In June 1965, Israel purchased two submarines from Great Britain, one of them, the “Totem,” had been built in England in the early 1940’s. After the Israel Navy took possession of the submarine, it was re-named the “Dakar” and underwent general refitting in England in order to improve its systems.
On 9 January 1968, the submarine set sail from Portsmouth harbor in Britain, for its home port in Haifa. It was carrying a complement of 69 crew under the command of Lieutenant Commander Ya’acov Ra’anan. Through 24 January, constant radio contact was maintained with the vessel throughout all hours of the day, and it was last known to be traveling on a course south of Crete. Last intermittent radio contact with the submarine was on the afternoon of 25 January.
After failure to establish radio contact with the “Dakar” on the night of 25 January, the Israel Navy organized searches with the participation of international forces. These searches lasted until 31 January, 1968.
The Israel Navy continued its searches on its own until 4 February, but nothing was found.
Thirteen months after the loss of the submarine “Dakar”, on 9 February 1969, an Arab resident of Khan Younis, in the Gaza Strip, discovered an emergency buoy of the submarine on the beach. The buoy was sent for expert examination.
One of the theories raised following the investigation of the buoy claimed that the submarine could be found in Egyptian coastal areas. The Peace Treaty with Egypt gave Israel the possibility of conducting searches in those areas. In the 1980s a number of searches were conducted in Egyptian waters, but with no positive results.
In the early 1990’s an examining committee headed by Commodore (res.) Hadar Kimche was established. Based on the committee’s finding and in light of new research of current patterns in the Mediterranean Basin, the Israel Navy decided to conduct searches for the submarine in the Aegean Sea. During 1992-1996 a number of searches were carried out in this area, but to no avail.
When the searches in the Aegean neared conclusion, Commodore (res.) Gideon Raz was appointed head of the committee to decide whether to continue searching for the submarine. In 1996-7 Israel conducted a number of unsuccessful searches off the Sinai coast. The last search was carried out in April and June.
During the last two years the US Navy assisted Israel in searching for the Dakar following a request by the Commander-in-Chief of the Israel Navy. After research and evaluation of the data, it was decided that the nuclear- powered US NR1 Research Submarine would carry out a new round of searches: in the Aegean Sea, and after that, north of the Egyptian coast, in international waters. During the present year the Israel Navy, assisted by the US Navy, carried out searches along the presumed course which the Dakar had taken on its tragic voyage. The search was carried out in deep water using American equipment which had been adapted for great depths. The Israel Navy hired an american company to assist in the search. The Israel Navy considers finding the INS Dakar to be of the highest priority and will continue its efforts to locate the missing submarine. On 28 May 1999, the search team located a submarine submerged in waters between Crete and Cyprus, and on 29 May 1999, a positive identification was made of the missing INS Dakar.