The Canadian and Israeli navies conducted joint rescue and maneuvering exercises in the Gulf of Aqaba on Feb. 7.
Crews from the HMCS Toronto and the INS Kidon took part in a search-and-rescue and passing exercise – called “SAREX” in naval jargon – as well as an exchange of sailors as part of the manoeuvres.
Brig.-Gen. (Res.) Eden Attias, Israeli Ministry of Defence attaché to Canada told The CJN that the joint operation was another “significant step in our bourgeoning bilateral ties.”
“As one of the first concrete achievements to come out of the 2011 memorandum of understanding on defence relations, the exercise was the result of nearly six months of co-ordination,” Attias said in an email.
Two years ago in Jerusalem, Canadian Defence Minister Peter MacKay and his Israeli counterpart, Ehud Barak, signed a memorandum of understanding on military relations.
“The security of both Israelis and Canadians is strengthened when our militaries work together sharing in experience and expertise,” Attias said.
An account of the joint military exercise was published on the Department of National Defence’s (DND) website on Feb. 21.
According to the DND, five Canadian sailors were sent to observe on the Kidon, while Israel sent seven sailors to the Toronto.
“These exchanges are a very important way for navies to interact with one another. It gives excellent insight into the operating procedures of allies so that when they are called on to work together in an operational capacity, they are aware of what is happening on the other vessel and they know what to expect,” the department said.
Sub-Lieut. Drew MacLeod, one of the five Canadian seamen sent aboard the Israeli vessel, was quoted in the report as saying he was amazed at how “the language of warfare” transcends cultures.
“It was also nice to have the opportunity to have lunch with them and get a taste of Israel,” he said.
HMCS Toronto’s commanding officer, Cmdr. David Patchell, reported that the joint exercise was “an exceptional opportunity to work with our friends in the Israeli Navy, sharing ideas and medical procedures that can benefit both countries.”
He complimented his Israeli counterparts, calling them “extremely professional and welcoming in working with Toronto.”