21 October 1967: The day that changed Naval Warfare - INS Eilat is sunk by Egyptian SSMs

Catalpast

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21 October 1967: The day that changed Naval Warfare - INS Eilat is sunk by Egyptian SSMs

This day 50 years ago ushered in a new Age in Naval Warfare, patrolling off the Egyptian port of Port Said the ex British destroyer HMS Zealous renamed INS Eilat was attacked in International Waters and sunk.

when the ship was 13.5 nautical miles from Port Said, an Egyptian missile boat attacked, firing a P-15 Termit anti-ship missile, causing damage to the deck of the INS Eilat. The communications and propulsion systems of the seasoned ship were disabled, a fire began to spread on deck, and the ship began to capsize. Approximately an hour and a half after the initial impact, another Egyptian missile boat left Port Said and attacked the destroyer. One of the missiles hit the ship astern, and caused a conflagration near the weapons storage area of the ship. The stores caught on fire, and their contents began to explode. All of the 199 crew members of the ship began to abandon ship.

After the crew was in the water, the ship exploded and sunk. As a result of the explosion, a depth charge was set off, and wounded the seamen in the water. The rescue operation, which took place over two days, was one of the most daring and successful of its kind in the history of the IDF. Out of the crew of 199 people, 47 died, and 91 soldiers were injured.

https://www.idfblog.com/2012/10/21/today-in-history-the-sinking-of-ins-eilat/

The ship was attacked by Egyptian light patrols boats that were fitted with Russian made and supplied SSMs - surface to surface missiles - that at that time were very difficult if not impossible to intercept. Eliat was hit by three Soviet-made Styx missiles launched by Egyptian missile boats.

It was Egypt's only military victory of 1967 as they had been comprehensively defeated by Israel in June that year in the Six Day War. Understandably the Egyptians were delighted with their unexpected success and the Israelis stung that a Force they did not rate at all had hurt them so badly.

The Egyptians did not have to wait long to receive retribution though. Sixty-seven hours after the attack Israel retaliated by shelling Port Suez with heavy mortars. Two of the site's three oil refineries were destroyed with the smallest one left standing. The refineries produced all of Egypt's cooking and heating gas, and 80% of its oil. Other areas of the city were hit. Israel ignored or pleaded "technical difficulties" to UN requests for a ceasefire.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Zealous_(R39)#Sinking

From then on Navies around the World introduced changes in Naval technologies and weaponry to factor in the power of SSMs to take out a major warship by a much smaller vessel.

 


Nebuchadnezzar

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21 October 1967: The day that changed Naval Warfare - INS Eilat is sunk by Egyptian SSMs

This day 50 years ago ushered in a new Age in Naval Warfare, patrolling off the Egyptian port of Port Said the ex British destroyer HMS Zealous renamed INS Eilat was attacked in International Waters and sunk.

when the ship was 13.5 nautical miles from Port Said, an Egyptian missile boat attacked, firing a P-15 Termit anti-ship missile, causing damage to the deck of the INS Eilat. The communications and propulsion systems of the seasoned ship were disabled, a fire began to spread on deck, and the ship began to capsize. Approximately an hour and a half after the initial impact, another Egyptian missile boat left Port Said and attacked the destroyer. One of the missiles hit the ship astern, and caused a conflagration near the weapons storage area of the ship. The stores caught on fire, and their contents began to explode. All of the 199 crew members of the ship began to abandon ship.

After the crew was in the water, the ship exploded and sunk. As a result of the explosion, a depth charge was set off, and wounded the seamen in the water. The rescue operation, which took place over two days, was one of the most daring and successful of its kind in the history of the IDF. Out of the crew of 199 people, 47 died, and 91 soldiers were injured.

https://www.idfblog.com/2012/10/21/today-in-history-the-sinking-of-ins-eilat/

The ship was attacked by Egyptian light patrols boats that were fitted with Russian made and supplied SSMs - surface to surface missiles - that at that time were very difficult if not impossible to intercept. Eliat was hit by three Soviet-made Styx missiles launched by Egyptian missile boats.

It was Egypt's only military victory of 1967 as they had been comprehensively defeated by Israel in June that year in the Six Day War. Understandably the Egyptians were delighted with their unexpected success and the Israelis stung that a Force they did not rate at all had hurt them so badly.

The Egyptians did not have to wait long to receive retribution though. Sixty-seven hours after the attack Israel retaliated by shelling Port Suez with heavy mortars. Two of the site's three oil refineries were destroyed with the smallest one left standing. The refineries produced all of Egypt's cooking and heating gas, and 80% of its oil. Other areas of the city were hit. Israel ignored or pleaded "technical difficulties" to UN requests for a ceasefire.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Zealous_(R39)#Sinking

From then on Navies around the World introduced changes in Naval technologies and weaponry to factor in the power of SSMs to take out a major warship by a much smaller vessel.

Indeed a landmark naval warfare but......

.... this marked a significant progression in the ability of smaller vessels to destroy far larger. That capability was established by the torpedo the submarine and the torpedo boat. So that progression can be traced back to the 19th century.

....another point being that although this was the first sinking of another vessel by a ship(boat) launched missile it was not the first instance of the sinking of a ship by a guided missile. The Italian battleship Roma was sunk in Sept 1943 by a German Fritz X. This was a guided bomb rather than what we would now understand a 'guided missile'. However, in Aug 1943 a small British ship, the sloop HMS Egret, was sunk by a rocket powered guided missile, the Hs 293.

Roma hit by Fritz X



Roma hit by Fritz X
 

Catalpast

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Indeed a landmark naval warfare but......

.... this marked a significant progression in the ability of smaller vessels to destroy far larger. That capability was established by the torpedo the submarine and the torpedo boat. So that progression can be traced back to the 19th century.

....another point being that although this was the first sinking of another vessel by a ship(boat) launched missile it was not the first instance of the sinking of a ship by a guided missile. The Italian battleship Roma was sunk in Sept 1943 by a German Fritz X. This was a guided bomb rather than what we would now understand a 'guided missile'. However, in Aug 1943 a small British ship, the sloop HMS Egret, was sunk by a rocket powered guided missile, the Hs 293.

Yes the Kriegsmarine was ahead of the loop there. The loss of the Roma was a tragedy for the Regia Marina in which hundreds of sailors were lost.

Like Mers el kebir and Oran in 1940 the Germans turned on their former allies to stop their Capital ships falling into their enemies hands....
 

RasherHash

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Yes the Kriegsmarine was ahead of the loop there. The loss of the Roma was a tragedy for the Regia Marina in which hundreds of sailors were lost.

Like Mers el kebir and Oran in 1940 the Germans turned on their former allies to stop their Capital ships falling into their enemies hands....
Amazing that a society that was so oppressive and reliant on slave labour could be so ingenious.
 

owedtojoy

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Yes the Kriegsmarine was ahead of the loop there. The loss of the Roma was a tragedy for the Regia Marina in which hundreds of sailors were lost.

Like Mers el kebir and Oran in 1940 the Germans turned on their former allies to stop their Capital ships falling into their enemies hands....
I think you mean the British turned on their former allies ...
 

Nebuchadnezzar

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Yes the Kriegsmarine was ahead of the loop there. The loss of the Roma was a tragedy for the Regia Marina in which hundreds of sailors were lost.

Like Mers el kebir and Oran in 1940 the Germans turned on their former allies to stop their Capital ships falling into their enemies hands....
But of course these German missiles were air launched rather than vessel launched.

Back to the Egyptian Israeli context...


I think the sinking of the Eilat is also of note as an example of the underrated Egyptian military sophistication and it prefigures somewhat their effective deployment of anti tank and anti aircraft guided missiles as part of a multilayered defensive system during the 1973 Yom Kippur war. The Israeli military is rightly seen as being a very effective force that has been able to improvise and innovate from its inception but that reputation tends to obscure the Egyptian's capabilities(albeit with major Soviet support).
 

Nebuchadnezzar

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Interesting to note that by 1973 the Israeli navy had reversed the situation. The Egyptians failed to repeat their successes with the Osa missile boats. They were designed to hit relatively large targets(such American carrier group escorts etc) and by 1973 the Israeli navy was primarily a small missile boat force. In 1970 the Egyptian navy attacked an Israeli fishing boat, firing four of these Termit missiles against it, none of them hit.
 

Nebuchadnezzar

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The Israeli navy had reequipped with missile boats by 1973 and these were armed with smaller and more modern missiles than the Egyptian and Syrian Osa boats. During a number of missile boat vs missile boat engagements during the '73 war several Arab boats were sunk for no Israeli loss.
 


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