Home Middle East US, Israel begin naval drill Intrinsic Defender in Red Sea

US, Israel begin naval drill Intrinsic Defender in Red Sea

USS Cole in Israel for Intrinsic Defender
USS Cole (DDG 67) sits pierside in Eilat, Israel, on March 27, at the start of Intrinsic Defender. Photo: US Navy

The US Navy’s 5th Fleet and the Israeli Navy kicked off a 10-day maritime exercise on March 27 that will take place in and off the coast of Israel.

Intrinsic Defender is a bilateral exercise between US and Israeli naval forces, focusing on maritime security operations, explosive ordnance disposal, health topics and unmanned systems integration.

More than 300 US personnel are participating, including a US Navy explosive ordnance disposal dive team, US Coast Guard maritime engagement team, and global health engagement team.

US Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Cole (DDG 67), dry cargo ship USNS Wally Schirra (T-AKE 8) and various unmanned vessels are also scheduled to participate in the exercise.

“USS Cole looks forward to partnering with the Israeli Navy during the exercise,” said Cmdr. Jim Welsch, Cole’s commanding officer. “Working with our partners allows us to strengthen our bonds and increase our interoperability. This exercise will allow us to fortify our continued partnership in the region.”

Cole has been operating in the US 5th Fleet region since January 4 in support of maritime security and stability.

The bilateral exercise is taking off from Eilat, a southern Israeli port on the Red Sea that is part of the Negev desert, where the Israeli government is hosting foreign ministers of four Arab countries for the Israeli-Arab summit. The event, which is being described historic in Israel, has been joined the US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, who is on a tour of Middle East and North Africa as the US continues work on reviving the Iran Nuclear Deal.