YALTAM Overview

The Underwater Missions Unit ("Yechida Lemesimot Tat-Memiyot" or "YALTAM", in Hebrew) is the Israeli Navy SF unit charge on complex underwater defensive assignments.

YALTAM missions include:

  • SAR and the retrieval of submerged ships and airplanes.

  • Various underwater construction, such as welding and explosions.

  • EOD to explode or disarm devices such as old mines.

  • During wartime the unit will perform preemptive dives in Israeli harbors in order to prevent enemy divers' incursions.

  • In YALTAM home base - the Haifa Harbor - YALTAM assists Snapir in diving checks for incoming vessels to ensure no underwater mines attached.

Largely different from other IDF SF units, YALTAM is a small defensive unit comprised almost entirely of non-mandatory personnel. Most YALTAM personnel served three years IDF mandatory service in Snapir before applying to the unit. The rest of the operators are from Shayetet 13.

As all the recruits to the unit already posses extensive combat diving experience, YALTAM training is relatively short focused and focused on deep dives and operation of complex underwater SAR and construction tools, such as robots, torches, metal detectors and electronic equipment.

While the unit home base is in the Haifa harbor, the Israeli Navy biggest base, elements from the unit also deploy to other naval bases according to need.

The unit had one casualty to date - Corporal Yuval Levy - which died in a diving accident in Haifa Harbour, February 18, 1998. Levy dived along with another YALTAM diver to check an incoming vessel for underwater mines. The harbor's procedure dictates that the ship's crew was not to engage the ship's engines until YALTAM security check was concluded. However, for unknown reasons one of the ship's crew members engaged the ship's engines and one of the propellers hit Levy, killing him instantly. The second diver was unarmed and reported the incident, yet it took three more hours and 30 divers to recover Levy's body due to the low visibility and the muddy waters.