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Arab Naval Battles against Israel (Egypt, Syria, Palestine)

Soviet cogitations: 333
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 20 Feb 2010, 11:57
Resident Admiral
Post 17 Feb 2018, 13:33
During the Cold War, the Arab-Israeli conflict was a key component of the military and geopolitical situation in Middle East. Palestinian refugees evicted from their homes by the Israeli government fled in mass to the nearby states (“Nakba”), while the democratic Israel political forces put in minority by the US-sponsored militarist wing. While initially only focused in fighting the newborn Israel State, with the rise of Nasser in Egypt, both Egypt and Syria turned into socialist-aligned nations. Even if no communist, both nations made socialist reforms and were widely supported by the Soviet Union economically and with military. Unable to accept the growing threat of socialism in Middle East, the United States widely backed Israel (its help was second only to the Apartheid South African regime, ideologically very close to the Israeli state).

Both Egypt and Syria suffered multiple losses while scoring only few successes, and the reason of this disparity it is due the high professionalism, ingenuity, training, technological superiority and lesson-learned tactics from the Israeli Navy.
Still the Egyptian Navy some interesting operations and sunk or damaged few Israeli target on the different conflicts: this included the loss of Israeli destroyer INS Eilat, the first sinking achieved by naval missile.
The smaller Syrian Navy obtained no real result (to see the better performance of Syrian Navy, check the ‘80s operations in Lebanon: viewtopic.php?f=149&t=55191).

The text does not cover events predating the rise of Nasser in Egypt or the subsequent Israeli actions on Palestinian and Lebanese militant groups.
Post-1973 controversial naval actions by Palestinian militant groups on sea not explored here, being often attacks deliberately targeting civilians and outside legit naval warfare rules.
However, it is included a single proper naval warfare action carried by the communist Palestinian PFLP (see 11/Jun/1968): currently the only known proper naval engagement committed by a Palestinian group.

Between 1958 and 1961, Egypt and Syria officially united as the “United Arab Republic” but no significant naval action occurred during this time span.
Egypt retained the name “United Arab Republic” until 1971 (essentially during the naval warfare spanning between the Six-Day War and the War of Attrition), but this article maintain the name “Egypt” out of use by Arab sources.

With the death of the Egyptian presidents, Nasser and Sadat, Egypt definitely sided with the Western world. The nation spiraled down in a series of US-backed corrupt government (eager to invest heavily in US military industries, while dropping interest to oppose Israel), leading to popular discontent, poverty, rebellions and coups in the last decade.

Sources: the magnificent work done by (c)Alexander Rosin on the Russian blog (Covert Shore), a top expert in naval special operation sabotages.
Book “60 years Israel Navy”, by Klaus Mommsen (Israeli source)
Multiple minor Israeli articles, posts and blogs.



28 September 1954
The first significant naval action since the rise of Nasserism in Egypt.
Unidentified Egyptian patrol boats (likely ex-British Fairmile B class) seized the Israeli merchant Bat Galim (500tons) with a cargo of 93t of meat, 30t of hides and 42t of plywood.
The ship never returned to Israel. Egyptian sources claimed sailors from the merchant opened fire against two fishing boats, sinking one (and killing two fishermen), but there is lack of confirmation if the action was indeed real or (as suggested by Israeli sources) fabricated.


31 October 1956.
Egyptian escort destroyer Ibrahim el Awal attacked Haifa and shelled the city: the French destroyer Kersaint opened fire but did not scored hit. The Egyptian ship disengaged and chased by the Israeli destroyers INS Eilat and INS Yaffo. The Ibrahim el Awal suffered damages (2 killed, 8 wounded; other sources say 4 killed and 18 wounded) ) at the engine and rudder by enemy fire and from an attack by Israeli Dassault Ouragans. The ship was forced to surrender the enemy: the Israeli will take her in service as INS Haifa. The action was the only destroyer versus destroyer battle of the Arab wars.
It is also the last time (and one of the few occasions since the Spanish Civil War) when a socialist-aligned nation lost a destroyer against a ship of similar class.

Photo of the Egyptian destroyer being towed by Israeli vessel after the battle: she was ex-British Cottesmore (Hunt class), while both Israeli destroyers were larger and more powerful.

31 October 1956
The British light cruiser HMS Newfoundland attacked the Egyptian frigate Domiat.
Despite the huge disadvantage, the Egyptians attempted a brave resistance, but the ship suffered multiple hits: the British destroyer HMS Diana eventually finished her. There were 69 survivors (prisoners). Egyptians suffered 56 killed, British suffered 1 killed and 5 wounded after two hits scored on HMS Newfoundland.
It is also the last time (since the Spanish Civil War) when a socialist-aligned nation engaged (and damaged) an enemy cruiser in action.
It was also the (so far) last recorded loss of major warship due gunnery action in war.


Photo of the British cruiser, Egyptian frigate was ex-Britsh HMS Nith (River class).

1 November 1956
British aircrafts sunk the Egptyan landing ship Aka, while being prepared for scuttling as bloc-ship in the Channel. Refloated after war only for scuttling.

3 November 1956
Four Israeli Dassault Mystere fighters attacked and sunk the Egyptian cargo ship Aida (1428 GRT). Another group of four Dassault Mystere committed a friendly-fire attack against the British sloop HMS Crane with rockets but causing only light damages. Interestingly, Egyptian sources claim to have repelled enemy ships on that day using both naval units and coastal artillery, claiming the sinking of a warship and a transport ship and damaging a third vessel. While it is possible Egyptians indeed attempted to strike the enemy with coastal artillery, no real damage inflicted.

Between 3 and 4 November 1956
Egyptians lost the two landing crafts LCM-15 and LCM-20 (former American LCM type) sunk in Alexandria by British or French planes.
On unclear day of November, British or French planes also sunk Egyptian merchant Zamalek.
On the same days, Egyptian Navy intentionally scuttled as blockships a number of vessels including not-commissioned hulls of warships.

4 November 1956
British Sea Hawk fighters from the carrier HMS Bulwark attacked and sunk the Egyptian motor torpedo boats n°220 and n°227 of Soviet project 183 class.
At first they claimed 3 boats sunk and 1 damaged, later downplayed on 2 sunk and 1 damaged. Egyptian sources state there were only n°220 and n°227: they claimed one enemy ship damaged by torpedo (this is not proved by western data), and only 7 crewmembers survived after both boats sunk by enemy air attack. Interestingly, crew of motor torpedo boats were partially from Syria: Syrian sources largely praise the commander Jules Youssef Jamal (later awarded as Hero) for having reportedly directed his motor torpedo boat into a desperate ramming attack against an enemy vessel. While it is possible, his boat attempted such maneuver after discharging the torpedoes, no western warship suffered actual damage.
Arab sources state the ramming-suicide attack was performed against the French cruiser Jeanne D’Arc (that was never damaged) or more reasonably to the French liner Jean Bert: indeed this ship departed from Algeria on 1 November, stopped in Cyprus on 4 November and went in Egyptian waters on 5 November, but there is no report of damage.

Photo of a Soviet project183 motor torpedo boat.

6 November 1956
British tanker Opalia (6195 GRT) reportedly both as sunk or scuttled in Port Said, on that day British forces actively landed to attack the city and engaged Egyptian forces. It is currently unclear if the tanker was involved in supporting the invasion fleet or she was already present and trapped inside Port Said, sunk by intentional or random gunfire or bombing. Nevertheless, she was not recovered by the British and was actually refloated and repaired by Egyptians in 1959 that declared her a war-prize renamed “23rd December”.


23 July 1964
An explosion onboard the ship Star of Alexandria (1778 GRT) In Algeria, while she was carrying ammunition. The blast appears to be the action of the Israeli services.


5 June 1967
Israeli submarine INS Tanin landed 6 frogmen near Alexandria. They hoped to attack the project30-bis destroyer Suez, but the ship already sailed away from the harbor and the group split in the darkness, just to land on the beach and being captured by Egyptians. Having found no military target, the frogmen had attacked explosive on an old dredger and a barge, both damaged.
Egyptian Navy dispatched the destroyers Damiat and Port Said (again project30-bis), supported by three motor torpedo boats to track the submarine but without success.

6 June 1967
Some hours later of the failed attack in Alexandria, Israeli Navy carried a raid in Port Said.
Destroyer INS Yafo carried “Hazir” type manned submersibles and the motor-launch Tzipor (acting as command craft). The planned attack suffered a number of delays and revisions (it was originally intended with explosive boats). Three Israeli motor torpedo boats also escorted the group. The submersibles did not found the originally intended military ships and they did not attacked the merchants: one of the Hazir boat was attacked by Egyptian patrol boat with depth charges (no damage) and an all-out battle erupted with Egyptian coastal artillery firing at every possible target on sea. There was also risk of friendly fire when a pair of project205 missile boats (they were on patrol) encountered the three motor torpedo boats but no damage has been reported on both sides. While Egyptian sources claimed the sinking of four enemy crafts, a project205 boat grounded herself apparently due the high-speed maneuvering close the coast (she was eventually recovered).

On the same day of the raid in Port Said, the Israeli submarine INS Tanin launched 4 torpedoes (in two salvoes) against the Egyptian frigate Tariq but they were observed and avoided. Tariq launched depth charges and damaged the INS Tanin that managed to survive and escape. It was the only successful anti-submarine attack during the whole Arab Wars and the only fully confirmed successful ASW action in military warfare after WW2. Damage was not heavy (sonar, radar and electric gear).
INS Tanin was former British HMS Springer of S-class
Tariq was former HMS Whimbrel of modified Black Swan frigate class.

7 June 1967
After lingering in the same area, hoping to recover the frogmen, INS Tannin received order to return home but made a second torpedo attack against the same Egyptian frigate Tariq: once again torpedoes missed but the frigate did not noticed the attack and there was no reply. It was the second and only torpedo attack by submarine from the Israeli Navy.

On the same day, the Egyptians intentionally scuttled the passenger ship Mecca (8252 GRT) as a block-ship in the Suez Channel to trap 15 merchant ships and put diplomatic pressure on the International community. Interestingly the blocked ships become the so-called “Yellow Fleet” and the Channel was re-opened only in 1975 when Egypt fully regained its control! Blocked ships included merchants also from socialist countries (Poland, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia) as well as western nations and crewmembers coexisted and helped each other for years despite the turmoil of wars.

8 June 1967
An inconclusive encounter between Egyptian missile boats (project 205) ferrying troops on retreat with Israeli motor torpedo boats. Termit missiles launched by Egyptians but missed and no hit or casualty reported on both sides.

On the same day.
Israeli frigate INS Haifa launched depth charges against two different Egyptian submarine, claiming one of them as at least damaged or even sunk but this proved untrue. In the previous days, Israeli vessels claimed contact with other Egyptian submarines (project 633) but without claims.

On the same day.
Egyptian merchant Magd sunk in Suez Channel by Israeli aircraft. Wreck later removed

On the same day.
Israeli Navy and Air Force attacked the American spy-ship USS Liberty.
Two Mirage-III and Two Mystere-IV planes strafed the ship, while the motor torpedo boats T-203 Ayah, T-204 Daya and T-205 Baz made a torpedo attack on the ship, scoring one hit and further strafed her.
The Americans lost 34 KIA and 171 WIA, the ship was effectively a total-loss meaning the action was the very last successful action committed by a motor torpedo boat with torpedoing of target (surpassing the successful use of m.t.b by Chinese Navy in 1965 during the Battle of Chongwu).
Both sides stated it was a friendly-fire incident: while it is possible the Israeli forces committed a gross misidentification of the target, many details are still controversial. Some American sources, including veterans off the ship, state the attack was deliberate. Many theories, with strong points, include a desire by Israeli to eliminate intelligence proofs gathered by Americans over war crimes committed (killing of Egyptians POWs), as well as awareness that the Soviet could intercept and decode the data transmitted by USS Liberty, including the plans for moving troops to Golan on the Syrian front.


1 July 1967
Israeli sources report about a frogman action on the Suez Canal. In collaboration with the Army and against ground target (two points of Egyptian rail line damaged), however the Egyptian ground fire hit and sunk a Israeli “Bertram” type assault boat used by the frogmen.

11 July 1967
Battle of Rumani Coast
During a patrol, the Israeli destroyer INS Eilat and the motor torpedo boats T-203 Ayah and T-204 Daya encountered two Egyptian motor torpedo boats of Soviet project 183 class.
A gunfire fighting erupted, and INS Eilat separated and sunk both the Egyptian units before they could launch torpedoes.
According some western sources, other two additional project 183 class has been lost the following day, but this is probably a duplication of the report.

Israeli sailors of one of the motor torpedo boats, celebrating right after the battle.

21 October 1967
The Israeli destroyer INS Eilat was operating close Port Said when the Egyptian forces attacked her. The project 183R class missile boat n°504 launched two missiles: both of them struck the target. A second project 183R missile boat, n°501, launched her two missiles: while the first missed the second one scored hit causing further damage and the consequential sinking of the destroyer.
Israel suffered 47 sailor killed and more than a hundred wounded, Egyptian Navy scored the first significant victory to avenge the previous actions, also the loss of Eilat was the first ever-successful use of anti-ship missile in action. The action impressed all the naval observers (including the Soviets that estimated a higher number of missiles launches to achieve direct hits on destroyer-class ships). The victory also positively impressed many other Navies, including the Indian Navy that used Soviet-made missile boats against Pakistan.

Photo of INS Eilat: she was former British HMS Zealous of Z-class

Photo of two Egyptian project 183R units. This Soviet class was the first ever missile boat class to enter in service.

23 – 25 January 1968
Egyptian Navy officially claim the minesweeper Assiut (Soviet project 254K, often wrongly reported as “frigate”), detected a suspected Israeli submarine and depth-charged it on 23 January.
The Israeli Navy lost the submarine INS Dakar officially for unknown reasons and the Egyptian Navy claimed the sinking (last communication on 25 January). Decades later, the cause of INS Dakar’s loss are still unknown: technically the wreck is located far from the Egyptian coast and Israeli point at technical failure, but it is still possible the submarine took damage and drifted away sinking later as consequence of the damage. The submarine scheduled to sail Haifa, but it appears possible that out a denial (confirmed) it took extra time for a patrol close Egyptian waters (unproved). Israeli sources officially denied such Egyptian reconstruction. Out of neutral evidence, the Israel’s views appears realistic (interestingly the loss of INS Dakar at the time and still nowadays is clouded by many conspiracy theories, involving a potential deliberate sinking by another Navy, still fueling arguments). Another possibility (not denied by Israeli sources) involve INS Dakar observing Soviet warships right between Crete and Cyprus (where she indeed sunk), either being intentionally or accidentally rammed or sinking by technical fault while making a fast dive to avoid the collision: Soviet large destroyer Soobrazitelnyy (project 61) was indeed on the scene.

Photo of sister-ship INS Leviathan. The attack could be the only anti-submarine victory post-WW2 alongside another Indian claim on Pakistani submarine (realistically it is an unlikely event out of evidences).

11 June 1968
Palestinian militants of the PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a communist group still operating) on a speedboat fired five to ten rounds of RPG rocket against the Liberian-flagged oil tanker Coral Sea (34203 GRT) causing some damage (fire after two hits) but no casualties. The attack occurred off the cost of North Yemen. Apparently this is the solely and main incident with a Palestinian naval action attempting a proper naval warfare action! Details are unclear, PFLP unit departed from Aqaba and apparently no other similar attack attempted.

5/6 February 1969
Egyptian naval frogmen attacked the harbor of Eilat. Damages inflicted to the landing ship INS Bat Sheva and the armed transport ship Hydroma.

The Landing ship was ex-South African Tzilngi

25/26 June 1969
The Israeli Army shelled and destroyed a number of merchants blocked in the Suez Channel while laid-up, grounded or foundered. The list of ships destroyed included: Greek merchant Andromachi (7056 GRT), British transport Talodi (1578 GRT) and her Egyptian sister-ship Taif (1590 GRT), Panamanian merchant Marhonda (2452 GRT), Panamanian merchant Aghia Trias (1992 GRT), Egyptian tanker Sad El Furat (13235 GRT). None of the vessels was an active participant of the conflict at the time. During the subsequent 1973 war, Israeli aircrafts intentionally sunk the American merchant African Glen (6116 GRT) in a similar operation, reportedly because it was used as observation post by the Egyptian Army (2 soldiers killed).

6/7 September 1969
Israeli naval frogmen made the “Operation Escort”, a raid in the bay of Suez close Ras Sadat, onboard of Hazir-class manned submersibles planted limpet mines on two motor torpedo boats of project 183 class (some sources wrongly list two 183R missile boats lost) sinking them. One “Hazir” submersible accidentally exploded on the way back, killing 3 frogmen, a fourth one recovered.

8 October 1969
Greek merchant Tobruk (933 GRT) (cargo: sheeps, goats and general cargo) sunk on a mine while en route from Syria to Libya. Details are unclear (of responsibility), but given the route she was without doubt involved in trade for the anti-Israel Arab countries.

8 November 1969
Egyptian task force composed by the Soviet-made project30BA destroyers Damiet and El Nasser, escorted by two missile boats and two motor torpedo boats, shelled Israeli targets on occupied Sinai, inflicting light damage (Israeli sources admit this damage, but doesn’t adds details). Soviet advisors were onboard.

Photo of the Soviet destroyer Otchayanny, later passed to Egyptian Navy in 1968 with name El Nasser (renamed "6 October" in 1973), not to be confused with the namesake El Nasser project30bis, received by Egyptians in 1956 and returned in 1968 alongside sister-shiper Damiet (replaced by another project30BA).

15 November 1969
Egyptian frogmen attacked the harbor of Eilat, damaging two ships. Some sources agree to identify the ships as the Israeli merchants Hey Daroma (1736 tons) and Dahlia (13700 tons), with Egyptians suffering one killed. However, other sources wrongly report the damage to auxiliary ship INS Bat Yam (reportedly destroyed in May 1970, while other sources report all three ships attacked including INS Bat Yam sunk. Hey Daroma is also sometimes reported as lost due this attack, however her loss occurred only in 3 September 1970 due accidental wrecking on a reef.

22 January 1970
Egyptians lost two motor torpedo boats of class 183 sunk by Skyhawks aircrafts while sailing to Shadwan Island in the Red Sea, under attack by Israeli commandos.
Photo of one Egyptian boat in 1978, since early '70s the rear artillery system was replaced with BM-21 rockets for ground shelling.

4/5 February 1970
Egyptian frogmen attacked the harbor of Eilat, damaging the Israeli auxiliary ship INS Bat Galim and the LCT landing ship INS Bat Sheva (already damaged in 1969).

6 February 1970
Egyptian minesweeper Minya (Soviet project 254M) sunk by Israeli aircraft in Gulf of Suez.
Photo of one Egyptian sister-ship: however Minya was the only one in service part off the M subclass (more advanced).

7/8 March 1970
Egyptian frogmen reportedly sunk an Israeli oil barge.

13 May 1970
Egyptian missile boat of project 183R class launched 2 missiles toward the Israeli fishing boat Orith (70tons) in northern Sinai. Both missiles exploded close the ship causing a quick sinking. 2 sailors died, 2 swam to the shore. The sinking is the second-ever success scored by Arab missile boats during the wars with Israel: it was surprising because the powerful missiles were not designed to sink small vessels.

15 May 1970
Egyptian frogmen planted an explosive charge in Eilat harbor under sea (rather than using limpet mines on the hulls), and inflicted further damage to the grounded auxiliary ship INS Bat Galim making her unrepairable. 1 Israeli diver working on the ship was killed and two wounded (both former frogmen members, now part of the reserve and officially working on the ship as civilians). Israeli will eventually scuttle her in open sea. Apart losses of frogmen vessels and Israeli merchant targets (tankers, fishing boat etc,) INS Bat Galim was the second (and last) official “INS” Israeli Navy ship lost in war action with the Arabs after destroyer INS Eilat.

16 May 1970
Israel air strike on Ras Banas: Egyptian destroyer El Qaher and a project 183R missile boat sunk by Israeli Dassault Mirage aircrafts. A landing ship also damaged.

Photo of the destroyer while serving during WW2 as British HMS Myngs of Z-class.


5 August 1971
An explosion and fire heavily damaged the Israeli merchant Bat Tiran (1662 GRT) while she was navigating in Greek waters. The ship was a total loss, Palestinians claimed responsibility. Most of crewmembers was of Yugoslavian nationality: one of them died during the fire.

5 January 1972
Israeli patrol boats of Dabur class intercepted and seized an Egyptian infiltration craft with intelligence agents on it.
Photo of the infiltration craft seized

21 June 1973
Greek merchant Eolos (592 GRT) sunk in Libyan waters reportedly after striking a mine. The ship departed from Greece with a cargo of limestone. Unclear the culprit of the minelaying and when this occurred, possibly Israeli mines dropped before the war.

13 August 1973
Naval skirmish in the Gulf of Suez between one Egyptian patrol boat of “De Castro” type, against the two patrol boats n°861 and n°864 of Israeli Dabur class.
Israeli sources claim to have inflicted unspecified damages to the vessel, while suffering two wounded.
Photo of one of the Egyptian "De Castro" type patrol.


6 October 1973
On the very first day of Yom Kippur War, the Egyptian Navy carried a number of operations:
Two Egyptian missile boats launched four missiles against five Israeli landing crafts, but all evaded having the attack been spotted by a couple of F-4 aircrafts that attacked but missed the Egyptian boats.

Egyptian submarine of Project 633 fired three torpedoes on Israeli tanker Samson, but missed and the tanker reached Eilat.
It is the only fully confirmed attempt from an Egyptian submarine to attack an enemy target: Egyptian claimed at the time to have sunk the target, but nowadays the claim is discredited.
It was one of the few submarine attacks after WW2 and the only one accomplished by a Soviet-built submarine.
Photo of submarine n°722 of Soviet Project 633. Nearby there is submarine n°418 of the older Project 613, that was never used as much as the new more powerful class.

Egyptian ships laid mines in the Strait of Jubal during the War. The only damage inflicted to the enemy (during the conflict) admitted by Israel was an unidentified Israeli small tanker.
Egyptian sources however claim the sinking of two different tankers (first one 48000tons, second one smaller with 2000tons).
These claims are so far unreported and the only fully confirmed victory will be the Israel (Liberian-flagged) tanker Siris (28748 GRT) (at the time empty) sunk after striking two mines on 26 October 1973, one day after the official end of the war. 6 crewmembers wounded, ship later raised and recovered.

Photo of minesweeper Dakahliya of Soviet project 254K. This class of seagoing minesweepers was also intended for mine laying and each ship could carry between 8 – 16 mines (depending to type).

Also, on the very first day of war the Yemenite merchant Arwa (1584 GRT) sunk by Israeli shelling while she was at Adabiya, in Suez Bay.

6 October 1973
Battle of Latakia
Israeli Navy dispatched the battle group of missile boats composed by the two Sa’ar-1 class units INS Mivtach and INS Miznah, Sa’ar-3 class units INS Ga’ash and INS Hanit and the single Sa’ar-4 INS Reshev. Their purpose was to strike the main Syrian harbor of Latakia and destroy as much as Syrian ships possible.
At first, INS Hanit engaged and sunk with gunfire a lonely motor torpedo boat (project 123K) and after this, they sunk the minesweeper Hitin of project 254 class with four Gabriel missiles (3 hits).
Syrian attempted to react with two183R project and one 205-project missile boats. Six Termit missile launched missed due electronic countermeasures and chaff rockets. While the 183R project had launched all their missiles, the 205-project unit had still a pair: she waited and launched at closer distance but to no avail because these last two missiles were also jammed. Israeli replied with 5 Gabriel missiles launched, sinking the 183R project n°44 (by INS Miznah) and the 205-project missile boat n°21 (by INS Ga’ash), and damaging the second 183R project n°42: she was damaged and tried to escape but was grounded and finished with 76mm gunfire from INS Miznah.
The Israeli naval victory was a decisive success, fruit of intelligent lesson-learned from the loss of INS Eilat: while powerful, Soviet missiles were outclassed by the more modern electronic countermeasures and the Syrian boats had not enough gunnery to fight in artillery battle (as result of this action, Soviet designed the larger and more armed project 1241 missile boats).
Photo the Sa’ar-1 class INS Mivtach preserved: her sister-ship INS Miznah scored 2 of the Israeli victories of the day.
Photo of one Syrian project-205 missile boat.

7 October 1973
Battle of Marsa Talamat
The Israel Dabur-class patrol boats n°864 and n°867 attacked the anchorage of Telma, sinking one Egyptian Bertram-class assault boat with two rubber-boats tied to it (western sources make mistakes in reporting this action: for once the assault boat was not sailing but was anchored).
Both n°864 and n°867 temporarily grounded after coming under fire from Egyptian ground forces, suffering damages with casualties (1 killed and 7 wounded), while Egyptian casualties are unknown.
Photo of sister-ship n°860 of Dabur class
Photo of one Egyptian "Bertam" type vessel, here armed with rockets.

8-9 October 1973
Battle of Baltim
Israeli Navy achieved a similar success against the Egyptian Navy as occurred in Latakia.
Israeli dispatched two Sa’ar-4 missile boats (INS Reshef and INS Keshet), two Sa’ar-3 (INS Soufa and INS Herev), one Sa’ar-2 (INS Eilat) and one missile-less Sa’ar-1 (INS Misgav). They engaged four Egyptian 205-project missile boats. Like the Syrians, Egyptians launched first: 3 missiles followed by other 3, all failed due the Israeli use of chaff and jamming systems.
After the failure, Egyptian units retreated but INS Keshet scored a hit with Gabriel missile that damaged a missile boat, while a second one missed. INS Misgav further damaged her and finished the missile boat.
INS Keshet had to stop due a leak due accidental breaking (no battle damage). INS Eilat fired one missile, while INS Reshef fired too scoring one hit on a second missile boat, before sinking her with gunfire. The second pair of Egyptian units was attacked too: INS Herev and INS Soufa opened fire against one missile boat that grounded. INS Reshef attempted to engage the fourth unit but retreated when too close the enemy coast. Officially, the Egyptian Navy lost only two units of 205-project: n°323 and n°390, meaning the third grounded boat was recovered.
The Israeli victory was a neat repetition of the Battle of Latakia: in both cases the Arab vessels attacked first but were outclassed by the more advanced Israeli vessels.
Recent photo of former INS Reshef and INS Romach, in service for the Chilean Navy as Angamos and Casma.
Photo of Egyptian missile boat of Soviet 205-project

10 October 1973
Lebanese merchant Randa (473 GRT) sunk in Libyan waters reportedly after striking a mine. The ship departed from Lebanon carrying livestock (sheep). Unclear the culprit of the minelaying and when this occurred, possibly Israeli mines dropped before the war.

11 October 1973
Second Battle of Latakia
A second raid by Israeli missile boats against the Syrian Navy: 2 Sa’ar-3 missile boats (INS Hetz and INS Herev) and one Sa’ar-2 missile boat (INS Haifa) attacked Latakia.
Two Syrian missile boats attempted to react but they were close foreign merchant and reportedly one Japanese and one Greek merchant hit by Israeli Gabriel missiles.
(Israeli sources claim they could have been hit by the Syrian vessels, but given the powerful explosive charge of Termit, it is unlikely they could have survived the hits).
Casualties reported on the Greek vessel, while the Japanese suffered a fire. Some sources claim the merchant sunk but this appears untrue.
One 183R project missile boat, n°43, hit and grounded by Israeli Gabriel missile. The project-205 missile boat n°22 is wrongly reported as lost in the first battle (only one sunk by Israel) and its loss match with a claim of a project-205 sunk during this second battle. Syrian missiles failed again to hit the enemy. However, this time Israeli failed to achieve the main target: to strike the main Oil tanks of the port. A secondary attack at Banias ignited the local Oil tanks.
Photo of a Syrian 183R project missile boat.

12 October 1973
Two Israeli missile boats attacked Tartus: Israeli report the sinking of two Syrian 183R boats (no losses recorded) and sunk the Soviet merchant Ilya Mechnikov (4105 GRT). The attack on the Soviet vessel mobilized the Soviet Navy units monitoring the conflict in Mediterranean Sea, but no military action was undertaken.

9/10 October 1973
Israeli naval frogmen made a raid in Ardaka harbor during the night, sinking with planted explosives one Egyptian 183R project missile boat.

14 October 1973
Israeli aircrafts sunk the Egyptian survey vessel Bakr (416 GRT) with missile.

15 October 1973
Israeli Dabur patrol vessels attacked a group of Egyptian commandos who were on the Israeli coast of Sinai: claiming up to 18 “motorboats” sunk. It is unclear the real number of losses inflicted and the actual designation of vessels (probably simple rubber-boats).

16 October 1973
Port Said Battle
Israeli naval frogmen made the “Operation Lady”, a raid in Port Said using two “Hazir” manned submersibles: planted explosives and claimed to have sunk one missile boat (project-205), one motor torpedo boat (project 206), one coast guard boat, one tank landing craft. Israeli frogmen lost two men and one “Hazir” submersible without giving detail of the loss (frogmen MIA with their boat). Egyptian sources believed to have suffered a mixed attack including missile boats, and claimed the sinking of several attacking vessels: it is indeed probable the Hazir sunk in the counter-attack, but it is unclear which Egyptian unit could claim it and how the attack happened. No Egyptian craft has been confirmed sunk, but it is possible that some vessels were damaged.
All considered, despite the unproved Israeli claims, this action was the only Arab success in the October War.
Photo of Egyptian submarine chaser n°222 off Soviet project201 class. While widely used by a number of Soviet-alligned nations in Cold War conflicts, such vessels never saw significant action against Israel. However 8 units were in service during the war and could have took part in Port Said defense.
Photo of a project 123K motor torpedo boat: the class has never been delivered from Soviet Union, but six boats were received from Syria. Considering the more modern project 132 was the standard Egyptian motor torpedo boats, it is no surprise these older vessels were converted for a support role (including coast guard service) with rockets while retaining the torpedoes: it is likely they were part of the defense of Port Said.

On the same day, Soviet minesweeper Rulevoy (project 266M) under command by Lt. P.N. Kozitsin and the smaller minesweeper MT-219 (project 266) under command of E.A. Busleiko engaged Israeli aircrafts on Latakia harbor. Rulevoy claimed to have shot down a Phantom fighter, and for this action, commander and crewmembers received awards. However, the claim does not match with confirmed Israeli losses that day, while some source indicate two Phantom losses on the Syrian front for that day but assigned to Syrian MiG fighters.

Rulevoy was a Project266M minesweeper

17 October 1973
Israel dispatched two “Patzchans” type explosive-boats led by two “Snunit” type assault-boats acting as mother ships aiming at Egyptian missile boats (project 183R) in Arkada harbor (Red Sea).
The harbor has been previously attacked on the night between 9 and 10 October by frogmen.
“Snunit” type assault-boats launched flares to illuminate targets, but this failed to achieve the hoped result and rather alerted the Egyptians that opened fire.
One “Patzchans” explosive-boat set on running-attack by the operator (recovered) but started sailing on circle, likely after hits from the Egyptians fire before exploding.
The second “Patzchans” explosive-boat meanwhile successfully sailed and exploded against a pier but without hitting or damaging targets.

21/22 October 1973
Israeli naval frogmen made a raid in Ardaka harbor during the night, damaging one Egyptian 183R project missile boat with a rocket.

22 October 1973
Israeli sources claim to have sunk a couple of Egyptian patrol boats in Damietta by Gabriel missiles fired from Sa’ar boat. Officially, the Egyptian navy lost only two 183R project missile boats in the war: while one was surely sunk at Ardaka, the other 183R project missile boat could be a victim claimed during this raid.

23 October 1973
An Egyptian submarine of Project 633 torpedoed and sunk the Cyprus merchant Hadiotis (1545 GRT), 60nm north of Alexandria. Interestingly this is one of the rare post-WWII torpedo attack committed by a submarine in war operation absolutely ignored by most of online sources and books!. The attack is poorly reported by most of sources and usually unknown (and not commonly reported by Egyptians) because it can easily classified as friendly-fire attack. The merchant, departed from the Egyptian harbor of Alexandria and was sailing to the friendly Libyan harbor of Bengasi with a cargo of cement. 14 sailors lost their life. The over-eager Egyptian submarines during the war saw their efforts fruitless mostly because they sailed too distant from shore and Israel blocked its own merchant shipping.

Photo of a Soviet project633

24 October 1973
When the Israeli forces advanced into the port of Adiya, two motor torpedo boats of 123K class were forced to surrender. The Israeli patrol boat n°838 of Dabur class took part at the seizure. One torpedo boat was scuttled, while the second one preserved as museum ship in Haifa.
Photo of the motor torpedo boat currently preserved: notice how the artillery was replaced by rockets.


6 July 1975
Mysterious loss of American merchant Neches (10608 GRT) sunk reportedly by mine into Al-Arish harbor (occupied Sinai).

DISCLAIMER: Even if this work is fruit of a passionate effort, it was produced out of amateur hobby interest and may include sporadic errors (especially for some events with unclear date). Partial or full reproduction/translation, with credits to this site, is allowed for no-profit interest in other forum, sites etc.

However, it is suggested to pay attention to updates or corrections that may occur even years after the original publication
Any kind of suggestion, correction, question is welcome through private message: you are free to contact the author on forum even after years since the last update.
User avatar
Soviet cogitations: 4520
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 07 Oct 2004, 22:04
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Resident Soviet
Post 17 Feb 2018, 23:27
Man, we're so lucky to have you on the forum doing these historical compilations, often containing unique or totally obscure moments from 20th century naval history. These are gems that one would be hard pressed to find anywhere else on the English-language internet. I hope you're backing your work up somehow!
"The thing about capitalism is that it sounds awful on paper and is horrendous in practice. Communism sounds wonderful on paper and when it was put into practice it was done pretty well for what they had to work with." -MiG
Soviet cogitations: 333
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 20 Feb 2010, 11:57
Resident Admiral
Post 19 Feb 2018, 19:15
Greetings! My work has been done entirely as hobby ^^ All started when I found myself surprised to see an absolute abyss concerning the theme (even soviet naval actions in WW2) in english internet pages, sites and forum, so i started interacting with a couple of forums (english-based axishistoryforum and russian-based out of curiosity. With time it turned a personal hobby and interest. But there are still many things I have no time or means to research (usually I write about specific lacks in the text). But I plan eventually in the next 1-2 year to finish covering up EACH communist/socialist state (or not-state entity) involvement in naval warfare (with emphasis on ship-to-ship action, I tends to avoid the air-to-ship because it would be a too huge work).
Soviet cogitations: 333
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 20 Feb 2010, 11:57
Resident Admiral
Post 11 Dec 2018, 21:36
1) Added expanded intro
2) Egyptian merchant losess by Israeli air attacks on 3/Nov/56, on 8/Jun/67, on 14/Oct/73
3) Revised fate of Egyptian landing craft LCM-15 and LCM-20: both sunk by air attack on 3/4 Nov/56
4) Now it is fully confirmed the loss of two motor torpedo boats on 4/Nov/56: serial number, cause and class identified.
5) Inserted loss of American spy-ship USS Liberty on 8/Jun/67
6) Inserted the only proper Palestinian naval attack (by Communist PFLP group) on 11/Jun/68
7) Loss of Greek-flagged merchant (sailing for Arabs) on 8/Oct/69 by mine
8 ) Properly identified Egyptian destryers shelling Israel on 8/Nov/69
9) Loss of Soviet merchant Ilya Mechnikov on 12/Oct/73 now confirmed.
10) Extra Egyptian victory: hit and subsequent explosion of Israeli explosive boat on 17/Oct/73

((January 2019)): Minor Updates:
1)3/4 November 1956: Addded 1 Egyptian merchant loss and described the intentional scuttling of other vessels
2) 23/25 January 1968: Added the mysterious loss of INS Dakar (Egyptian victory claim is quite disproved by evidence).
3) 25/June/1969: loss of merchant Andromachi by Israeli artillery

((July 2020)): Single but important update.
Sinking of Eilat: properly identified the Egyptian missile boats engaged: n°504 and n°501
Soviet cogitations: 333
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 20 Feb 2010, 11:57
Resident Admiral
Post 15 Jul 2021, 17:57
1) Added loss of Egyptian landing ship Aka by British aircraft on 1/Nov/56
2) Added loss of British tanker Opalia on 6/Nov/56
3) Added explosion onboard ship "Star of Alexandria" on 23 July 1964
4) Mentioned scuttling of ship Mecca on 7/June/67 as well as the trapped "Yellow Fleet"
5) First incident of the War of Attrition placed under day 1 July
6) Added one extra theory for the mysterious loss of Israeli submarine INS Dakar
7) Expanded the events of 25/26 June 1967, when the Israelian forces shelled a number of trapped ships in Red Sea (all effettively in derelict conditions).
8 ) Added details of the loss of two Egyptians m.t.b on 22 January 1970. Fate confirmed as sunk by Israeli aircrafts.
9) Identified Israeli aircrafts attacking Egyptian ships on 16 May 1970
10) Added loss of Israeli merchant Bat Tiran by explosion on 5 August 1971
11) Added loss of Greek merchant Eolos by mine on 21 June 1973
12) Added loss of Yemenite merchant Arwa on the first day of the Yom Kippur War.
13) Added loss of Lebanese mechant Randa on 10 October 1973, apparently due mines.
14) Added information of Soviet defensive fire on 16 October 1973 against Israeli Targets.
15) Fully detailed and confirmed the sinking of Cypriot merchant "Hadiotis" by Egyptian submarine with torpedo attack!. There is absolutely little sources speaking of this attack, while the existance and loss of merchant is confirmed and Israeli sources indeed briefly mention it! The attack was clearly some kind of mistaken friendly-fire: the merchant was departing an Egyptian harbor sailing to Libya. It's clear how while the Egyptian Navy had obviously no interest in detailing this episode, also Israel (with the post-Yom Kippur relationships and refound friendship with Egypt) had little interest to explore it.
16) Added one post-war episode: loss of American merchant Neches in 1975
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