prepared for the long journey from Portsmouth to Haifa.
INS Tanin on her way to Israel
December 16th, 1959. The first Israeli Submarine, INS Tanin under the command of Lt. Commander Yosale Dror about to dock in Haifa

6 months later, Tanin's sister submarine, INS Rahav arrived at Haifa. Rahav enterd Haifa on June 16th 1960 under the command of LC Hadar Kimchi.

The story of the Israeli submariner qualification badge

As the INS Tanin docked in Haifa,Yoasle Dror bestowed the new Israeli submariner's badge to the officers and crew of the boat (1). Six month later, Rahav makes her way to Israel and Tanin meets her at sea. Yoasle with a bag full of badges jumps from bow to bow(2) and Hadar Kimchi, skipper of the Rahav pins them to the officers and enlisted crew members of his boat.(3)
The men found the pin ugly and ridiculous(4) and refused to wear it. A new badge was designed(5) and this time accepted. This is the badge that all Israeli submariners, officers and enlisted get when qualified as submariners.

Tanin and Rahav were both built at the end of 1945. They were designed well before World War II and conditions on board were quite hard, especially in the warm weather of the Mediterranean. The temperature within the submarine sometimes reached the level of 40 degrees Celsius. (120 F). The diesel engines were extremely noisy and the snorkel had to be raised from the stowed to deployed position by hand force. Despite these primitive conditions both submarines took part in many top-secret missions before the six days war.

Tanin participated in the Six-Day War when she carried and launched naval commandos to attack the port of Alexandria, tried to torpedo an Egyptian sloop and was damaged by the consequent depth charge attack. This entitled her crewmembers to add the combat (red) background to their Submarine badge. All other submariners wear a blue background. Taninís Commander, Lieutenant Commander Abraham (Ivan) Dror (later Rear Admiral) received the Israeli citation for valour as a result of his actions at the port of Alexandria.
Naval commando badgeSubmariner badgeCitation for ValourSix Days War ribbon

Crew members of the Tanin are pictured together with the Naval Commandos they carried to Egypt during the Six Days War. The arrow points at Abraham (Ivan) Dror, skipper of the Tanin.

Shortly after the six days war both submarines were decommissioned and out of service. Rahav was sold to scrap and Tanin served as a traget for a torpedo fired by the INS Dolphin. A new class of submarines were to replace them and join the submarines squadron.


General Characteristics

Displacement Approx. 1000 metric tons submerged, 815 on the surface
Length 61.7 meters
Crew 57
Armament Six torpedo 21 inches tubes forward, 4 inches deck gun, 20mm flak gun and two 0.3 inch machine guns
Speed 14.7 knots on the surface, 9 knots submerged
Maximum Depth 365 ft.
Machinery Two 8 cylinder Admiralty diesel engines 1,550 bhp. Admiralty electric motors 1,300 bhp
Range 6,000 miles at 10 kts on the surface

Rahav's 4 inches deck gun on display at the Naval museum in Haifa

For more picture and information of the "S" Class era we recommend the following sites:

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Zahal, IDF, Israel military store

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