U.S., Israeli navies hold joint Med maneuvers in tense times
Israeli and American naval counterparts spent the last week holding a joint search-and-rescue exercises in the Mediterranean Sea, which included live fire and seaborne helicopters landings, Xinhua reported.
The "Reliant Mermaid" drill also tested the U.S. Navy's destroyer-mounted Aegis-missile defense system, which, theoretically, could defend Israel against Iranian missiles.
However, the Americans were quick to point out that the annual drill - which, while not held for the last three years - was unconnected with the escalating psychological war of nerves between Israel and Iran.
"Reliant Mermaid is a regularly scheduled exercise and is not associated with, or a reaction to any real world events," a Navy Public Affairs Office spokesman said.
Between 2000 and 2009, this type of exercise was conducted annually, with another participant - the Turkish navy.
However, the drill was postponed following the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident, in which Israeli commandos battled and killed nine armed Turkish protesters, who were trying to break a maritime blockade over the Gaza Strip.
Both parties, however, summarized the drill as a success and said it bettered military ties between the countries' navies.
"This was a successful exercise which strengthened the bonds between the U.S. and Israeli navies and increased our ability to work together as a team," said American Commanding Officer David A. Bretz.
"It was really great to get to see the differences between our navy and the U.S.," Israeli Navy Cpl. Niv Bar-Ilan told The Jerusalem Post.
Lauding his American swabbie counterparts, Bar-Ilan said, "We' re very appreciative of the crew's hospitality and thank them for teaching us their individual jobs on board."