Greek warship HS Prometheus docked in Haifa Port on Tuesday for a visit as part of summer training of Hellenic Navy cadets. It will take part in several joint exercises with the Israeli Navy.
The HS Prometheus, which supports the long-range missions of the Hellenic Navy, is headed by captain Athanasios Spanos. On board there are 133 Hellenic Naval cadets, cadets from the Greek Air Force and medical academies and two Romanian cadets.
Spanos told The Jerusalem Post that on Wednesday the cadets will train with Israeli Navy vessels on communication, attack and react drills.
“Every year we strengthen our cooperation,” Spanos said during a reception on board the ship Monday evening, adding that there is a “great connection” between the Israeli and Greek navies.
According to Spanos “it could be a good idea for the future to have Israeli cadets on the ship during the drill,” so that they would be able learn from their counterparts.
While the vessel’s main role is to act as a logistic support vessel, it is also capable of performing civil protection roles at times of crisis.
Israel maintains broad cooperation with Greece and has participated in several military exercises of air, sea and ground forces with the Mediterranean country, especially following the downgrading of ties with Greece’s adversary, Turkey.
“The Greeks are a major and natural strategic partner,” a senior international cooperation officer told The Jerusalem Post in a recent interview. “Someone had to fill the empty spot when we stopped doing drills with the Turks,” he added.
In January, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin along with Israeli Navy Commander Rear Admiral Eli Sharvit and other officials visited Greek’s Fleet Headquarters at the Salamis Naval Base during an official visit to Greece.
According to a statement released by the Greek Navy, Israeli officials were briefed on the activities of the Greek Navy and on matters of cooperation between the Armed Forces of the two states during the visit.
The following month, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot visited Athens hosted by his counterpart Admiral Evangelos Apostolakis where the two discussed common security challenge, the conflict in the Middle East and regional security developments, in addition to future military cooperation.
The close ties between Israel and Greece are based on a number of shared strategic interests.
While both Israel and Greece share economic interests, such as the ambitious project to build an undersea gas pipeline from Israel to Cyprus to Crete to mainland Greece, both countries also hope to keep the Russian-Iranian-Hezbollah axis from growing.
The Prometheus, which is on a month-long training voyage, docked in Haifa after port visits to Tunisia and Alexandria, Egypt. During the two-day visit in Egypt, the Greeks trained with Egyptian and Italian naval units on exercises aimed at protecting maritime vessels while crossing dangerous areas as well as how to exchange the takeoff and landing of jets on the surfaces of naval units.