Israel has four Dolphin-class submarines in use with a fifth scheduled to arrive in Israel by the end of 2013 and a possible sixth to be added in 2014. The first subs were built in the 1990's at a shipyard in Germany and were shipped to Israel in order to replace three older Gal-class submarines which had been in use since the 1970's.
The Dolphin submarines are an incredibly important part of the main combat force of the Navy and serve as an efficient second-strike option for Israel in the event of a nuclear attack on the homeland. The Dolphin is a versatile vessel, possessing a wide range of capabilities fit for a large variety of missions. The submarine fleet represents the technological cutting-edge of the Navy and the submarine fleet engagse in operational activity day after day under a heavy veil of secrecy.
Since the establishment of the submarine fleet at the end of the 1950s, the Navy has used at least eleven submarines. The first of them, the INS (Israel Naval Ship) Rahav and INS Tanin, arrived in Israel in 1959 and 1960. INS Tanin participated in the landing of naval commandos in the port of Alexandria and the mine attack at the entrance to the port. Their service in the Israel Navy ended in the Six Day War.
In 1964, INS Dakar, INS Dolphin and INS Leviathan were purchased from the British Navy. INS Dakar failed to reach Israel, and remains lost at sea in the eastern Mediterranean. The Israel Navy did not give up trying to locate the missing submarine and, in 1999, it was discovered by a U.S. salvage team less than two miles beneath the surface southeast of Crete at a point along the vessel's original route.
The three Gal submarines were in use after the Six Day War until the arrival of the Dolphins in the lat 1990's.